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Spring isn’t only for homebuyers, it’s for remodelers, too

Spring is just around the corner, and the housing market is gearing up for a hot home buying season.

And while data suggest many Americans are likely to purchase homes, a recent survey from Trulia indicates a significant number of current homeowners will choose to remodel their homes instead.

“The tank has been low on inventory for years, and with new construction still sputtering well below pre-recession levels, some homeowners may decide to take matters into their own hands—perhaps not build a new house, but at least remodel their current one,” Trulia writes.

In fact, according to Trulia’s remodeling survey, a whopping 90% of homeowners plan to revamp their home sometime in the near future.

Interestingly, 17% of respondents who plan to remodel their homes within the next two years also have plans to sell.

“Of homeowners planning to sell their home in the next two years, 83% would not consider renovating or remodeling it and staying there over selling it,” Trulia writes. “Similarly, 87% of homeowners planning to renovate or remodel in the next two years wouldn’t consider selling their home instead of renovating or remodeling.”

However, of homeowners planning to sell in the next two years, 38% claim the top reason they won’t consider remodeling is because they plan to move to a different neighborhood.

Furthermore, among homeowners planning to renovate or remodel in the next two years, 40% don’t want to sell because they want to stay in their current home.

“Homeowners planning to sell often won’t consider remodeling their current home because they want a different neighborhood entirely, and homeowners planning to remodel have already found the neighborhood and home they want – even if it may need some sprucing up,” Trulia writes.

NOTE: Trulia said it commissioned The Harris Poll to conduct this online survey, consisting of 1,378 U.S. homeowners aged 18 and older. The survey was conducted through the dates of January 3-5, 2018 and February 1-5, 2019.

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Is now a good time to purchase a home?

It’s almost spring homebuying season, and new data from the National Association of Realtors indicates Americans are ready to purchase homes.

According to the group’s Q1 HOME survey, 37% of Americans strongly believe now is a good time to buy a home.

Although this percentage is slightly down from last year’s 38%, it’s still up from 34% in the last quarter of 2018.

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said several factors are helping to improve the attitudes of potential homebuyers.

“First, inventory has been rising, so those buyers interested in making a purchase will not be limited in choices,” Yun said. “Additionally, more stable home price trends are leading to more foot traffic at various open house gatherings.”

In fact, the share of respondents who believe local home prices have risen over the year fell from 63% in Q1 of 2019.

Furthermore, when respondents were asked about their perceptions regarding local home prices in the near future, 43% said they expect prices to stay the same over the next six months.

Even though this is up 2% from last quarter, a whopping 47% still believe prices will rise in the coming six months.

Interestingly, these expectations differ depending on housing market, as those who live in the Northeast and South earning between $50,000 to $100,000 are more likely to believe in coming price hikes, according to NAR.

However, Yun notes the West is experiencing the most variation in expectations surrounding home prices.

“A high percentage of the Western population believes that prices increased in the past year, while – possibly for the same reason – a higher segment from the West compared to other regions say prices could fall in the next 12 months,” Yun continued. “As to the broader economy, the perception is weaker and showing cracks in the Midwest.”

That being said, Yun indicates mortgage affordability has made the overall market more favorable for would-be homebuyers.

“The Federal Reserve’s decision to refrain from any foreseeable rate hikes was beneficial to potential buyers,” Yun said. “That move directly contributed to mortgage rates declining in quarter one, which provided a second-chance opportunity to those looking to buy who were priced out last quarter.” 

NOTE: The National Association of Realtors HOME Survey was administered through TechnoMetrica. The survey was conducted from January 2019 through March 2019 and represents a total of 2,710 household responses.

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Federal Reserve signals it won’t raise interest rates at all this year

At the conclusion of its March meeting, the Federal Reserve announced it is not raising the federal funds rate. In fact, the Fed is signaling it is done with the idea of rate hikes for the rest of 2019.

The Federal Open Market Committee’s statement indicated that the Fed is taking a cautious tone with the rates as it monitors the rate of inflation and other global economic conditions and developments.

 “In light of global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support these outcomes,” The FOMC statement said.

The committee said it will maintain its target range for the federal funds rate at 2.25-2.5%. For the most part, everyone thinks this is a good move. Therefore, is an interest rate cut the next step?

This sentiment echoes the FOMC’s earlier statements from its January meeting earlier this year.

The FOMC statement explains that the Fed has looked at recent indicators pointing to slower growth in the first quarter of the year.

National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions Chief Economist Curt Long issued the following statement after the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s March Federal Open Market Committee meeting:

“While the Fed’s decision to hold rates steady comes as no surprise, the abrupt and sizable adjustments to its forecast were,” said Long. “Where the FOMC’s median member forecast called for two rate hikes in December, that has been slashed to zero.”

Mike Fratantoni, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s chief economist, said it appears the Fed is done raising rates.

“As expected, the Federal Reserve left short-term rates unchanged at their March meeting,” he said. “The job market is quite strong, and even though wage growth has accelerated, inflation has not picked up and shows no signs of doing so. With that combination, Fed officials are comfortable leaving rates at their current level. If inflation were to increase, they might be forced to hike again, but it appears that we are at the end of the rate hiking cycle.

At its meeting, the Fed also announced it would slow the monthly reduction of its holdings of Treasury bonds from up to $30 billion to up to $15 billion beginning in May, confirming its intent to end its balance sheet runoff in September, if the economy and market conditions go as expected.

“The bigger news from this meeting was the clear signal that the Fed will stop allowing their balance sheet to shrink, and will begin to allow it to grow again starting this fall. Fed officials have noted that they would like to return the balance sheet to primarily Treasury assets, meaning that MBS will continue to roll off, with the proceeds being invested in Treasury securities,” Fratantoni said. “The Fed also noted the potential to sell “residual holdings” of MBS at some point, but that they would give plenty of notice before doing so. Over time, these changes could put some upward pressure on mortgage-Treasury spreads –  and ultimately – mortgage rates.”

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HUD still pursuing Facebook for allowing housing discrimination despite ad changes

Facebook may have announced massive changes to its advertising practices surrounding housing, lending, and employment ads, but that doesn’t mean that the government is done pursuing its claims that the social media giant enabled housing discrimination with its previous ad policies.

Last year, the Department of Housing and Urban Development took action against Facebook, claiming that the site’s advertising platform allowed property owners to discriminate against prospective renters and buyers based on their race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, or other factors, all of which are protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.

According to HUD’s complaint, Facebook’s advertising platform allowed advertisers to violate the Fair Housing Act in several ways, including displaying housing ads either only to men or women; not showing ads to users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture;” not showing ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting.”

After HUD filed its complaint against Facebook, the site announced that it was removing more than 5,000 ad target options to “help prevent misuse.”

But before Facebook announced those changes, several fair housing and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming that the site still allowed ads to discriminate against protected groups, including women, veterans with disabilities and single mothers.

That lawsuit led to a settlement announced Tuesday. As part of that settlement, Facebook announced that it would be making significant changes to the way it handles ads for housing, lending, and employment.

One of the new policies prohibits advertisers from targeting housing, employment, or credit ads by age, gender or zip code.

Despite those changes, HUD is not giving up its pursuit of Facebook.

A HUD spokesperson told HousingWire Wednesday that the agency’s complaint against Facebook is still outstanding, adding that the agency is in discussion with Facebook about the issues at the core of the complaint.

HUD’s complaint is a “Secretary-Initiated Complaint,” which are fair housing complaints filed directly against those whom HUD believes may be in violation of the Fair Housing Act. HUD noted at the time that the complaint was not a determination of liability.    

According to HUD, a formal fact-finding investigation was to commence after the complaint was filed. From there, Facebook was to be given an opportunity to respond to the complaint, but HUD noted that it may still file a formal discrimination charge at a later date.

And as of now, that possibility still exists.

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Opendoor lands $300 million capital infusion

Digital real estate disrupter Opendoor has landed yet another massive cash infusion, raising $300 million in a recent investment round and bringing its total equity capital to $1.3 billion.

Now, the company is valued at $3.8 billion, sources close the matter told TechCrunch.

Investors in this latest round of funding included General Atlantic, Hawk Equity, SoftBank Vision Fund, Access Technology Ventures, Lennar Corporation, Fifth Wall Ventures, SV Angel, Norwest Venture Partners, NEA, GGV Capital, Khosla Ventures and GV, TechCrunch said.

Opendoor secured a similar cash infusion less than six months ago, landing a $400 million investment from Softbank Vision Fund.

The company, which launched in 2014, is one of a number of so-called iBuyers who have set out to change the way Americans buy and sell homes by whittling the process down to a few simple online transactions.

In essence, home sellers can sell their house to Opendoor through an online exchange, and the company in turn will assess the home, decipher an appropriate offer and sell the home to a buyer.

The concept is to eliminate the pain points associated with the home-selling process, and the idea appears to be resonating.

Key to Opendoor’s business strategy is its data modeling, which enables it to locate gaps and opportunities in certain markets and create optimal pricing for the homes it’s selling.

Co-Founder and CEO Eric Wu told TechCrunch that the business is designed to succeed regardless of the market’s health.

“During a slowdown, it becomes increasingly more painful to sell a home, which impacts mobility for homeowners and increases the need for reliable home sales through products like Opendoor,” Wu said. “It is our responsibility to manage that risk and charge the proper fees to account for the volatility.”

Wu told TechCrunch that the recent capital infusion will facilitate its expansion into more markets and fund new product development.  

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Supreme Court makes it harder for borrowers to fight foreclosures in non-judicial states

Law firms, mortgage lenders and servicers were just awarded more protection in serving non-judicial foreclosures, according to a recent Supreme Court ruling.

The ruling is a victory for the mortgage industry in its fight to retrieve property from delinquent homeowners. One attorney claims the ruling may eliminate thousands of similar homeowner lawsuits.

In the case of the Obduskey v. McCarthy Holthus decision from earlier today, the homeowner tried to fight his non-judicial foreclosure in Colorado.

Each state differs in foreclosure requirements, but generally fit into two category: foreclosures that get to be decided by the courts or foreclosures that are not — a non-judicial foreclosure. Colorado is a non-judicial foreclosure state.

Homeowner Dennis Obduskey alleged that once he received a foreclosure notice from law firm McCarthy Holthus, he invoked protection under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

This act protects consumers and maintains that: “a ‘debt collector’ must ‘cease collection’ until it ‘obtains verification of the debt’ and mails a copy to the debtor,” the Supreme Court ruling states.

However, McCarthy Holthus is not a debt collector by definition, as it only pursues non-judicial foreclosures, the Court ruled.

From the ruling:

Obduskey argues that McCarthy engaged in more than security-interest enforcement by sending notices that any ordinary homeowner would understand as an attempt to collect a debt. Here, however, the notices sent by McCarthy were antecedent steps required under state law to enforce a security interest, and the Act’s (partial) exclusion of “the enforcement of security interests” must also exclude the legal means required to do so.

“This decision essentially gives law firms and lenders more protection in non-judicial foreclosure states,” said David Scheffel, partner at law firm Dorsey Whitney.

“In these jurisdictions, homeowners and borrowers will no longer be able to file lawsuits under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) against law firms who are pursuing foreclosures,” he added.

“This essentially eliminates a heavily used practice by plaintiffs’ attorneys,” Scheffel added. “Ultimately, this should have the effect of reducing the cost that lenders/servicers bare in terms of getting to a final foreclosure in these states as the FDCPA lawsuits delay this process significantly. At the end of the day, this decision will eliminate thousands of these lawsuits in non-judicial foreclosure states like Massachusetts, California, Colorado, and Minnesota.”

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HousingWire announces agenda

When we started planning our second annual event, our goal was to design a very practical conference that would give marketers the information and insight they need to succeed in this purchase market so they can Play to Win.

To that end, we invited marketing leaders from 10 lenders to serve on our advisory board, and asked them:  

  • What is the single greatest challenge facing mortgage marketers this year?
  • What’s the most impactful solution you are working with right now, and why? Is there a problem you have that there doesn’t seem to be a solution for?
  • Which social channels are most important for reaching your customers? How has your strategy changed in the last year?
  • What topic do you wish we would have a session on?
  • What’s important for marketers to know when it comes to referral relationships?

We took their answers — some were pages long! — and developed our session topics around their insights, ensuring tangible benefits for our attendees.

So, what is the single greatest challenge facing mortgage marketers right now? The most common answer: How to do more with less. That answer didn’t end up as a session, but rather as marching orders informing how we approach every one of the sessions — how do marketers accomplish social selling, content marketing, branding, etc. when their budget might be smaller or they have less staff than last year?

And that mantra has spurred us to seek speakers from a range of companies — the solutions for a top 25 HMDA lender won’t likely be the same as the solution a stand-alone marketer needs and we want a range of perspectives and potential solutions.

Armed with those insights, we’ve packed a ton of content into the day-and-a-half summit covering topics that include referral marketing, personal branding, content marketing, how to build a marketing tech stack, how to use video, podcasts and voice effectively, and so much more. We’re very excited to host what is shaping up to be a meeting of some of the smartest, most successful mortgage marketers in the business. 

Check out the full agenda and don’t wait to reserve your seat — our early bird pricing expires after March 31. 

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Ohio law adds to increasing law of nonbank servicers, MSR holders

Ohio has turn a latest state to start including debt servicing rights holders in a increasing law of nonbank servicers underneath a new law.

The law, HB 489, went into outcome Wednesday, though companies have until a finish of a month to approve though penalty. In further to expanding a chartering of nonbank servicers, a law alone rolls behind some examinations of banks and credit unions.

A debt servicer is tangible in a law as “an entity that, for itself or on interest of a hilt of a debt loan, binds a servicing rights, annals debt payments on a books or performs other functions to lift out a debt holder’s obligations or rights underneath a debt agreement.”


“If a confidence for that loan is an Ohio property, that’s where this is going to impact inhabitant lenders,” pronounced Bob Niemi, a former Ohio regulator. Niemi now serves as a comparison confidant for financial services during law organisation Bradley Arant, though is not an attorney.

The new law’s thoroughfare follows a array of attempts over a years to move law of nonbank servicers in line with practices suggested for accreditation by a Conference of State Bank Supervisors and a American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators, pronounced Niemi, who is a former emissary superintendent for a Ohio Division of Financial Institutions and a former National Mortgage Licensing System ombudsman.

While all though a few states need chartering or registration of nonbank servicers by a law of debt collectors, financial services firms or both, a deception of identical mandate on MSR holders is reduction consistent.

Examples of other states that have finished this embody Arkansas, that imposed a $5,000 excellent on a pacifist hilt of an MSR package that contained 169 loans cumulative by properties in a state in 2017.

Any additional correspondence costs could be quite tough on MSR holders now due to a new run of disappearing rates given Nov that has harm valuations.

But accurately how and either Ohio intends to make a new law stays to be seen. Niemi encourages MSR holders to deliberate their attorneys and check with state authorities if they have correspondence questions.

Technical corrections could still be done to a Ohio law in response to such concerns if state officials were amenable, though they would have to pass by a check submitted to a legislature to do it, he said.

Jonathan Dever, a Republican Ohio state deputy who during one time was deliberate a tip candidate to lead a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, sponsored a law.

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Investors favor equity ETFs, junk bonds as risk appetite grows: Lipper

(Reuters) – Investors poured money into equity exchange-traded funds and high-yield “junk” bond funds in the week ended on Wednesday, as U.S. President Donald Trump said he would extend a deadline to delay escalating tariffs on Chinese imports, citing “substantial progress” in talks between the two countries.

U.S.-based high-yield bond funds attracted $698 million, marking the sector’s fifth straight week of inflows, according to data from Refinitiv’s Lipper research service. U.S.-based equity ETFs attracted about $7.5 billion in the latest week, Lipper noted.

Investors’ risk appetite grew in the wake of “some positive” news about U.S.-China trade talks earlier in the week, said Pat Keon, senior research analyst at Lipper. He also cited the U.S. Federal Reserve’s statements that the central bank would be patient in hiking interest rate and that it would soon stop reducing its balance sheet.

“It was a good week overall, net inflows just shy of $16 billion with all four asset groups – money markets, taxable bond funds, muni bond funds, and equity funds – taking in net new money,” Keon said.

Taxable bond funds posted $4.3 billion in inflows, the largest outside of money market funds.

“It was the taxable bond funds group’s seventh straight weekly net inflow,” he said. “Ultra-short obligation funds (USO) drove the overall positive net flows for the group as they took in $1.47 billion. This is the continuation of a long-term trend as USO funds have had net inflows in 50 of the last 51 weeks for a total intake of over $69 billion.”

Equity ETFs, which attracted $7.5 billion, were responsible for all of the net inflows as equity mutual funds saw $5.1 billion leave, Keon noted.

“This was the second straight net outflow for equity mutual funds after six straight net inflows,” he said. “The net outflows for equity mutual funds were across the board as the majority of peer groups saw money leave, both for domestic and nondomestic funds.”

The two largest net inflows for individual ETFs belong to broad market U.S. equity products as SPDR SP 500 ETF and iShares Core SP Total U.S. Stock Market ETF took in $2 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively, Keon pointed out.

Reporting by Jennifer Ablan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Richard Chang

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Oil major Total CEO’s compensation drops 17 percent in 2018: company document

PARIS (Reuters) – The board of French oil and gas major Total has proposed total 2018 compensation for Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne of 3.1 million euros ($3.55 million), compared with 3.8 million in 2017, company documents showed on Wednesday.

The total pay includes 1.4 million euros in fixed compensation, the same as in 2017, and 1.72 million in annual variable compensation, compared with 2.4 million in 2017, and 69,000 in other benefits, the documents showed.

The company said in a statement that the decrease in variable compensation resulted from criteria based on the average three-year change in Total’s adjusted net income in comparison with those of its peers. “The Board of Directors wants to emphasize that the decrease by 17 percent of Patrick Pouyanne’s cash remuneration due for the year 2018, resulting from the strict application of the rules,… doesn’t reflect in any way its appreciation of the exceptional work accomplished in 2018 by (him),” it said.

Pouyanne has often quipped that he is the least paid among the bosses of the global oil majors. The company reported a 28 percent jump in full-year profit in 2018 to $13.6 billion.

In comparison, Shell’s CEO Ben van Beurden’s 2018 pay package more than doubled to 20.1 million euros and Chevron Corp has said its Chief Executive Officer Michael Wirth is eligible for $19 million in total pay this year.

Total’s shareholders will vote on Pouyanne’s proposed package during an annual meeting on May 29.

Reporting by Bate Felix; editing by Leigh Thomas and Kirsten Donovan

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