More than just an eyesore
For residents in cities where foreclosures are low, or are being snapped up by investors, it is difficult to understand exactly what an abandoned foreclosure home means for a neighborhood. It’s more than just an eyesore, as some banks fail to maintain the abandoned property, which to them is no more than an address in a ledger, and in some areas, the homes are claimed by squatters and even gangs.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that metal bars on windows, poor roads, or bad smells can hurt a homes value by more than $6,000, so imagine what a blight home does to nearby home values. The NAHB says that an abandoned building within half a block knocks $28,000 off of a home’s value.
Los Angeles taking action
According to The L.A. Times, the city of Los Angeles is suing U.S. Bank, alleging that the lender poorly handled over 1,500 foreclosures in the city, 150 of which had fallen into blight status of disrepair, leaving neighborhoods victim to these abandoned homes as they drag values down and become home to gangs and squatters.
In addition to allegations of allowing blight homes to destroy neighborhoods, L.A. alleges that U.S. Bank illegally evicted some tenants in properties that had been foreclosed, while allowing other tenants in buildings to remain in poor living conditions.
The city sued Deutsche Bank for similar misdeeds, and the two banks claim that while they hold the deeds, their defense remains that the mortgage servicing companies hold responsibility for the maintenance of all properties.
U.S. Bank denies responsibility
“Like the city attorney, we are troubled by properties that are not maintained, which have a corrosive impact on neighborhoods and communities,” a U.S. Bank Senior Vice President told the L.A. Times, noting that the bank has “made multiple requests of the city over the past couple of years to obtain detailed information on properties they considered to be in disrepair in order to immediately identify and work with the responsible servicer to address outstanding issues. Until very recently, the city has refused to provide us with that information.”
The city of Los Angeles vehemently objects, as court documents show the city asserting that “U.S. Bank National Assn. disregarded virtually every one of its legal duties and responsibilities as owner, resulting in the creation and maintenance of an alarming number of vacant nuisance properties.”
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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Ladies and gentlemen, the U.S. National Anthem
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