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Homeownership

Recent survey says great time to buy/sell a home is now/not now?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Are people ready to buy a home? The most recent NAR survey explores this and other questions, and of course the answers vary

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The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) conducted a poll during the final quarter of 2019 and the results are in: more than half of Americans believe it’s a good time to buy a home.

In fact, over 70% of individuals born between 1925 and 1964 (the silent and boomer generations) report that they believe it’s a great time to buy. Of course, part of this likely has to do with the continued decrease in mortgage rates, which makes buying a home a less expensive process.

Doctor Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the NAR, says these attitudes towards home buying are also influenced by the strong economy. With the economic conditions improving, many also make the assumption that the housing market is turning around in their favor as well. Not to mention, the strong job market has made relocating a more feasible option for many – meaning more homes to buy and sell.

And speaking of home sales: many also believe now is a great time to sell a home. Granted, this perspective seems to be skewed in favor of those with incomes over $100,000. Of that demographic, over 80% reported confidence in selling their home.

That said, this optimism is far from universal.

Those earning less that $100,000 per year were less likely to believe the economy was improving, which isn’t too surprising. Furthermore, those from urban areas were less likely to have an optimistic outlook on the economy compared to people who lived in rural parts of the country. This might have to do with the housing prices in urban areas increasing at a faster rate than housing prices in less populous regions.

Of the demographics, millennials (born between 1981 – 1996) are the least likely to report an optimistic economic outlook and the most likely to believe housing prices will increase in their communities. Then again, makes sense why the people entering the job market during the aftermath of the 2008 recession might look at the glass as half empty.

NAR’s survey covered 2,707 households across the nation and was conducted by TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence between October and December of 2019.

Brittany is a Staff Writer for The American Genius with a Master's in Media Studies under her belt. When she's not writing or analyzing the educational potential of video games, she's probably baking.

Homeownership

What are G-fees and why does the gov’t want to raise and take them?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Trade groups are banning together to push politicians to not raise G-fees to cover their own ancillary budget, It really would only restrict home buyers.

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As many Americans know, our national budget has a yearly deficit. These deficits have placed many lawmakers into situations that resemble a not so comfortable space in between a rock and a hard place. This results in many discussions over the budget each year, and in some cases, a government shut down until a path is chosen for the country. On March 6, 2020, 33 organizations sent a letter to multiple lawmakers that could have significant impacts on the decisions of the housing market for not only fiscal year 2021 but over 10 years later.

The topic of the letter focused around “g-fees”, or also known as guarantee fees within the “GSEs” (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). These g-fees, “cover projected credit losses from borrower defaults over the lifetime of the loans, administrative costs, and a return on capital” according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

When these g-fees are hoisted up, like in 2011 to fund a two-month payroll tax relief period, it raises the cost of homeownership nationwide for 10 years. The letter gives the example of a “10 basis points [raised] in g-fees amounts to an additional $5,100 in mortgage payments on the average GSE loan amount of $255,000.” In short, homeowners or those looking to get a mortgage loan would almost instantly see an increase in how much they would pay if g-fees were raised.

Besides laying out the details of how g-fees function, the letter also focused on this cohort’s logical objection for not raising g-fees. These organizations stated they “firmly believe that g-fees should only be used as originally intended: as a critical risk management tool to protect against potential mortgage credit losses.” and not used to fund non-housing related programs and becoming the nation’s “piggy bank”.

If you are a homeowner, or can be impacted by mortgages in any situation, it might be time to start saving or speak up. This is a current issue as the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 suggests using g-fees again to help fund loses in the budget.

These are the organizations who are asking for this reconsideration through their letter:

American Bankers Association
American Escrow Association
American Land Title Association
Asian Real Estate Association of America
Center for Responsible Lending
Community Associations Institute
Council for Affordable and Rural Housing
Credit Union National Association
District of Columbia Association of REALTORS
Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
Housing Policy Council
Independent Community Bankers of America
Institute of Real Estate Management
Leading Builders of America
Manufactured Housing Institute
Mortgage Bankers Association
National Apartment Association
National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions
National Association of Home Builders
National Association of Housing Cooperatives
National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB)
National Association of REALTORS®
National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)
National Community Stabilization Trust
National Council of State Housing Agencies
National Fair Housing Alliance
National Housing Conference
National Housing Resource Center
National Multifamily Housing Council
National NeighborWorks Association
The Community Mortgage Lenders of America
The Realty Alliance U.S. Mortgage Insurers

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Homeownership

The Federal Housing Finance Agency is dropping serious cash to help buyers

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) What would you do with half a billion dollars? The Federal Housing Finance Agency is putting it towards affordable housing.

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Last year, ATTOM Data Solutions, released a study showing that wages in about 80% of the United States can’t keep up with the rising cost of buying a home. In fact, for about 59% of the areas studied, it was cheaper to rent three bedroom housing, rather than buy.

As such, it should come as no surprise that the number of low-income individuals surpasses the amount of affordable housing available. “Is it a housing problem, or is it an income problem?” says Chris Herbert, managing director of Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard, “I would say it is both.”

The thing is, a lack of affordable housing hurts everyone. Would-be homeowners are left renting and forced out of certain areas (and opportunities), while rising prices can also make it more difficult for people to sell their homes. Yikes.

Luckily, it’s not all bad news, thanks to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which is allocating “$502.2 million to the National Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund.”

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t going to fix the systemic problems that have created this disparity between income and housing prices, but it’s definitely a nice start. For instance, the National Housing Trust Fund commits at least 90% of its funding to creating and maintaining affordable housing, with the other 10% going to help first-time homeowners take on some of the unexpected costs of homeownership.

Meanwhile, the Capital Magnet Grant Fund focuses on providing grants to help revitalize low-income communities. They’ve created over 13,000 affordable homes so far, though only about 12% of these homes are for homeownership – most are rentals. Still, not bad when it comes to helping low-income citizens afford the rising prices of living.

Both groups have great track records, so it will be exciting to see how they utilize this donation of over half a billion dollars. The president of the National Association of Realtors®, Vince Malta, also commended the move.

“Initiatives that address the root of the nation’s housing affordability crisis must take center stage in discussions surrounding the future of housing finance,” Malta explained, “NAR looks forward to leading this discussion and working with the FHFA (Federal Housing Finance Agency) to ensure all responsible, credit-worthy individuals can achieve the American Dream of homeownership.”

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Homeownership

How to inform clients about scams that continue to victimize homebuyers

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Real estate scams continue to victimize people, but Realtors are in a position to better protect homebuyers. Here are some tips.

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Despite warning after warning and news story after news story, homebuyers keep getting their money stolen in real estate wire transfer schemes. Some blame the mortgage and real estate industries for not doing enough to educate and protect their clients. Others say the people committing these crimes are getting more and more sophisticated. No matter who’s to blame, there’s no arguing that this crime is on the rise.

What exactly do these real estate scams look like? These criminals usually hack into a business’s emails, often a title company, and get all the pertinent information they need. They then steal and copy that company’s letterhead, and the email addresses, signature blocks and any other relevant information they will need to fool the homebuyer. The homebuyer then gets an email that appears to be from the title company, asking them to wire money, often tens or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, you’re probably wondering right now: What can I do? You want to know how to warn and protect your clients and keep your reputation intact (and avoid costly lawsuits). The following safeguarding tips can help keep cash out of cyberthieves’ hands:

1. Pick up the phone. If you’re closing on a home and receive an email with instructions on how to transfer money to your closing company or lender, take a few minutes to call your agent or broker to make sure it’s legit. Yes, this might be a bit annoying, but not as annoying as losing thousands of dollars in an email scam.

2. Be aware. These scammers usually send emails that look like the real thing. If you’re a homebuyer, look for weirdly timed emails (sent in the middle of the night) or spelling and punctuation errors. Is there a sense of urgency to the email?

3. Educate your clients. If you’re a real estate professional, make sure your clients know about this scheme. Not everyone is aware they could be a target (which is why it keeps happening). Set up a specific passcode for each client.

4. Consider using BuyerDocs and asking your title company to use this technology for all of their transactions.. What’s BuyerDocs, you ask? This tech startup provides secure document delivery for closing companies and homebuyers. The company says it has protected more than $5 billion in wire transfers in 2018 and works with big and small businesses across the country.

Scams will never be eradicated, but it is part of your job to know the current scams and how to protect transactions against shady folks.

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