Category Archives: Mortgage & Real Estate

Freddie Mac: Housing market will regain momentum this spring

Lower than expected mortgage rates and moderating home prices are projected to heat up the spring home-buying season, according to Freddie Mac’s March Forecast.

However, the government sponsored enterprise has a less optimistic outlook when it comes to the annual GDP growth rate.

Freddie now predicts GDP growth will reach 1.2% in the first quarter of 2019, rising to 2.0% for the remainder of the year. Unfortunately, the entity expects the rate to eventually edge down to 1.8% by 2020.

And when it comes to the U.S. labor market, the forecast indicates unemployment will drop to 3.8% in 2019 before eventually increasing to 3.9%.

That being said, Freddie does believe rates on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will average 4.5% this year, eventually rising to 4.8% in 2020.

This could bring the housing market some much-needed momentum.

“The real estate market is thawing in response to the sustained decline in mortgage rates and rebound in consumer confidence – two of the most important drivers of home sales,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater said. “Rising sales demand coupled with more inventory than previous spring seasons suggests that the housing market is in the early stages of regaining momentum.”

In fact, Freddie says housing starts will grow within the next two years, increasing to 1.27 million units this year and 1.33 million units next year.

And lower mortgage rates are expected to accelerate growth of total home sales, as they move forward to 5.94 million in 2019 and to 6.14 million in 2020, according to Freddie.  

Home prices are also expected to increase, reaching 3.5% and 2.5% in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

As for the remainder of 2019, Freddie predicts single-family mortgage originations will rise by 1.6%, equating $1.67 trillion. Notably, this will also be the similar rate in the following year.

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[Pulse] 5 actionable tips on building a personal brand for real estate and mortgage professionals

I got into the mortgage business in 2008, possibly the worst year for the financial markets. I was armed with three people in my sphere of influence and $1,900 in capital.

Five years later, I was named among the top 200 loan officers in the country.

Fast-forward a couple of years, the company I started (Arcus Lending) posted an astronomic three-year growth of 987%. For reference, the national average for private company growth at that time was 6.7%. We were named to Inc. 500’s coveted list of the fastest-growing private companies in America.

While most successes can’t be attributed to just one factor, in my case, personal branding played a huge role. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Maybe it was my limited sphere of influence, maybe it was my poor networking skills, or it could have been my hatred for cold calling (I am convinced in hindsight), but I decided very early on that I wanted the business to come to me and not the other way around.

We are talking “inbound marketing,” a term made popular by HubSpot, or “permission marketing” (read Seth Godin’s book by the same name if you haven’t already).

Here are the top five tips I have learned in my growth from a $2.8 million producer in my first year to a $180 million producer last year.

Tip No. 1: Choose your medium.

It’s important to figure out the medium you are most comfortable with and are most likely to excel in. Don’t seek perfection, that is a Utopian dream. Pursue excellence instead.

Text – blogging

With the attention economy shrinking, blogging is among the most dependable methods of drawing traffic in, creating a reader-writer bond, and turning prospects into customers.

Audio – podcasts

The rule of podcasting is simple. Talk with a lot of love about anything you feel worth talking about and you will definitely penetrate into audience consciousness. End result: They will follow you.

Video – vlogs

With SnapChat, YouTube, and Instagram having become the nucleus of our lives, the viral prospect of vlogging has made it a hot internet property. Everyday people can talk into the camera lens and attract millions of watchers. If you can manipulate multiple platforms, post like an authority and are on the dot with your demographics, vlogging can help you take off into the orbit.

If, at first, you can’t decide, dabble in more than one medium and see which one catches your fancy.

Tip No. 2: Be consistent with your content creation.

Once you’ve figured out which medium best suits your style and personality, it’s time to work on your content. Here are some ways to find dozens, if not hundreds, of content ideas:

  • What questions are you frequently asked by your customers?
  • Market statistics – Think real estate price reports, mortgage rate changes, etc.
  • News that impacts your industry – Fed announcements, job reports, special government incentives, tax laws, housing shortage reports, driverless cars, or something else that will impact the housing or the mortgage market
  • Community news – Events happening and trending in the communities you serve

Consistently producing weekly content is a great start. Unless you are really good, you might not get much traction in the first few weeks.

When I started blogging in 2009, I wrote a blog post every week and it took me six months of doing that before I got my first call, confirming that someone had seen me online.

2019 is a way more crowded market than 2009. So, you are even more likely to be disappointed in the initial phase. This said, if you are consistently producing high-quality, value-added content, your audience will eventually notice. After all, there is only so much great content on the internet and contrary to the popular notion. The audience will give you the props for writing something really smart.

Tip No. 3: Content by itself is NOT the king. Amplification of the content is.

Just creating content by itself is not going to do anything for your branding. Only putting up quality content is never going to be enough (it is like winking in the dark), unless you get your content exposed to your targeted audience.

It can’t be emphasized enough that exposure holds all the keys. What can you do for more people to see your content (especially in times when your competitors are just as much or more exposure-centric)?

Here are some ideas:

  • Share on all social media platforms you are active on. On Facebook, post it to the relevant groups. Remember the goal is not to be spammy, but to share something the members can derive value from. If you achieve this goal, the members will further share it with their friends.
  • Email to your database. Make it easy for them to share with their friends.

Tip No. 4: Use influence to create leverage.

After writing a blog post every week for about 10 months, I got my first media interview request. An editor from Yahoo! Finance reached out to me for a story he was doing on mortgages. Since then, they have kept it coming. I have been featured on dozens of major media platforms.

If you are good and if you are consistent, not just your targeted audience, but reporters and other content creators will pay heed. Note that they are usually on the wrong side of a deadline, so make sure to get back to them quickly. Reporters hate having to find a new source every time, so if you are responsive and share opinions that you think their audience will value, they would like to quote you over and over again. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them directly either, via Twitter or services like HARO and Qwoted.

The same holds true for podcasters, YouTubers and bloggers. Study the kind of content they are creating and the kind of audience they are catering to. If you think you can bring some new perspective or idea to their demographic, pitch to the creators to feature you in their content. Almost all of them are looking for fresh ideas and faces.

Tip No. 5: Match the experience to the promise.

With a robust content library, strong online presence and consistent media coverage, some customers might treat you like a mini-celebrity when they reach out to you for their real estate or mortgage needs.

Make sure the experience they get from the time they call you, email you or fill out a form on the website to the time of closing the transaction is in line with their expectation. A branding like that comes with an expectation of enhanced customer service.

You don’t walk into Nordstrom expecting Walmart service.

Map your own six-star service, deliver it consistently and watch your business soar.

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Marketer Intel: Jim Anderson at Stearns Lending on margin compression, M&A and what’s next

We recruited 10 marketing leaders from some of the top lenders in the industry to serve on the advisory board for our summit June 13-14 in Charlotte, North Carolina. These leaders helped us develop an amazing agenda focused on giving mortgage marketers practical insight to solve the challenges they face every day and now we’re interviewing each one to find out more about their perspective on the industry and what they see coming in the future.

In this segment we welcome Jim Anderson, CMO of Stearns Lending. Jim joined Stearns last year after serving as CMO for Certainty Home Loans for two years, where he successfully launched a company rebrand and name change, and Introduced an enterprise CRM and marketing automation solution, process and campaigns across the organization. Those campaigns resulted in 507 units and $106.4 million in funded loan volume and 82% loan officer system adoption and utilization in the first 12 months. Earlier in his career Jim held senior positions at Accenture, CNN and The Weather Channel

HousingWire: What is the biggest challenge facing mortgage marketers right now?

jim AndersonJim Anderson: More competition over fewer loans have led to margin compression and tight balance sheets. So marketers and loan officers need to be very selective in their investments, focus on ROI (a good thing) and do more with less.

HW: CMOs are bombarded with new technology options. How do you decide which ones are worth pursuing?

JA: First we only review technology that supports our business goals and marketing plan. Narrowing the vendor options to demo can be challenging and time consuming. We score our needs and approach the vendors that deliver the solution that best fits those needs.

HW: The mortgage industry saw lots of MA in 2018. What are some of the challenges and opportunities for marketing departments in the midst of those upheavals?

JA: There is a lot of misinformation in the marketplace, so a strong internal communication strategy is key to retain talent. But the market conditions also provide an advantage to well capitalized companies with sound business models to capitalize and bring on great talent.

HW:  Earlier in your career you worked with The Weather Channel and CNN. What were some things that you had to adjust to when you moved into the mortgage space?

JA: Learning a new language to start. Mortgage loves an acronym. Another difference is the fierce entrepreneurial spirt at the core of many originators. Many have build great reputations and local brands, so mortgage marketers need to weave together the originator’s personal brand with the corporate brand and find ways to leverage the advantages of both.

HW: What is one thing you can’t live without?

JA: My family. But focusing specifically on business I’d say my iPhone.

HW: What is one thing you love about the culture at Stearns?

JA: My amazing team and the “I can help you” culture where everyone rallies to solve a problem.

HW: Where do you think the mortgage industry will see the most marketing growth or impact in 2019?

JA: Among the independents I expect continued investments in technology to capture the consumer earlier in the borrower journey. The opportunity will be for companies that can pull those borrowers through the process. Or recapture a borrower that fell out but reentered the market.  Technology is only the start, organizations that coach and develop the sales team to be aware of the triggers and armed with action plans to capture those borrowers will win.


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LoanCare appoints new chief information officer

LoanCare, a ServiceLink company, recently announced Sudhir Nair joined the company as its executive vice president and chief information officer.

In this new role, Nair will be responsible for optimizing and managing the overall operation of LoanCare’s IT department.

Sudhir Nair“We are excited to have Sudhir join our executive team. Given his expertise, we’re confident that he will help take our business to the next level,” LoanCare President Dave Worrall said. “We are committed to innovation and providing the best digital mortgage experience for our customers and clients and we look forward to seeing how Sudhir can position us for the future.”

Nair has more than two decades of experience in the mortgage and consumer lending industry, most recently serving as the executive vice president and chief information officer at Xome.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to join a company like LoanCare, a ServiceLink Company, one that has such a strong reputation for delivering best-in-class service to its customers,” Nair said. “I look forward to leveraging my skill set and building on its great success.”

Need help getting hired or looking to hire? HousingWire wants to help. Our new service, HousingJobs, lists the latest gigs in the housing industry for loan officers, underwriters, processors, loan servicers, and tech and marketing pros.

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There are too many big houses on the market, and it’s a problem

There are scores of huge homes across the Southern U.S. that are simply sitting on the market, and sellers are settling for massive price cuts in order to move on with their lives.

What gives? Blame the Boomers.

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, hordes of retirees with easy access to credit built their late-in-life dream homes across the Sunbelt in the early 2000s, only to discover that these huge, high-maintenance abodes didn’t exactly make for ideal living in their Golden Years.

But now, the style is out of date – and the price out of reach – for many of today’s home shoppers.

“These days, buyers of all ages eschew the large, ornate houses built in those years in favor of smaller, more-modern looking alternatives, and prefer walkable areas to living miles from retail,” the WSJ noted.

Areas with large retiree populations are feeling the pinch quite acutely, with the WSJ pointing to North Carolina’s Buncombe County; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Kiawah Island in South Carolina as examples of markets glutted with high-end homes that aren’t moving.

But things aren’t likely to turnaround any time soon.

The WSJ said the problem is expected to worsen in the 2020s as more Baby Boomers reach their 70s and 80s, an age where people typically exit homeownership.

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TD Bank prescribes mortgages to debt-burdened medical students

With a launch of a Medical Professional Mortgage Product, TD Bank is leveraging an event to attract new business and to residence what it says is a believe opening among this organisation of professionals.

Less than one in 5 medical students are wakeful of debt offerings for their field, and scarcely a entertain of those that are in use explain tyro debt done shopping a residence some-more challenging, according to TD Bank.

The bank’s new product, accessible to physicians, dentists, fellows and third-year students, offers a ability to secure 100% financing with a limit loan volume of $750,000 and does not need private debt insurance. Applicants wanting to steal adult to $1.25 million will usually make a 5% down payment.

TD Bank’s Medical Professional Mortgage Product is accessible in both fixed- and adjustable-rate options. Flexible debt-to income ratios are also accepted, depending on income, according to a bank.

The product “alleviates some of a biggest hurdles those in a medical margin face following graduation and residency, such as vast amounts of debt and a miss of earning history,” pronounced Rick Bechtel, TD Bank’s conduct of residential lending, in a press release.

Student debt altogether has been loitering millennial homeownership by about a decade, according to a National Association of Realtors and American Student Assistance.
The pierce by TD Bank to daub a medical marketplace highlights a trend of debt institutions formulating specialized programs for veteran groups like doctors, village workers and law enforcement.

Similarly, TransPecos Banks in Pecos, Texas, built specialty product BankMD, a digital height for physicians. While it is not itself a debt product, it speaks to a trend that institutions find to yield value to sold niche audiences, and joins TD Bank in targeting medical professionals.

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Rhode Island housing marketplace cools in February

Rhode Island’s housing marketplace cooled a bit in February, as a median sales cost sojourn unvaried from a same month a year ago, though a series of sales fell, and houses lingered on a marketplace a week longer before selling.

The median sales cost of a single-family residence this Feb and final was $250,000, according to numbers from a Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

Adobe Stock

The sum series sole was 534, down 7.8 percent from Feb of final year.

The normal series of days a residence was on a marketplace this Feb was 72, adult 10.8% from final February’s 65.

While fewer houses were being sold, some-more were being offering for sale, with 2,769 listed in Feb of this year, a 5.9% boost from final year.

Multi-unit houses saw a diminution of reduction than 1% in a series sold, while a median sales cost rose 11.6%. The cost rose from $228,500 to $255,000, while a series sole forsaken from 117 to 116.

Condominiums saw a opposite: cost forsaken 1.5%, from $210,750 to $207,500, while a series sole rose 11.6%, from 112 to 125.

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Lennar buys Peñasquitos skill to build homes for entry-level buyers

Lennar, a region’s largest home builder has acquired a outrageous block of land alongside Interstate 15 in a San Diego village of Rancho Peñasquitos and is scheming to build 324 single- and multi-family homes for middle-class families.

Lennar Homes of California bought a 29.93-acre parcel during 10955 Carmel Mountain Rd. from Atlantic Pacific Companies in early Feb for $52.14 million, according to information supposing by a county assessor’s office. The transaction was disclosed by a buyer’s representative, Cushman Wakefield, on Mar 21.

After a four-year desert process, Lennar is looking brazen to formulating some-more homes in a executive partial of San Diego, pronounced Kevin Nolen, a executive with Cushman Wakefield.

Through Nov. 30, 2012, Lennar reported net gain of $124.3 million, or $0.56 per diluted share, compared to $30.3 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, a year ago. Image: ThinkStock

Through Nov. 30, 2012, Lennar reported net gain of $124.3 million, or $0.56 per diluted share, compared to $30.3 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, a year ago. Image: ThinkStock

The new homes, some of that will be finished by a finish of 2020, are pronounced to be designed for entry-level buyers, nonetheless prices are not being disclosed. The for-sale residences will operation in distance from 1,324 block feet to 2,034 block feet, and will have dual to 4 bedrooms. There will be 99 single-family homes, 105 triplex homes and 120 townhouses.

“This new village will concede residents to possess homes in a village they serve, while also charity debt and lending options with a far-reaching accumulation of programs for first-time homebuyers,” Nolen said.

Lennar’s Peñasquitos skill accounts for around three-quarters of a bigger, 41.5-acre workforce housing growth famous as Pacific Village, that was authorized by San Diego’s City Council one year ago. Lennar and Atlantic Pacific were partners on a project, nonetheless a latter owned all of a land until final month.

In total, a Pacific Village growth calls for 601 residences widespread opposite a southern parcel now owned by Lennar, and a smaller, northern parcel still owned by Atlantic Pacific.

Lennar is doing all of Pacific Village’s infrastructure needs, nonetheless Atlantic Pacific, that specializes in rentals, will build a 277 apartments on a 11-acre site.

Pacific Village replaces a now-demolished, 332-unit Penasquitos Village unit formidable during a northwest dilemma of a 56 Freeway and Interstate 15.

The prior formidable was home to roughly 200 Section 8 recipients. The developers’ compact with a city compulsory that they yield relocation assistance to, and cover relocating losses for, a residents who were receiving sovereign let assistance.

The genuine estate firms also committed to providing 115 subsidized, low-rent units. Sixty of a apartments during Pacific Village will be subsidized for low-income households. The other 55 subsidized apartments will be offsite during other projects owned by a developers.

The plan did not creatively embody subsidized housing, though orderly labor advocates successfully lobbied for several concessions that were usually finalized in a days before Pacific Village went before a City Council in Mar of 2018.

In addition, Lennar and Atlantic Pacific will make $10 million value of village and infrastructure improvements. The enhancements embody updated sidewalks and landscaping, and a sound wall along Interstate 15. There will also be a new bike line along Carmel Mountain Road and new trade signals along Carmel Mountain Drive.


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Zillow pilots app for self-guided house tours

Zillow is testing a mobile app that enables users to tour a house for sale without the need for agent or an appointment. The app puts the control in the hands of the potential home buyer and it’s part of Zillow’s continued effort to make headway in the iBuying space.

The iBuyer category is rapidly expanding as a number of real estate companies – like Redfin, Opendoor and Offerpad – develop new ways to eliminate the red tape that can make selling your home a long and frustrating process.

Zillow’s new app is designed to do just that. The app, called Tour it Now, provides users directions to the property, unlocks the doors when they arrive, and allows them the opportunity to tour the house on their own time.

zillowZillow rolled out the program March 5 in the Phoenix area and is currently only offering tours of properties that it owns.

Users can tour the homes any time between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. The company said the properties are equipped with sensors that take pictures and detect movement, and if motion is detected when there shouldn’t be any, the tour is disabled and the property is flagged for inspection by a Zillow team member.

Right now, the app only features a handful of homes in the Phoenix area, but a Zillow spokesperson said the company looks forward to making it available to more consumers in more markets in the future.

“By enabling home shoppers to visit and tour a Zillow-owned home whenever they want, with no appointment needed, Tour It Now is another step in Zillow’s mission to make the home shopping experience as convenient as possible,” the spokesperson said.

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Latest FHA shift to mitigate risks may shut out some homebuyers

Last week, the Federal Housing Administration took steps to mitigate risks to its single-family portfolio, announcing updates to its TOTAL Mortgage Scorecard that may flag some loans for manual underwriting.

The change applies to all loans with case numbers assigned on or after March 18th, meaning that it is likely to affect some of the loans currently sitting in an FHA lender’s pipeline.

Chatter among members of the lending community suggests a number of originators are unhappy about the changes, fearing that the end result may be that some of their borrowers will be shut out of FHA financing.

Some said the FHA did not go about implementing the changes the right way, creating confusion about how the risk is being mitigated, while others said they felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under them, and fear that borrowers who no longer qualify will be angry, according to email exchanges between lenders and mortgage brokers, shared with HousingWire.

For its part, the FHA said it is taking necessary steps to address some of the risk trends apparent in its single-family portfolio and flagged as concerning in its 2018 Report to Congress.

Specifically, FHA loans have seen a substantial increase in cash-out refinances, a drop in the average borrower credit score, and an increase in borrowers with high debt-to-income ratios.

In its letter about the Scorecard updates, the FHA said that the number of FHA refinances that are cash-outs increased 60% in 2018, and that almost a quarter of all FHA loans in 2018 had a DTI ratio above 50%.

The average credit scores for FHA borrowers has also declined, falling to 670 in 2018 – the lowest average since 2008.

Combined, these factors are signaling untenable risk for the agency as they flag the potential for the program to drain the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund.

“Federal Housing Commissioner Montgomery has publicly stated numerous times in recent months that FHA must seek the right balance between managing risk and fulfilling its mission of supporting sustainable homeownership,” the FHA said in its letter.

“To be successful long term, FHA must maintain the integrity of its insurance endorsements,” it continued. “This includes assessing the causes of the increase in higher-risk credit characteristics in the portfolio and making prudent and necessary changes to recalibrate and adjust its policies as warranted to manage credit risk.”

The agency said the updates to its Scorecard are just the first step it will be taking to address these risk factors.

“FHA will carefully monitor the impact of this change and is preparing to implement additional changes to maintain a better balance of managing risk and fulfilling its mission,” the agency stated.

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