HousingWire is growing. Come join us

HousingWire is growing. Come join us
2019 has been a year of tremendous audience and product growth for HousingWire and we couldn’t be prouder. 

We launched the Housing News podcast, our OpenHouse newsletter for real estate agents, and the all-new www.housingwire.com, which is firing on all cylinders.We grew our audience by 70% to an expected 8 million readers, a truly record-breaking figure that we’re humbled by.We hired our first Real Estate editor, KK Howley, and significantly expanded our real estate coverage.We’ve added quite a few great team members in each department of our company.We’ve grown each of our newsletter subscriber lists.And we’ve continued to deliver news nowhere else to our loyal and growing audience.

But we’re not ready to rest on our laurels. Far from it. In fact, 2020 promises to be an even bigger year for HousingWire.

We’re planning to become the largest publisher of news and analysis for housing professionals across the real estate life cycle.To do that, we’re planning a significant expansion in our news department that will allow us to deliver even more of the news that we’ve always provided to you.We’re also planning to augment our already award-winning content with much more deep insights and analysis that provide the why behind our daily news coverage.We’re adding a second engage summit, engage.talent, focused on talent recruitment and retention.

To help us achieve our 2020 goals, we’re hiring! 

We’re looking for talented people to fill roles in our editorial, marketing, client success, and sales teams. If you’re interested in joining Team HousingWire, please review our job descriptions at www.housingwire.com/jobs. 
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Are iBuyers ripping off sellers?

Are iBuyers ripping off sellers?
Selling to an iBuyer means homeowners can forego the uncertainties of listing a property and never have to worry about prepping for an open house.

But are they leaving money on the table? Mike DelPrete, a real estate tech advisor and strategist known as the “iBuyer whisperer” because of his focus on the sector, says they are. But, not much.

The average “discount to market value,” meaning the difference between what an iBuyer pays and what the home could get on the open market, is 1.3%, DelPrete said in an interview on Friday with HousingWire.

That’s based on his analysis of more than 20,000 transactions made by Opendoor and Zillow, the two biggest iBuyers, in 2018 and 2019. Together, the two companies accounted for 86% of iBuyer transactions, meaning a property that was purchased and resold, during the period.

“A lot of people think they’re going to get ripped off by these big iBuyers, but the data shows they’re not,” DelPrete said.

On a $300,000 home sale, that’s a discount of $3,900. DelPrete said some sellers would find that a good trade-off if it gets them to a transaction without open houses and uncertainty.

“That’s the choice for consumers: are you willing to trade a little bit of money for certainty,” DelPrete said. “It’s going to be a difference of several thousand dollars, but it’s not going to be $20,000 or $30,000.”

While sellers don’t have to prep for an open house, they’re still going to get charged for some repairs, DelPrete said.

“If there’s a hole in your roof, you’re still going to be paying for that, in the form of a reduction in the offer an iBuyer will make,” DelPrete said, “but you were going to have to pay for that, anyway, by getting it fixed before listing a home the traditional way.”

Another consideration is fees, DelPrete said. Homeowners who sell to an iBuyer typically will pay a fee that might be a percentage point higher than using a real estate agent, he said.

A traditional real estate agent might charge a commission equal to 5% or 6% of the home’s selling price, depending on what’s negotiated in the listing contract.

The fee iBuyers typically charge is equal to about 7% of the negotiated price, DelPrete said.

“When you take everything into consideration, the difference between an iBuyer and traditional sales is probably going to be a couple of percentage points,” DelPrete said. “Can you get that money on the open market? Maybe. Will it take you three months to sell? Maybe.”
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The growth of the mortgage broker channel gives real estate agents new options for homebuyers

The growth of the mortgage broker channel gives real estate agents new options for homebuyers
The mortgage broker channel has seen a great deal of growth over the last year, with independent mortgage brokers now accounting for more than 16% market share. This momentum – which doesn’t show signs of stopping anytime soon – presents a great opportunity for real estate professionals to join forces with independent mortgage brokers to ensure your homebuyers are getting the best experience possible.

As the mortgage broker network grows, there are more options for you to choose from when looking for a partner. One of the perks of partnering with an independent mortgage broker is that you’re able to work with someone local, embedded in your buyer’s community of choice. Rather than working with a big bank who may only see your buyer as a number, a local, independent mortgage broker can provide personalized, face-to-face mortgage expertise.

And because independent mortgage brokers work with a wide variety of lenders, they are experts at matching your clients with the right loan products. Mortgage brokers are skilled at helping self-employed borrowers and those with second jobs in the gig economy, as well as first time homebuyers or those with less than stellar credit histories. Finding the right loan match can transform a renter into a buyer, and nets you a grateful client ready to refer more business.

In addition, independent mortgage brokers are agile and willing to work with you and your buyers to meet your timelines. Unlike some traditional lenders who keep bankers’ hours or work through a call center, mortgage brokers place a premium on being available when you need them. That means that your clients don’t waste time waiting for approvals — and potentially lose out on their dream home.

There are many reasons to work with an independent mortgage broker, and now it’s easier than ever to connect with one in your area. Visit FindAMortgageBroker.com to learn more about the advantages of working with a mortgage broker and how you can partner with one today.
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Home-flipping startup Curbio expands to Boston

Home-flipping startup Curbio expands to Boston
Tech-enabled renovation company Curbio has been busy this year.

The company announced this week it is expanding to Boston, adding to its already lengthy list of metros it serves.

In October, the company promised it would expand into Boston as well as Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Charlotte within the following months.

Curbio already serves Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Northern Virginia, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix and the Florida metro areas of Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

The company refers to itself as a renovation partner in the remodeling mix. By using software to essentially flip a house, Curbio ensures the renovation process is quick and cost-effective. Clients don’t have to pay the service until the sale on their house closes.

Curbio provides project management, material selection and renovation choices designed to maximize profits for the seller. The company also keeps homeowners informed throughout the process with updates, photos and videos.

Curbio claims they can help customers complete housing projects 60% faster.

Earlier this year, Curbio raised $7 million in funding and partnered with Door.com, both to fuel its expansion. Door.com is similar to Curbio in the sense that customers have 24/7 access to their online portal to view listing performance, buyer feedback, their agent’s analysis and offer details on the website.
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Hey housing professionals, your jargon isn't helping consumers

Hey housing professionals, your jargon isn't helping consumers
“Guess what, consumers! Conforming loan limits were just raised! Awesome, right!? Call me!” 

“Woo hoo! FHA just increased loan limits! Give me a call today!”

“Fannie and Freddie just did…”

“FHFA just announced…”

Rates! Bond charts! Comps! CMAs! 15-year fixed! Jumbo! Blah blah blah.

How many of these posts do we see on social media from our fellow agents and lenders every day? Like, a bazillion! Probably more like six bazillion, if we’re being accurate. Certainly every time a loan limit is increased or interest rates make a big move.

Dustin Brohm, HousingWire Columnist

It’s not necessarily the topic that is the issue, it’s the delivery of the topic that’s the problem.

Do you know what was missing from 5.999 bazillion of those posts? An explanation of what in the world a conforming loan even is! An explanation of how a major move in rates actually affects consumers’ purchasing power. Nothing tangible, just generic, unhelpful nonsense. 

I can count on one hand how many times I saw a lender saying something tangible and actually helpful. Something like “this interest rate bump means the monthly payment on a $300,000 loan went up x-amount.” 

Nope. Instead, just the same old crap that consumers “love” like, “Rates are going up! Better buy now! It’s never been a better time than right now!” 

If you can’t educate consumers, you can’t help consumers. And if you can’t help them, then what the hell do they need us for? 

After all, there’s an app for that now, isn’t there?

Do we realize who we’re actually talking to? You know, those people who aren’t in the real estate or mortgage industry. As in, the exact people we want to hire us. The people we spend ungodly amounts of money on each month just to get a chance to talk to. 

Then we get our chance, and we pepper them with meaningless industry jargon! Smooth move, bro. Maybe the next $300 Zillow lead will be “the one.”

It’s truly stunning how little thought agents and loan officers put into crafting the messages they’re putting out there. They just copy a HousingWire headline, which is full of industry jargon (you know, because it’s written for the industry) and then turn around and use that exact terminology to tell consumers about it. 

This topic has been a bug up my butt for years. It always makes me cringe when I see consumers talked over and confused rather than being educated or informed.

These last couple weeks especially, I’ve really been screaming about this on my podcast, my Alexa flash briefing, on social media, and anywhere else I can get agents and lenders to hear me. We’re only causing more confusion and noise, and adding to the perception that Realtors and lenders aren’t approachable or relatable. I yearn for the day that we stop proving that to be true.  

So why do so many Realtors and loan officers talk over the heads of consumers, with no explanation or education included in the message? Is it arrogance? Is it laziness? Is it a simple lack of thinking through who we’re talking to and the language they actually speak? Unfortunately, I think it’s a combination of it all.

Do we realize that most agents, let alone consumers, don’t know what a conforming loan is? Many consumers don’t really know what an FHA loan is or what “comps” are.

Sure, they may have heard the terms before, but that’s it. They don’t understand the nuances of an FHA loan versus Conventional. A staggering number of consumers still believe that you must have 20% down to buy a home! 

Again, they are not industry insiders. You are. 

Don’t ever assume that consumers know what industry-specific terms mean or what the differences between loan programs are. Not everyone knows what an FHA loan is, or how it differs from Conventional or VA financing, and what that means to them. Don’t ever assume that an increase in loan limits means anything to anyone. Because it doesn’t. Again, most agents don’t even know themselves.

We have to explain these concepts. We have to educate and advise; teach and simplify. But more than just explaining, defining, and pontificating, we have to relate this stuff to the consumer.

What does an increase in conforming loan limits mean for them? How does that affect their ability to buy a home? Explain to your sellers that loan limit increases are good because the pool of potential buyers for their home just got bigger. 

Don’t just tell consumers that interest rates went up or down. Show them how that affects their purchasing power. Does the change in rates mean the difference between a budget of $300,000 versus $330,000? Tell them that!

If rates are going up, don’t just give consumers that tired old line of “Now is the best time to buy or refinance because rates may go up even more!” Show them how it’s not the end of the world. Have them Google “Jimmy Carter mortgage rates” and magically, 10 seconds later, the jump in rates doesn’t seem as big of a deal anymore. 

Be a guide, a reliable, trusted resource to help consumers cut through the noise from all of our competitors who do nothing more than litter the internet with meaningless industry jargon. Anticipate the questions they may have and answer them up front. Many times they don’t even know what questions to ask. (Remember: They’re not actually agents or lenders!) 

In this age of (too much) information, consumers are completely overwhelmed. They’re begging for clarity. They’re craving it. 

If we don’t get their attention and gain their trust by being truly helpful, then some app will. Some Silicon Valley company with $1+ billion in funding and a huge marketing budget will come in and set the narrative.

None of us stand a chance against that if all we’re doing is confusing consumers and driving them into the hands of that fancy new app.
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Sweepstakes winners revealed

Sweepstakes winners revealed
After a strong response to the October Research 20th Anniversary Sweepstakes, we now reveal the winners, including the winner of our complimentary registration to the 2020 National Settlement Services Summit. Read on for more.
Source: thetitlereport.com

When it comes to their home, Millennials are picky

When it comes to their home, Millennials are picky
For the generation that is waiting the longest to buy a home, they appear to be the pickiest too.

According to a new data set from the National Association of Home Builders, Millennials care just as much (if not more) about they want in a house rather than what they need.

And even though Millennials carry loads of student debt, they still want to live out the American Dream in a home, whether it’s rented or not.

The NAHB asked recent and prospective homebuyers about the features they want in a home and a community. Homebuyers were asked to rank more than 175 features in a home on a four-tiered scale of do not want, indifferent, desirable, and essential/must have.

The most popular specialty room, other than a bedroom, bathroom or kitchen, is the laundry room, with 50% saying it’s an essential while 36% said it’s more desirable.

On the bottom of the necessity list is breakfast nook and sunroom. Of those surveyed, 19% said both were an essential and 39% it’s just a desirable.

Having multiple family rooms was also at lower end of the list of desirables, with 24% saying a separate living room was an essential and 37% saying it was a desirable; 23% said a separate family room was an essential and 39% said it was a desirable, and 22% said a study/den/library was an essential and 41% said it was desirable.

Across generations, Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers and Seniors all agreed that an exercise room, media room and game room were a desirable.
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Expert: Here are 5 tech trends to watch in housing in 2020

Expert: Here are 5 tech trends to watch in housing in 2020
As we move toward the new year, many experts and economists are forecasting the housing market will continue to see growth. Now, one expert looks at the technology advancements we will see in 2020.

HousingWire sat down with Steve Butler, AI Foundry president and founder, who gave five trends to watch for artificial intelligence in 2020.

Recently, HousingWire sat down with Butler to talk about AI, where he predicted that within just two years, the majority of mortgage originations won’t need a human to touch them.

Now, Butler is expanding on his thoughts for AI with five predictions for 2020:

1. AI enables “Minimal human hands” on loans

Due to advancements in AI and machine learning, within the next two years, we will see the majority of mortgage loans get manufactured and sold off to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with very little human involvement. It will be a much more automated, mechanized process, driven by AI. In a recent article in Forbes, Keith Polaski, Radius Financial Group co-founder and chief operating officer, said that his company’s goal is to deliver all of its loans without a human touch to secondary mortgage market buyers like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

2. AI becomes vertical-specific

We will see the adoption of vertical-specific intelligent robots that have the level of industry expertise required for mortgage processing. These intelligent robots will play a key role in the process. More companies will turn to mortgage-specific robots with embedded industry knowledge. According to an Inc. Magazine story, five billion-dollar industries that will be impacted by AI include: real estate, automotive, education, customer service and IoT.

3. AI drives digital transformation to new levels

The mortgage process is very paper-based and analog. However, robots need digital data – solutions that can turn analog processes into digital ones will help the mortgage industry make new advances in digital transformation, replacing many of the old analog processes that have been used for decades (e.g. thousands of paper documents, verbal conversations to check and re-check information, emails and written communication throughout the loan process.)

4. AI skills elevate executive careers

An increasing number of mortgage executives will reach proficient level on AI as they embrace learning and using AI technologies. These new AI-savvy executives will enhance their careers, separate from their peers, and create opportunities to improve their business. For example, Polaski stated in this Forbes story that by using AI, his company has reduced their loan manufacturing cost by 70%.

5. AI creates “virtual assembly lines” 

The mortgage office will change and begin to look more and more like a series of connected robots accomplishing discrete functions on the loan lifecycle. A “loan assembly line” will begin to take shape.
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Mortgage Tech Rundown: Openly, roOomy, and Wolters Kluwer

Mortgage Tech Rundown: Openly, roOomy, and Wolters Kluwer
Mortgage Tech Rundown looks at the latest news in mortgage technology, featuring new product updates, integrations and announcements.

Tech-enabled home insurance provider Openly launched on Tuesday, equipped with $7.6 million from its seed round of funding. The company said in a press release it aims to simplify the home insurance buying process by empowering home insurance agents.

In order to do so, Openly plans to sell its up-market home insurance exclusively through independent insurance agents, rather than using technology to completely remove them from the process.

“Our goal is to help agents as they work to modernize their businesses,” said Ty Harris, the CEO, and co-founder of Openly. “We let them offer their customers better, faster and more economical products with comprehensive insurance protection for a wide range of needs.”

roOomy, a technology company that offers virtual staging services and 3D modeling and rendering for interior design, announced a partnership with home furnishing company Havertys to enhance the home selling and buying process.

Through the partnership, Havertys has launched the Designer Application, which is a custom interior design tool that enables its design consultants to transform 2D images of their customers’ rooms to assist in creating photorealistic 3D renderings.

“Often, the problem with redesigning any room is visualization – it’s difficult to picture how the room might look like with new furnishings or to imagine how it will all fit together,” roOmy said in a press release. “But that’s a thing of the past – with Havertys latest offering consumers will be able to visualize the entire room like never before.”

Wolters Kluwer, a Netherlands based information and financial services company, launched a new consumer lending offering that aims to enhance the online loan origination capabilities of U.S. community banks and credit unions.

The offering, Online Applications for Consumer Lending, is powered by Temenos Infinity, the digital front office product from banking software provider Temenos.

By integrating seamlessly with Wolters Kluwer’s ComplianceOne solution, the offering allows consumers to begin a loan application from any digital device, at any time.

“Until now, community banks and credit unions had few options available for providing online consumer loan applications, other than to build their own in-house functionality,” said Steven Meirink, the executive vice president of Wolters Kluwer Compliance Solutions. “Online Applications for Consumer Lending helps level the playing field with larger institutions and internet-only banks, delivering an appealing consumer design and high-tech experience without a heavy technology investment.”
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CoreLogic expects home prices to do this in the next 12 months

CoreLogic expects home prices to do this in the next 12 months
Nationally, home prices increased 3.5% year over year in October, according to CoreLogic‘s latest Home Price Index Report.

To be more specific, prices rose on lower-priced homes. A big trend seen in the 2019 housing market was tight inventory in both single-family and multifamily, creating an increase in prices.

The lowest priced home tier increased 5.5% year over year in October 2019, compared to 4.7% for the low- to middle-price tier, 4% for the middle- to moderate-price tier, and 3.1% for the high-price tier, according to CoreLogic.

(Image courtesy of CoreLogic. Click to enlarge.)

Going forward, CoreLogic expects home prices to increase 5.4% from October 2019 to October 2020.

Over the last six months, home prices have been increasing from between 3.2% to 3.5%, which means the rate of home price growth is leveling off.

In September this year, home prices rose 3.5% compared to September last year. At the time, CoreLogic predicted home prices will increase by 5.6%, come September 2020.

Idaho saw the largest and highest amount of price increase, with annual home price appreciation of 10.9% in October 2019.

Connecticut saw the lowest price appreciation increase, hovering just around zero. Connecticut home prices in October 2019 were also the farthest below their all-time HPI high, still 16.5% below the July 2006 peak.

(Image courtesy of CoreLogic. Click to enlarge.)

Overall, home prices in 41 states (including the District of Columbia) have risen above their nominal pre-crisis peaks, CoreLogic states.

While annual price increases slowed in 38 states compared to 2018, prices in Nevada increased by 3.2% year over year in October 2019, an 8.7-percentage-point tick down from the 11.9% annual increase in October 2018, signaling a slow down.
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