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Four Fannie Mae employees on leave during federal investigation

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A troubled Fannie Mae

Four Fannie Mae staff members have been placed on administrative leave pending a federal investigation by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Inspector General who is focused on “a transaction involving distressed debt on multifamily property,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

After several voluntary meetings with law enforcement officials, reports claim that federal law enforcement officials arrived unannounced at several Fannie Mae employees’ homes at the end of last week, but it is unclear as to whether or not the officials executed search warrants, but some suspect that they did.

Four of the employees have now been placed on administrative leave during the investigation of a series of apartments that were foreclosed upon and sold by the agency. Full details have not been made available by the agency, but WSJ had information on a single transaction wherein Fannie Mae’s bulk sale of a foreclosed apartment was sold to a prominent New York developer.

“The investigation is limited in scope and we are cooperating fully with FHFA and the OIG [Office of the Inspector General],” a Fannie Mae spokesperson told WSJ. “Consistent with our usual practice, we placed employees on administrative leave pending the outcome of the review.”

The changing tides and what they indicate

The FHFA who oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has recently taken action to shape the practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, including dismantling their lawyer network which has been used to process foreclosure filings. These are the same law firms that a recent Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) report says falsified foreclosure filings to pump up their stats of foreclosures completed (thus getting paid more), abuses which were known since 2003 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac fired the firms, while Fannie Mae said it would cost $5 million to transfer the files to another firm, they couldn’t afford to do so, and they refused, leading to the FHFA dismantling the entire network.

The tides are changing ever so slightly at Fannie and Freddie and we predict major in-fighting in coming months, as fingers wag and point and politicians make plans to do more than dismantle the lawyer network, many have been trying to dismantle Fannie and Freddie altogether. While none of this fixes the abuses that have taken place on all levels, the FHFA’s persistence could prove to turn over stones that Fannie and Freddie would likely have preferred stay unturned.

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

Austin

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?

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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.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

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.

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aging housing inventory

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.

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Housing News

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.

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zillow move

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

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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