Americans in protest
On both sides of the political spectrum, there is uproar. Tea Party rallies rail against over-regulation while loosely organized (yet large) protests are taking place in New York City against Wall Street fraud and tax loopholes for the rich. While traditional television media is under fire for representing the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York as a “few hundred participants,” the crowds actually numbered in the thousands and literally brought the city to a halt.
“We are the 99 percent” is one rally cry of the Occupy Wall Street protesters, a cry that has been echoed online in the form of “We are the 99 percent” blog posts depicting people’s self-submitted photos with a written explanation of how they feel they have been victimized by the economy, particularly by Wall Street’s bad behavior, noting that the 1% is the richest of the rich that pay reduced tax rates, leaving the 99% to suffer.
Wearethe99percent.tumblr.com says, “We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent. Brought to you by the people who occupy wall street.”
Ten portraits of struggling Americans
Not all sides of the political spectrum will agree as to why or how our nation got to this state and why so many feel disenfranchised. Some say poor leadership, other say Wall Street bailouts, but regardless of the why, below are ten real people that have submitted photos that depict how they are underwater on mortgages or having to choose between food and their mortgage, with one common thread- fear and frustration:
With his submission, this man added, “My credit was just fine when they wanted to give me more…and more. It was so good that a very low interest rate was the enticement to do business with them. Then they decided that I wasn’t such a good risk. They bumped the rate to 30%. They are forcing me into bancruptcy! I’VE NEVER MISSED OR BEEN LATE ON A PAYMENT! How did my credit worthiness go down because of THEIR crimes?!?”
The sign above says, “I am 62 years old. I have worked honestly and hard my whole life (since I was 14) because that is how you “realize The American Dream.” I was a home builder and designer. In 1980, the “Savings & Loan Crisis” forced me out of work and out of business. (the government helped the banks survive…) I slowly rebuilt my life and business. In 2007, the “Sub-Prime Mortgage Crisis” crushed me again. I lost my business, my home, my wife and my belief in that American Dream. (the government saved the banks again…) WE ARE THE 99%”
He also added, “The inability of Washington and the banks to fix the housing market leaves hard-working, small time condo flippers (a.k.a. property improvers) stuck paying multiple mortgages with no money left to buy anything, to save anything or to make charitable contributions. I am the 99 percent.”
The note above states, “I am the mother of five children. I lost my job 2 years ago as the manager of a hair salon when the bad economy forced it to close. My husband left me and after a year long battle with the bank trying to get a loan modification, Citimortgage is foreclosing on my home. I live in fear everyday. No one will rent to an unemployed, single parent who survives solely on child support. I am the 99 percent. For pity’s sake, someone help us.”
His sign says, “I bought my house in 2005 for $125,000 more than I sold it for in 2009. Where was my bail out. Where was my bonus for taking a risk that didn’t pay off and didn’t increase shareholder value? That’s right, Wall Street got my bonus instead.”
Additionally, she added, “My bank (GMAC) wants certified funds because the payments were “late” three consecutive months in a row- but if you looked at it the payments were late because they tried to take out our mortgage before I got to transfer funds from other accounts- then there were the insufficient funds charges- and you can’t submit a payment because we were on automatic payments and they try twice before they give up on you- So if I had tried to make a payment before the due date it would have just counted as a “double payment” and we can’t afford that…Where is my BAIL OUT???”
This sign says, “I am lucky to own my home, BUT IT IS UNDER WATER. I was fortunate to be educated when our country supported the schools, BUT HOW WILL I PUT MY SON THROUGH COLLEGE?? I work as an employment discrimination lawyer and meet people who are working harder and longer hours to hold on to jobs where they are harassed and mistreated. I AM THE 99%”
The above reads, “2 and a half years ago my husband lost his security clearance because his sister and mother live in Israel and we visit them. Now we are facing foreclosure on our home of 20 years. He is still unemployed and I work too hard for too little money.
We are the 99%.”
She explains further, “I’m 18 years old, and have been working 40+ hours a week at my job since i was 16, just to help my parents pay the bills. Even now, I work full time just to pay my loans and tuition and help my parents pay bills/provide for my sister. I take 18 credit hours (i’m required to take 15+ and have a minimum 3.0 gpa to keep my state scholarship and grant; without it, my dream of higher education is over). My family’s combined income is <$32000 dollars a year, but the only financial aid I qualify for from the government is a $5500 unsubsidized loan because my father had to liquidate his entire 401k to pay off the mortgage on our house, driving our income up to >$80000 (a mortgage that my parents paid on for 20 years without fault, but they began foreclosure proceedings on after missing 1 payment). My father was laid off after working for 20 years at his company, but ran a fairly successful lawn care business for several years after. 6 years ago, he had to shut it down as our state’s unemployment shot up 14% and no one could afford the extremity of lawn care. MY FATHER HAS A COLLEGE EDUCATION. My mother works 40 hours a week at a SHIT job that she hates, that she has developed several illnesses from, just to keep our benefits; she doesn’t even make enough to cover the bills. Boeing came to South Carolina and for the first time in 6 years my father has a job prospect. 6 YEARS. where is this promise of a comfortable life now? and i’m one of the lucky ones! this is not acceptable. i am the 99%”
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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