Housing Company Debuts ‘First-of-its-Kind’ College Town Rental Program

A company known for its chain of college town boutique hotels is adding a new wrinkle to temporary housing with an emphasis on travelers seeking accommodations for university events such as game days. Graduate Homes, which is being spun off from the successful Graduate Hotels, will offer “unprecedented hyperlocal experience, affordable concierge offerings and the chance to stay in the thick of it – and feel like a college kid again,” AJ Capital Partners associate Daniel Schor told MLive this week. AJ Capital, which manages both the hotel and property initiatives, is seeking “luxury residences” for Graduate Homes, ones that will “ideally be located within five miles of major university venues” and “be within walking distance to campus.” The initiative…

Zillow Borrows Nearly $500 Million to Bolster Home-Flipping Division

Real estate company Zillow recently took out nearly half a billion dollars in loans to bolster its home-flipping business. The corporation is widely known for its ubiquitous house listing services, but in 2018 it launched Zillow Offers, an initiative wherein it buys homes from sellers, invests in modest repairs, and then puts it back on the market. The $450 million mortgage bond deal “will enable Zillow to buy and sell more homes,” Bloomberg reported this week. The company “can recycle capital from the offering for up to two years as it buys and sells homes.” The company is competing against rival home-flipping competitors Opendoor Technologies and Offerpad.…

Rocket Executive Slams UMW for ‘Shocking’ Decision on Refinance Fees

An executive with Rocket is slamming the decision of United Wholesale Mortgage to forego a straight-up elimination of refinancing fees, calling it an act of “shocking dishonesty.” UMW has raised eyebrows for its refusal to wholly drop the adverse market refinancing fee from its operations after the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced an end to the fee; UMW CEO Mat Ishiba has said that consumers can forego the fee by “sort of a manual process.” Austin Niemiec, the executive vice president of Rocket, told Mortgage Professional America this week that Ishiba is engaged in “shocking dishonesty” in his approach to the refinancing fee. “We expected every single lender in America to [drop the fee], but to my knowledge UWM is…

UWM’s Complicated System for Refunding Adverse Market Fees Raises Questions

Mat Ishbia appears to be the odd man out when it comes to handling fees from customers the feds are no longer collecting. On July 16, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced it was ending the adverse market refinancing fee for loan deliveries effective August 1, 2021. The fee, designed to address risk from anticipated losses due to COVID-19, was always unpopular. Proposed by the Trump administration last summer, it was repeatedly delayed before going into effect in December. It was welcome news to the entire industry — data show a surge in mortgage applications in the week after the 50 basis point fee was lifted — but it may have been exceptionally good news for United Wholesale Mortgage…

Rocket Sees Big Gains as Parent Company Announces Foray Into Home Solar

Rocket Companies—the corporation whose mortgage division is the largest lender in the U.S.—saw a big jump in stocks on Monday after it announced a planned foray into the solar industry. The company said in a Monday press release that it was planning on “leveraging the same technology, data and client experience that has revolutionized the mortgage, real estate and personal lending spaces to help Americans make their home more energy efficient.” “Rocket Companies is uniquely positioned to build trust and education in solar energy, simplifying the entire process through our platform,” Rocket Vice Charmain and CEO Jay Farner said in the statement. “We have the technology and expertise to provide the best experience possible for homeowners who want to go…

Real Estate Company Aims to Make Homeownership ‘Fast, Transparent, and Low-Cost’

A new homeownership company is seeking to streamline the homebuying market to make the process less opaque and more accessible to buyers who feel intimidated by it. Better, based out of New York and recently expanded into Virginia, is “re-engineering the mortgage process” by helping homebuyers navigate shopping, and paying, for a home. The company touts itself as “redefining the homeownership process from the ground up” by using “technology to make it faster and more efficient, and humans to help make it friendly and enjoyable.” “We believe homeownership should be fast, transparent, and low-cost. For everyone,” the company states on its website. The company’s roots go back to 2014; originally serving the New York market, it now operates in Virginia,…

Housing Company Aims To Give Students ‘Truly Differentiated Living Experience’

A newly launched global housing company is hoping to give students a “truly differentiated” housing experience while they pursue their studies and colleges and universities. Yugo, which formed from the merger of several similar companies, is aiming to “enhance students’ overall experiences throughout and beyond university and college life” with housing that is “environmentally and socially conscious, emotionally supportive and safe,” the company said in a press release this week. The company’s “global portfolio” includes “95 properties (living spaces) in nine countries, with 45,000 beds in more than 75 of the top cities in the world for higher education,” the release said. The company’s housing process was not immediately clear from its press release or its website, though in the…

Major Rental Company Boosted Rents 8 Percent During Past Year’s White-Hot Market

A major nationwide rental company said it boosted rental rates by an average of about eight percent over the past year, reflecting the ongoing elevation of both rental and home prices throughout the country. Invitation Homes, which bills itself as facilitating “the worry-free leasing lifestyle,” said in a quarterly report this week that over the past year it had seen a “blended rent growth of 8.0%, up 470 basis points year over year.” The “blended” rate came from hikes of “new lease rent growth of 13.8%” as well as “renewal rent growth of 5.8%.” The company, which was founded nine years ago, said it saw revenue growth of nearly 10 percent year-over-year, with an average occupancy of nearly 100 percent,…

‘Rent-to-Own’ Firm Gets Major Cash Infusion From Celebrities Will Smith, Jay Z

A company seeking to help bridge the gap between aspiring homeowners and actual homeownership is getting a substantial cash investment from A-list celebrities Will Smith and Jay Z. Landis Technologies will receive a $165 million investment from several firms, two of which are owned, respectively, by Smith and Jay-Z. The company on its website says that participants can apply for Landis to purchase their “dream home,” after which the aspiring homeowner will rent the home from the company for up to two years, with part of the rental money going toward a down payment. “All closing costs are covered by the down payment fund,” the company tells buyers, “so you can stay in your home and easily transition to just…

CEO of Lending Group Argues for ‘Looking Beyond’ Race and Gender, Focusing on ‘Character’

The chief executive officer of a California lending group is urging industry leaders to ignore policy initiatives that target individuals based on race and sex, dismissing such measures as “baloney” and stressing the need to focus on individual character. William Tessar, the CEO of Civic Lending Services, told Mortgage Professional America this week that his company has achieved “diversity targets” not by specifically setting out to fill them but by following a philosophy of “get[ting] the best people” when they’re needed. “You’d better look beyond all the other baloney about ethnicity and gender and age, and just focus on the character of the person and the qualities they bring to the organization,” he said, arguing that “it’s actually rather easy and it’s…