Barney Frank isn’t the only one who can speak out
This week, Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) called for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to be “abolished” and spoke strongly of his notion that they should be done away with and that he would somehow construct their replacement entities. The idea of reform isn’t new, however- it was anticipated by all, but Frank’s bold statement has seen widespread attention. Just last week, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said in a PBS interview that it was not likely that the White House would consider addressing Fannie and Freddie this year (although the Senate would begin looking at the structure).
Freddie Mac CEO, Charles “Ed” Haldeman how previously called himself “a real Barney Frank fan” described Frank’s statement as “not helpful” during a Q&A session after yesterday’s speech. “I do get that he’s the decision maker but in this interim period, it wasn’t a great day for me, and it wasn’t a great day for our 6,000 employees who saw that headline,” he said.
Freddie Mac’s constructive response to Frank:
- “The GSEs help make possible the 30-year fixed rate mortgage—of a kind and on a scale unique to this country. By giving families stability and certainty, this is a real economic asset for our nation.”
- “We are the constant liquidity provider—the source of almost three quarters of the liquidity to the mortgage market last year.”
- “We are the ‘backstop bid.’ That means our customers know there will always be a buyer for their loans—which gives them the confidence they need to keep lending in any environment and keeps prices more stable.”
- “We deal with innovation in the mortgage market better than a purely government entity.”
- “And we are an important counter-cyclical influence that stays in the housing finance market even when purely private capital has pulled out. This has been proven by the events of the last two years.”
In a 2009 shakeup, Freddie Mac had three empty executive roles for much of the year and changes in the industry have changed the landscape for the company drastically. Haldeman closed his speech by rallying for his beloved employees and noting that “because of Freddie Mac’s public purpose, we’re making decisions on MHA and other issues – without being guided solely by profitability – that no purely private bank ever could.”
Do you think as it stands that Freddie Mac (and Fannie Mae) should be abolished, regulated or left alone?
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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