A heated political battle
Because of the recession in recent years, the housing sector has been in crisis and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is currently laying plans to march on Capitol Hill this spring to make their cause known to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. NAR has long been a powerful lobby, but the housing crisis has had a strong impact on all lobbyist’s power as lawmakers struggle to do what they believe will keep the economy afloat which some sectors pay the price for.
Citing the President’s recent budget proposal that threatens to cut mortgage interest deductions, plans to potentially privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the possibility of the government mandating 20 percent down on all home loans, and an increase in fees lenders must now pay to have their loans guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie should go up, the NAR considers these moves an attack on homeownership.
Realtor Magazine’s Senior Editor, Robert Freedman writes, “All of these and more add up to an attack on home ownership and raise the question of whether our children and grandchildren, despite the unquestioned good home ownership does for our country, will have the same options for buying as we or our parents had.”
Freedman added, “Here in Washington, largely behind the scenes, NAR has been waging a battle on Capitol Hill and among the regulatory agencies to try to keep some balance in this debate over home ownership and dial back the reaction to the housing downturn.”
On the morning of May 17th, during the NAR Midyear Legislative Meetings, “The Rally to Protect the American Dream” will gather thousands of Realtors to join NAR President Moe Veissi and the NAR Leadership Team at a rally on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.
Realtors planning on attending Midyear are encouraged to register for the rally as soon as possible.
The organization says the rally is a “high-energy way of letting Washington lawmakers and policymakers know that REALTORS® are ready to go to the mat to protect this most cherished of American institutions.” We are told that Realtors at the rally may be organized by state and show a physical presence by joining others from their state alongside State Association executives.
“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures,” NAR President Veissi says. NAR is currently organizing support for the rally from industry leaders, members of Congress and even home buyers.
Real estate is the nation’s bedrock
“Theirs will be a simple message: Real estate is the bedrock of the country and the country’s REALTORS® are taking a stand to keep it that way,” writes Freedman.
Seattle broker, Marlow Harris said, “If those outside the real estate industry understood the issues, I’m sure there would be 10x the number expected for the rally.”
Harris added, “Cutting the mortgage interest deduction would not only hurt homeowners, but renters too, as rents would have to go up to cover the increased costs. Other landlords would rush to dump their rentals, flooding the market with homes, condos, duplexes, triplexs and apartment buildings no one can buy because of the newly enacted “20% down” rule. Homeownership on the two coasts will drop by 1/2, as home prices that start in the $300K price range will require $60,000 or more down. A recipe for (further) disaster.”
Letter from NAR President to members:
RALLY TO PROTECT THE AMERICAN DREAM
A Message from NAR President Moe Veissi
Our industry is facing a crucial moment. Never before in the history of our great nation have housing and real estate been forced to defend the benefits they provide our country. The very foundation of civilization is no stronger, nor more enduring than the integrity of the homes on which they rest.
We must have a sustainable, durable housing economy for generations to come. Congress and the President should see their job as bolstering the housing economy and strengthening our commitment to the country’s health. If the housing market continues to falter, the economy cannot fully recover. Over the next 18 months Congress will begin reshaping the role of housing in achieving the dream of owning a home. That is what we are facing. REALTORS® have something to say about this. And this is our opportunity to ensure housing remains the fiber that binds together the fabric of America.
We are going to defend the American Dream from the doubters who say home ownership and real estate have run their course. That is why we are holding the Rally to Protect the American Dream on May 17th in Washington, D.C. I am asking you to be there and stand with your fellow REALTORS® from every corner of America — from Alaska to Illinois to Texas to Guam.
We are going to show Congress that no one cares more about revitalizing real estate for future generations than REALTORS® do.
It is critical that you register to let us know you are attending the rally. We want to plan a great event and make sure wet have enough food, water, lunches, t-shirts and buses. If you would like to come, we will help you connect with transportation via your state or local association. Just complete our Rally Registration. If you request transportation, we will forward that request to your association to follow up with how they can help you get to Washington, D.C. Note that if you plan to stay longer than one day, NAR is not able to cover or reimburse for lodging expenses. However, if your room is over $300/night, NAR will reimburse $100/night up to two nights ($200) to help defray housing costs to attend. Simply bring your hotel confirmation with your room rate and NRDS ID (members only) to the NAR Registration desk at the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, and NAR will initiate a refund. For housing requests, please visit our housing resources information page.
This is our time. This is our moment. We can’t do it without you. Join us.
2012 NAR President
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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