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Real Estate Associations

NAR and other industry groups call for caution before ending conservatorship

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The National Association of Realtors joins industry groups to urge the Treasury to avoid a rushed end to conservatorship.

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A metal globe in New York City representing government conservatorship

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) joined the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), the American Bankers Association (ABA), and the National Association of Home Builders (AHB) in voicing their concerns about a rushed effort to end the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In response to the financial and housing crisis of 2006 through 2008, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs) into conservatorship in September 2008. To stabilize the firms, the Treasury gave the companies a $190 billion lending package. In return, the Treasury would receive senior preferred shares, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be required to make quarterly dividend payments to the Treasury, among other things.

It’s 12 years later now, and FHFA’s Director Mark Calabria’s top priority is to remove the company from government control and place it back in private hands before President Trump leaves office. And, the housing industry associations argue abruptly ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could destabilize the housing market.

In a letter to the U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the housing industry associations said, “We are concerned that other potential actions to release the GSEs from conservatorship without the necessary safeguards would undermine investor confidence, create volatility in the single-family, and multifamily mortgage markets and impede access to credit for consumers.”

“During conservatorship, investors have relied on the Treasury backstop of the GSEs, which totals over $250 billion, as well as the effective control of the GSEs by the federal government.” By ending the conservatorship with the GSEs without anything in place, the groups say it “could cause investors to reassess the nature of any backstop and result in severe market disruptions.”

The letter points out “examples of potential harm” such as: “a sharp pullback in investor demand for GSE mortgage-backed securities (MBS) by investors concerned about a diminution of government support and an associated increase in credit risk exposure”; And, “an increase in mortgage credit costs during economic crises, negatively impacting the GSEs’ ability to support the market in the next crisis.”

The housing industry groups strongly oppose the swift ending of the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but they don’t say they expect this will go on forever. They want to flesh out a plan that works for everyone.

“Our associations and the members we serve have worked over the past twelve years to develop reform plans and advance efforts – both legislative and administrative – that would correct structural flaws in the GSEs’ pre-conservatorship business models and allow them to transition safely out of conservatorship.”

“We have not supported, nor do we currently support, an “endless” conservatorship. Our position is quite the opposite – we wish to see the GSEs reformed and operating outside of government control. We therefore favor actions that move the GSEs closer to the preferred end state in a timely manner that does not disrupt the housing finance market and inflict broader economic harm.”

And, the NAR, along with the MBA, ABA, and NAHB now have a response to their letter.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin suggested, “he is unlikely to support a legal move—called a consent order—to end the government conservatorships of the mortgage-finance companies before President Trump leaves office.”

“We’re going to not do anything that jeopardizes taxpayers and puts them at additional risk. We also want to be careful that we don’t do anything that overnight would limit access to mortgage finance.”

For now, it looks like Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac will remain as government-sponsored enterprises.

Veronica Garcia has a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Science in Radio/TV/Film from The University of Texas at Austin. When she’s not writing, she’s in the kitchen trying to attempt every Nailed It! dessert, or on the hunt trying to find the latest Funko Pop! to add to her collection.

Real Estate Associations

How do you react to housing discrimination? Learn from NAR’s new course

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) NAR’s new interactive training simulation confronts housing discrimination by putting agents in the shoes of homebuyers.

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Man sitting in a home with dog at his feet, subject to housing discrimination.

Would you know housing discrimination if you saw it?

Are you sure?

And what would you do about it?

If you’re a real estate agent, broker or Realtor, you’ve had a fair amount of training on fair housing laws. But discrimination can sometimes creep in in subtle ways – from which listings you offer a client to which clients you decide to work with to just an offhand remark about a neighborhood.

What if you’ve been part of the problem – and you didn’t even realize it?

Now you can test yourself while sharpening your understanding of housing discrimination to ensure you’re offering all clients a fair, equitable, and positive experience.

This week the National Association of Realtors (NAR) launched an online interactive training toolFairhaven.realtor – to let you do just that.

In the fictional town of Fairhaven, you work against the clock to close four different transactions that involve some kind of discrimination. You must choose how to respond, and those responses determine your journey through the simulations. Built-in feedback along the way illustrates how you could avoid the fair housing pitfalls in each situation.

To deepen the impact, the course puts you in the role of a client experiencing discrimination and pairs that with testimonials from real people whose lives have been impacted by it.

“Fairhaven uses the immersive power of storytelling to deliver powerful lessons that will help promote equity in our nation’s housing market,” said Charlie Oppler, CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty, NAR’s incoming president for 2021. “NAR will continue our work to create innovative anti-discrimination training and to champion efforts that encourage diversity, fight racial bias and build more inclusive communities.”

The online platform is free to real estate professionals and doesn’t require NAR membership to use. NAR will also offer Fairhaven as a software package for brokerages and associations to incorporate into their learning management systems. It was developed in partnership with global professional services firm Ernst and Young.

Fairhaven.realtor is the latest resource offered to realtors as part of its Accountability, Culture Change and Training (ACT!) initiative designed to promote equal opportunity in real estate.

At the Nov. 19 Diversity and Inclusion virtual summit hosted by The Hill, Oppler offered a formal apology for the role realtors have played in the history of housing discrimination, including the practices of redlining and blockbusting.

“We can’t go back to fix the mistakes of the past, but we can look at this problem squarely in the eye,” Oppler said. “And, on behalf of our industry, we can say that what Realtors did was shameful, and we are sorry.”

Bryan Greene, NAR’s director of fair housing policy, discussed the effects of housing discrimination, including creating disparities in wealth. Discrimination denied Black families the same opportunities to build wealth through home ownership, Greene said, adding that white Americans own 10 times the wealth of African-Americans.

“Realtors have an admittedly tough history,” Greene said. “But we have turned the corner and now have emerged as leaders on these important issues.”

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Real Estate Associations

Combatting key claims in class-action accusations toward NAR [EDITORIAL]

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) With the latest accusations in class-action suit against the NAR, one real estate agent has done some digging to see how viable these claims really are.

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Woman looking at laptop open to shopping website.

I am a member of NAR, and for full disclosure, I am not an attorney. I reviewed the various complaints and performed research, discovering information that could aid in the defense. In my view, Plaintiff (Conti-CA) makes misleading claims and adds assertions to muddy the waters in this class-action suit.

For example:

“Requiring every seller‐broker, when listing a property on an MLS, to make a “blanket unilateral offer […] of compensation” to any buyer agent who may find a buyer for the home;”

This is misleading; compensation is not paid to agents who “find a buyer for the home.” Commissions are earned upon an Agent procuring a client who successfully closes on a transaction that includes mutually agreed terms and conditions. This is not an adversarial transaction, despite how Attorneys try to frame it. Sellers want to sell; Buyers want to acquire, and Agents facilitate.

Moreover: “Requiring that the offer of compensation to the buyer agent be a blanket offer — i.e., the exact same compensation terms must be simultaneously offered to every buyer agent without regard to their experience, the services they are providing to the buyer, or the financial arrangement they have made with the buyer;”

If a Buyer’s Agent procures a Buyer who successfully acquires a residence at a price and terms agreeable to the Seller, then “compensation terms must be simultaneously offered to every buyer agent without regard to their experience” is irrelevant.

Furthermore, I challenge these “high power” law firms to name a profession where compensation is not established upfront.

Additionally, they claim “NAR’s requirement that offers of compensation be expressed in specific dollar or percentage terms enable buyer agents to easily compare the financial compensation offered to them by home sellers and steer their clients to higher commission homes.”

Would the Plaintiff’s Counsel share an alternative method for conveying compensation? Maybe the Peso so Agents would take extra steps using currency converters?

In the same complaint, Plaintiffs assert, “According to data from the NAR, many homebuyers no longer locate prospective homes with the assistance of a broker, but rather independently through online services. Buyer agents increasingly have been retained after their client has already found the home the client wishes to buy.”

These assertions obliterate the Plaintiffs’ allegations of massive steering. If a Consumer finds a home, and a Realtor refuses to show the house, the Consumer will find another Agent. Zillow had 9.8 billion page views in 2020.

Conspiracy

The most significant allegation is that a conspiracy exists between NAR members to use the MLS to create a supra-competitive pricing scheme, and decoupling agent commissions (each Consumer pays their agent) would result in a significant decline in commission structures.

This claim fails.

1st Plaintiffs attempt to frame the argument based on the percentage of the sale price when the fees to transact are a superior factor. Consumers bank dollars, not percentages. Moreover, they cherry-pick a few markets with an emphasis on Singapore as examples of lower commission percentages.

In a three-minute discovery session, I researched the US v Singapore markets, and these are my findings.

  • The average price of a US residence totaled $389,400 (based on 2019 data.)
  • The commission paid, based on the US average of 4.94%, totaled $19,236
  • The average price of a Singapore residence totaled $874,372 USD.
  • The commission paid, based on the Singapore average of 3%, totaled $26,231 USD.

Moreover, some publications suggest there is commission sharing between Buyer/Seller Agents in Singapore. Again, Consumer’s bank dollars, not percentages, it appears that the Plaintiff’s counsel is oblivious to this variable.

It is MORE expensive to transact in Singapore.

Decoupling Commissions

I have found no evidence that decoupling reduces commissions. As shown in the following images, I discovered the opposite based on a 2015 study by the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ articles display in the first position when performing a simple Google search; however, I have yet to see WSJ commission studies cited in any complaints. Alternatively, they cite studies from 2002. Furthermore, the US average rate is only slightly higher than the 10-Country average.

Data | WSJ

 

Counterclaims Against Plaintiffs

In my view, a reasonable person would conclude Plaintiffs used irrelevant data and omitted material information. Most purchase agreements include language similar to “ATTORNEY FEES: In any action, proceeding, or arbitration between Buyer and Seller arising out of this Agreement, the prevailing Buyer or Seller shall be entitled to reasonable attorney fees and costs from the non-prevailing Buyer or Seller.”

Considering Plaintiffs are suing NAR, the four largest Brokerages, the MLS system, and smaller Brokers as co-conspirators, these misleading claims impact 1000’s firms, so I suggest counterclaiming Plaintiffs for $5,000,000 and publicize it.

This may deter Consumers from engaging with ambulance-chasing law firms.

The issue of who pays commissions is irrelevant and undeterminable because Sellers will claim they are deducted from net proceeds while Buyers will claim it is baked into the purchase price, thus commissions are paid by Buyers. Even the various class-action claims conflict related to the party paying commissions.

In reality, the commission percentage assertions are a feeble attempt by parties to create an apples-to-apples comparison to other markets, however the information included in this opinion makes these claims defective.

It is time to inflict an overwhelming response.

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Real Estate Associations

NAR Report: Realtor trends across demographics reveal interesting consistencies

(REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATIONS) The latest report from the National Association of Realtors digs into all kinds of demographics to reveal what brought folks into the field.

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Realtors across demographics looking at data on laptop with papers scattered across desk.

Data makes the world go round. Money does as well, but that isn’t the main point today. Data also comes in many different forms. Points of connection between two seemingly different things can pull together planets (seriously, that’s how gravity functions). Understanding how those things come together is how you can access the world around you in new and interesting ways. From that train of thought, then, knowing your demographics in business can give you insight into a vast realm of possibilities.

Starting in 2017 the National Association of Realtors, America’s largest trade association with 1.4 million members, did a deep dive into their members. They took a look at not only their financial accomplishments but their genders, orientations, races, and even personality traits. Some of their other questionnaires seem to even delve into personal life decisions. The resulting inferences create an intriguing picture across demographics.

So, are you a Gemini, who can split their personality in two? Maybe you’re a Taurus whose stubborn streak makes a glacier seem fast when it comes to changing your mind. An essential piece of someone, their personality. Knowing the personality attributes that can help someone be successful in a job is exceedingly beneficial. You can plan out a path ahead of time before jumping into something without knowing if it’ll work out. Through their surveys, NAR discovered that 62% of residential realtors chose their own career path. The vast majority of them proclaim that being self-motivated is a must to be successful. Other skills such as people skills, communication, and problem-solving actually rank lower while still being needed. Think about that for a moment. You need to be self-motivated to go out and do this job, but all of these successful people basically confirm that “It is mandatory to self-motivate”. Without this skill, you will not thrive.

NAR also did an analysis on how people got interested in real-estate in the first place. These numbers definitely reflect a corresponding link with the personality analysis. Less than 25% of people who answered the survey were brought into real-estate by someone else. This reveals yet again that self-motivated people are the ones who succeed across demographics.

But what they found is that the main draws of the job were also common. Being your own boss helps a majority in the commercial groups. Controlling your own workday with flexible hours was what pulled people into the more residential real estate. Both of these factors again lend towards a driven individual with a strong work ethic.

Interestingly, a lot of variation was found between demographics when it came to income comparisons between races. According to the NAR vice president Jessica Lautz “income may be lower as the typical home price in a neighborhood is lower, for other they may work only part-time and others may be new to the profession and have no ownership in the firm.” The associated numbers involved reveal that White/Caucasian members have the highest median gross personal income and then subsequently we have Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, and Black/African-American.

There was also a correlation between the White/Caucasian group and the Black/African-Americans that showed that the former also used real-estate sales as their main or only source of income. Whereas the latter had the highest percentage of people who only used it as a part-time occupation. Having a second job to bring up their overall income. Racial lines also seem to be divided by different types of real-estate. Hispanic/Latino and White/Caucasian were much more likely to be in the suburbs. Asian/Pacific Islander seem to focus in small towns or rural areas. Black/African-American members showed their greatest areas as urban or city sites.

An interesting mound of data was the statistics around LGBTQ+ people that came of this. The information showed that these members were focused in the urban or city areas at almost 50% more than their heterosexual counterparts. These members also spoke highly of some extra skills needed to succeed in this career. Sales and marketing acumen were something that was rated very high on their lists, surpassed only by superior communication and problem-solving skills. This group also surpassed their counterparts in both median number of residential transactions (4-5) and sales volume ($1.6 million – $1.3 million).

A lot of the different aspects of these surveys creates a picture of the type of person who would do well as a realtor. If someone is a self-starting, determined, and an excellent communicator then they’d have a spectacular start. They would have to put in effort for marketing and build a network but it’s a start.

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