Record number of renters believe renting is more affordable than owning

Record number of renters believe renting is more affordable than owning
A recent report from CoreLogic showed that home prices increased 4% year over year in December, and projected the U.S. price index will rise by 5.2% by December 2020.

As home prices continue to rise nationally, it’s little wonder that Freddie Mac’s latest “Profile of Today’s Renter and Owner” found that the majority of current renters believe renting is more affordable than owning.

However, the percentage of renters who hold that belief has increased dramatically in the past year.

A whopping 84% of renters said they believe renting is more affordable than owning – an all-time high for the survey. For comparison, this number is up 17 percentage points from February 2018.

The survey also found that affordability issues affect the average renter more than a homeowner. Freddie Mac said there are 42% of renters who paid more than a third of their household income on rent.

This is compared to only 24% of homeowners who spend that amount on mortgage payments.

But there is good news for renters looking to own. Given current low interest rates, 40% of renters said they plan to purchase a home.

“The housing market is strong and, based on our survey, the low mortgage rate environment may inspire both renters and owners to make an educated move this spring,” said David Brickman, Freddie Mac CEO. “While Baby Boomers tend to be satisfied with their current housing situation, younger generations are still struggling to determine whether to rent or purchase a home, largely due to lack of supply and affordability constraints.”

And that lack of supply stretches beyond single-family housing. Last year saw record-high occupancy rates in multifamily housing with a shortage of supply. Naturally, this drove rent growth. Many of the renters surveyed by Freddie Mac voiced their worry in this area.

Almost 70% of renters said they are growing more concerned about their rent going up in the next 12 months, while 68% are concerned about not being able to afford their larger expenses. Even so, according to the majority surveyed, renting is still the more affordable option.
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Mortgage rates as we know them may hang on a single Republican vote

Mortgage rates as we know them may hang on a single Republican vote
The Federal Reserve‘s independence in setting U.S. monetary policy, which impacts the mortgage rates Americans pay, may hang on a single Republican vote.

The Senate Banking Committee Thursday interviewed Christopher Waller, director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Judy Shelton, a former economic adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign, to fill the two seats on the Federal Reserve Board that have been vacant for over a year.

While Waller is non-controversial, Shelton is not. Whether she gets a seat among the group of people who set U.S. monetary policy – influencing mortgage rates – depends on Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee. If there’s one “no” vote, she won’t be confirmed.

Following Thursday’s hearing, three Republican senators – Richard Shelby (R-AL), Patrick Toomey (R-PA) and John Kennedy (R-LA) – said they remained undecided.

Shelton has achieved a rare feat in Washington: She’s brought conservatives and liberals together.

As one example, Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor at the conservative magazine National Review and a fellow at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, has written several articles urging senators to vote against her.

“Shelton’s prescription for monetary policy has changed so dramatically, and her rationale for it makes so little sense, as to make her appointment to the Fed a gamble,” Ponnuru said in Bloomberg Opinion piece. “Does she believe what she is now saying, or is she just saying what Trump wants to hear?”

Ponnuru is referring to Shelton’s flip-flop from a monetary hawk to a dove. She roundly criticized the Fed for keeping rates near zero during the Obama administration, as the economy struggled to recover from the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression, yet became a booster of low rates when Trump called for deep cuts in 2019.

Shelton has written dozens of books and articles over three decades advocating controversial positions such as a return to the gold standard, a monetary policy abandoned by the U.S. almost five decades ago.

After Trump nominated her in in July, Shelton advocated for policy coordination between the Fed and the White House, which would break a decades-long tradition of Fed independence.

“It would be in keeping with its historical mandate if the Fed were to pursue a more coordinated relationship with both Congress and the president,” she wrote in a Wall Street Journal column on Sept. 16. “When it comes to fulfilling the economic goals authorized by legislative decree, it isn’t seemly for a government agency to be selective.”

Here’s why it matters: an independent central bank is critical to a stable monetary system. If central bankers can be influenced to help the re-election prospects of a U.S. president by loosening monetary policy, it heightens the danger of inflation – which would push up mortgage rates.

Remember mortgage rates topping 18%? It happened the last time a president strong-armed the Fed. Interest rates first broke into double-digits in 1978 and peaked in 1980 at 18.6%, as measured by Freddie Mac.

That 1970s inflationary cycle was sparked by President Richard Nixon successfully pressuring Fed Chairman Arthur Burns to provide him with expansive monetary policy for political purposes.

Nixon won re-election in a landslide. And Americans got stuck with the bill, paying sky-high prices and mortgage rates in an inflationary cycle that lasted for years after Nixon resigned to avoid being impeached.

While Shelton would be just one vote on the Fed board, she would become more influential if she sat at the chair at the end of the table.

Right now, Jerome Powell is Fed chairman until February of 2022. But, Trump made clear last year he believes he has the right to fire Powell.

“I have the right to demote him, and I have the right to fire him,” Trump said in an interview with Reuters in June, among examples.

Can Trump really fire Powell? The short answer is “probably.” The 1913 law establishing the central bank allows the chairman to be fired “for cause,” meaning Trump would have to claim Powell is doing a bad job.

Trump has already done that on Twitter, calling Powell and other board members “boneheads,” “losers,” “naïve,” and an “enemy” of the U.S. with “No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision!’”

What’s clear is: The law doesn’t say anything that would prevent Trump from demoting Powell and letting him serve the remainder of his term as a less-powerful board member.

Or, Trump could follow a more traditional route – though he’s not typically known for that – and wait to be re-elected before nominating Shelton to succeed Powell in 2022.

Whether at the head of the Fed, or simply as a board member, Shelton seems ready to do Trump’s bidding, unlike Powell and other members of the Fed board.

During Thursday’s hearing, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the senior Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, read sections of articles by Ponnuru, the conservative writer, and Desmond Lachman, another conservative at AEI, in a bid to win over the one Republican vote needed to nix Shelton’s nomination.

“Trump might find in Shelton a useful and pliable Fed governor who will do his low-interest-rate bidding in the run-up to the 2020 election,” Lachman wrote in The Hill. “But it would seem to be highly questionable whether Shelton is qualified to serve effectively and independently on the Federal Reserve’s Board.”
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Mortgage Tech Rundown: Calyx, Roostify, and Quicken Loans

Mortgage Tech Rundown: Calyx, Roostify, and Quicken Loans
Calyx, a provider of comprehensive mortgage software solutions for banks, credit unions, mortgage bankers, wholesale and correspondent lenders, announced it has enhanced Zip, the company’s point-of-sale platform.

Zip is a loan interview platform that allows borrowers to monitor application progression online or via any mobile device. In a press release, the company said the new enhancements include a borrower dashboard, as well as a document upload feature.

Additionally, the platform will now include borrower questions to support HELOC origination, as well as refinance and home equity options for second homes and investor properties.

“The latest enhancements to Zip allow loan originators to provide a borrower experience that is transparent, engaging and convenient,” said Sung Park, senior vice president of development at Calyx. “In addition, the enhancements also enable banks and credit unions to add proven, easy-to-use technology to their home equity and investor lending programs.”

Digital lending platform Roostify announced an expanded relationship with Optimal Blue, a provider of secondary marketing automation to the mortgage industry.

According to the company, the partnership aims to enable Roostify to further automate the digital lending experience for its clients by embedding Optimal Blue’s pricing capabilities directly into its platform.

The integration will also provide loan officers access to product and pricing information, allowing them to seamlessly share data with borrowers through a fully mobile-optimized solution, the company said.

“Optimal Blue is committed to working with technology-forward partners that truly understand the incredible value of delivering accurate product and pricing to all relevant access points within the loan lifecycle,” said Bob Brandt, vice president of marketing and strategic alliances at Optimal Blue. “We are pleased to expand our relationship with Roostify as they leverage our robust APIs to improve the digital mortgage experience for lenders and their clients.”

Quicken Loans has extended its contract with Black Knight to continue using the company’s MSP servicing system. The company also said it has plans to add more Black Knight solutions to its roster.

Beyond this, the partnership between the companies is expanding as Black Knight has purchased Quicken Loans “Cyclops” mortgage servicing customer relationship management software.

“The Cyclops software provides a number of tools Quicken Loans uses to meet the needs of today’s mortgage consumers,” Black Knight said in a statement. “This software suite will serve as the foundation for a highly advanced customer service solution that Black Knight will be offering to clients of its industry-leading MSP servicing system.”

Once integrated into Black Knight’s offerings, the “Cyclops” software allows Black Knight to provide “highly personalized information about loans, homes and neighborhoods.”

According to the companies, the new software will provide consumers with a tailored experience, therefore enhancing the overall lending process.
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The star power at our first-ever engage.talent summit was off the charts

The star power at our first-ever engage.talent summit was off the charts
HousingWire’s inaugural engage.talent event in Dallas last week gathered experts from across the country to share tactical insights on recruiting and hiring in the mortgage space.

The packed agenda featured 27 speakers representing a diverse group of lenders and servicers covering today’s most important talent topics.

The star power of the speakers is hard to overstate.

One of the highlights of the day was the panel on Recruiting and Retaining Top Originators, which featured some of the most successful originators in the country: Shant Banosian of Guaranteed Rate, Sean Johnson of loanDepot, and Jen Micklos of Movement Mortgage.

The session, moderated by Joel Epstein, host of the The bigJoel Show podcast, focused on what initially attracted them to their respective companies — where they each have long tenure — and what keeps them there.

The top producers related stories of what they appreciate about recruiters, and what kinds of approaches aren’t successful. All three related how they were cold-called several times every day by recruiters who hadn’t taken the time to know anything about them.

Banosian, for example, who closed 1,906 units and funded $914 million in 2019, regularly gets approached by recruiters promising to “double his income.”

“I ask them, ‘How are you going to do that?’” he laughed.


The importance of understanding what’s important to candidates, making a personal connection and relationship-building were consistent themes throughout the day.

In a session on how company culture can impact recruiting and retention, the speakers — Haley Parker, area business development manager at Fairway Independent Mortgage, Arthur Matuszewski, vice president of talent at, and James Hecht, executive vice president, head of retail at Caliber Home Loans — explained which parts of their companies’ culture was most attractive to potential hires, and what perks made the most difference in keeping employees happy long-term.

For each company, providing cutting-edge technologies that support work-life balance was a key factor, even above salary and compensation.

Building bench strength was another theme of the event, as experts explained how to plan for long-term growth by building paths for leadership. A.R. Smith, cofounder and managing director of Adams and Smith Elite Consulting, outlined a strategy for identifying potential leaders early in their career and nurturing them so that you retain that hard-won experience.

The keynote address, delivered by Amy Volas, the founder and CEO of Avenue Talent Partners and Sales Hacker’s Most Dynamic Woman in Sales in 2019, stressed that while most companies focus their time, money and effort on the front end of recruiting, it’s retention that affects a company’s bottom line. Especially amid record-low unemployment, companies need to crack the code of what makes employees stay.  

“When you look at sales churn, you have to wonder why we work so hard to hire them but we’re OK with losing them,” Volas said. “It can kill your business.”

Low unemployment exacerbates one of the biggest challenges for mortgage companies looking to hire digital talent — how to successfully compete against giant brands like Apple, Google, and Facebook, especially in tech hubs like the Bay area, Denver and Austin.

Talent leaders Matt Turner, executive talent acquisition specialist at United Wholesale Mortgage, Ashley Burnstad, head of people at Roostify, and Randy Wheeler, managing director of talent acquisition at Charles Schwab shared insights into what works — and what doesn’t — when you’re competing against some of the best-known tech companies in the world. A streamlined hiring process is key for digital talent, who are usually juggling multiple options, and same-day offers are ideal.

A lively session on What Lenders Need Recruiters to Understand gave attendees the opportunity to hear directly from top mortgage leaders, who gave honest feedback on successful lender-recruiter communications. The session featured John Palmiotto, chief retail production officer at Guaranteed Rate, Steve Barker, market leader at Movement Mortgage, and Brian Covey, vice president of regional production at loanDepot.

The content-rich event also tackled issues such as, attracting top operations and fulfillment talent, hiring Millennials and how to structure LO Comp.

Marcus Cole, director of the Future Housing Leaders program at Fannie Mae, gave attendees actionable information about creating a path for a more diverse workforce, and Kristina Pool, partner and COO of The Middleton Advisory Group, discussed what it takes to retain women in top leadership.  

In the session on the Battle for Talent, Anthony Casa, chairman of AIME, Phil Treadwell, vice president of development and regional manager with Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, and Tom Middleton, managing partner at The Middleton Advisory Group, discussed their approach to recruiting and shared stories on how they landed especially important candidates.

During networking breaks throughout the day, as well during lunch and the cocktail hour, attendees were able to connect with peers and get face time with powerhouse speakers.

The combination of content and connection made HousingWire’s inaugural engage.talent summit an overwhelming success, and a can’t-miss event for the future.

If you missed out on the event live, HW+ members will get access to full session videos coming soon to our virtual summit! Sign up here.
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Opendoor and Redfin expand homebuying partnership to nine new cities

Opendoor and Redfin expand homebuying partnership to nine new cities
Opendoor and Redfin have been working together to buy houses directly from homeowners in Phoenix and Atlanta since last July, and now the companies are ready to expand into new cities.

The companies announced this week that they are expanding their homebuying partnership into Charlotte, North Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tennessee; Orlando, Florida; Portland, Oregon; Raleigh, North Caroline; Tampa, Florida; and Tucson, Arizona.

These additions are joining Phoenix and Atlanta, where the expansion was first launched.

According to the companies, homeowners in the nine new cities will be able to request an instant offer from Opendoor as part of their home sale inquiry on Redfin.

From there, a Redfin agent will meet with the seller, advising them on the home selling process, what their home is likely worth on the open market, and will present them with Opendoor’s offer.

At that point, they can either choose to sell directly to Opendoor, or they can list their home with Redfin for a 1.5% listing fee.

The homeowner can also choose not to meet with a Redfin agent and take their Opendoor offer directly through the site. But either way, Redfin will receive a referral fee for each customer who decides to sell to Opendoor.

Redfin is also publishing Opendoor’s listings (the homes the company has bought and is reselling) on its website.

“We remain committed to working with Redfin to create a seamless, hassle-free selling experience for homeowners, and, with our growing partnership, we’re helping people unlock the freedom to move on their terms,” Opendoor said on its website.
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ALTA releases data privacy principles

ALTA releases data privacy principles
The American Land Title Association’s (ALTA) newly released data privacy principles recommend the development of a single, national standard. Read on for more details about the association’s data privacy principles.

Black Knight, Quicken extend contract

Black Knight, Quicken extend contract
Quicken Loans has extended its contract for Black Knight, Inc.’s MSP servicing system and is adding multiple Black Knight solutions. Read on for more details.