Good morning! Today is Friday, March 12. Exactly one year after the Covid-19 pandemic began, 1 in 10 Americans is fully vaccinated. Booming electric vehicle demand is driving up the price of lithium batteries. Amazon says it won’t sell books framing LGBTQ+ issues as mental illnesses.
And in mortgage and housing news …
BROKER WAR: Appearing on Fox Business News, Rocket Mortgage CEO Jay Farner said that United Wholesale Mortgage’s ultimatum to brokers doesn’t appear to be working. Farner said that Rocket’s broker business is up since UWM announced last week that it would no longer work with brokers who do business with Rocket.
RATES CLIMB: Mortgage rates climbed higher for the fourth straight week as optimism around the economy improves.
ZILLOW HIRES: Zillow announced that it will hire more than 2,000 employees across the country this year, which would increase its workforce by 40 percent.
ROCKET & SPARTY: Rocket Mortgage and Michigan State announced a “massive expansion” of the mortgage company’s support the Big Ten school’s athletic department, including the basketball, football and hockey programs.
CASH-OUT REFINANCINGS: Home prices have soared during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting more borrowers to pocket cash from refinancing.
DATA CENTER GROWTH: Data centers are primed to set growth records this year, according to a new report from commercial real estate company CBRE.
FORBEARANCE HOW TO: The ban on foreclosures with federally-backed mortgages has been extended. Here’s everything you need to know about how forbearance works.
VACATION TOWNS: Homebuyer interest in vacation towns is soaring.
NJ RELIEF: Gov. Murphy signed legislation authorizing comprehensive programs to address mortgage distress in New Jersey.
EUROPEAN LENDERS: Even as optimism about a vaccine-led recovery rips through global markets, European banks remain valued for a deeply uncertain future. There are no easy answers, but going private could be a solution for smaller ones.
FEDERAL BUILDINGS: President Biden revoked former President Trump’s “Promoting Beautiful Civic Architecture” executive order, mandating a classical architecture for federal buildings.