Protesters Rally At BlueHub Capital Headquarters

By KIMBERLEY HAAS More than 100 protesters who claim BlueHub Capital has a predatory program that has fleeced distressed homeowners rallied in Boston on Tuesday morning. The Stabilizing Urban Neighborhoods program hit the spotlight in February of 2020, when a group of 14 homeowners filed a class-action lawsuit in Massachusetts Superior Court. WGBH reported at the time that the plaintiffs alleged they were the victims of predatory lending practices while facing foreclosure or hardship. BlueHub Capital leaders responded at the time by saying the SUN initiative had successfully helped more than 1,100 families facing foreclosure and eviction. “SUN has reduced borrowers’ collective outstanding mortgage principal by about $68 million and their monthly mortgage payments by nearly $42 million,” company leaders…

Metaverse Not Just A Trendy Word After $5 Million Commercial Real Estate Deal

By KIMBERLEY HAAS and TYRONE TOWNSEND TCG World has announced a strategic partnership with Curzio Research, which has spent $5 million to acquire 19 commercial real estate properties inside the Metaverse. The acquisition is one of the largest real estate purchases for virtual property inside the Metaverse, and Curzio plans on building its headquarters in the Asia region of TCG World, near WallStreetBets. By being part of this region, company leaders expect to have access to traders. VIP members can meet with other investors, attend live events, host conferences, listen to exclusive podcasts, and hold special education courses, according to a video posted online. Curzio is expected to complete its headquarters before September. More celebrities and companies are putting money…

Work From Home Debate Heats Up Again In Mortgage Industry

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The president of a reverse mortgage company is claiming that Elon Musk’s message to Tesla employees unfairly bashes the benefits of remote work and that since going fully remote in 2020 his company has been voted by its employees as a top place to work. Musk is demanding that Tesla office workers return to in-person work or leave the company. “Anyone who wishes to do remote work must be in the office for a minimum (and I mean *minimum*) of 40 hours per week or depart Tesla. This is less than we ask of factory workers,” Musk wrote in leaked emails. Although Tesla is an automotive and clean energy company, news of Musk’s demands sparked a new…

Women Leaders: Meet Three Of Amrock’s Movers And Shakers

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Three female leaders at Amrock are encouraging other women to ignore the noise and believe in themselves as they climb the corporate ladder. Amrock, headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, is a leading national provider of title insurance, property valuations, and settlement services. They are a part of Rocket Companies. Nicole Beattie, Chief Executive Officer of Amrock, has been with Rocket for nearly 18 years and began her career in mortgage banking at Rocket Mortgage – which was Quicken Loans – before transitioning to origination operations leadership. Since then, Beattie has held numerous roles, leading teams in underwriting, closing, and servicing. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t doubted herself on the way up the ladder. Beattie reported during a recent…

Bidding Wars For Rentals Seen As Prices Rise

By KIMBERLEY HAAS As prices for rental housing continue to climb in many parts of the country, bidding wars are becoming more common. According to a report released last week by Joel Berner and Danielle Hale for Realtor.com, rent has reached another high in the company’s data history, averaging $1,827 in the 50 largest US metropolitan areas. Rental increases are most pronounced in Sun Belt metros, Berner and Hale wrote. That is because as more people have the opportunity to work remotely they are choosing warmer climates to live in. Three Florida metros are particularly affected. They include Miami, where rent was up 51.6% from April 2021; Orlando, 32.9%; and Tampa, 27.8%. Overall median rent in the Miami, Fort Lauderdale,…

Settlement Secured In Sexual Harassment Suit Against Landlord

By KIMBERLEY HAAS An agreement to resolve a lawsuit against a landlord who allegedly touched female tenants and entered their apartments without consent has been reached. Officials at the United States Department of Justice announced on Tuesday that Davenport, Iowa, landlord Juan Goitia will be prohibited from managing rental housing and is required to retain an independent property manager to oversee any rental properties he has now or in the future because he violated the Fair Housing Act. “Sexual harassment by housing providers is an illegal and egregious abuse of power that deprives tenants of their right to be safe and secure in their homes,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. Clarke said…

New Program Helps Buyers Get Energy-Efficient Appliances With Their Home Loan

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Guild Mortgage has partnered with The Home Depot to help buyers save on utility costs and manage multiple payments by bundling the cost of new energy-efficient appliances into their home loan. The GreenSmart Advantage program offers options to finance energy or water-efficient improvements up to 5% of a home’s appraised value by consolidating the costs into a mortgage. Refrigerators, dishwashers, smart thermostats, washing machines, and dryers are examples of what can be included. Primary FHA purchase transactions are eligible. A 3.5% down payment and a credit score above 580 are required to qualify. Mary Ann McGarry is CEO of Guild Mortgage, which is headquartered in San Diego. She said in a statement that the company is always…

A Glimmer Of Hope For Homebuyers?

By KIMBERLEY HAAS There are pockets of the country where more homes are being listed than there were before the housing market exploded in 2020 which is a good sign for buyers in those metro areas. According to an article by Margaret Heidenry for Realtor.com, metros that saw the most new homes hit the market include Riverside, CA (+23.3%), Austin, TX (+16.5%), and Sacramento, CA (+11.8%). Metros include the main city and surrounding suburbs, towns, and smaller urban communities, according to the article. Compass Agent Paul Reddam in Austin told Heidenry it is hard to nail down what is causing inventory to loosen, but this is typically the peak of their real estate cycle. The bad news is that the number of homes for sale…

Acting Comptroller Discusses Bank Mergers

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The Acting Comptroller of the Currency says there is a need to update the frameworks used to analyze bank merger applications. In a speech before the Brookings Institution on Monday, Michael Hsu discussed proposed mergers in the context of bank competition, financial stability, and facilitating the needs of communities. “Bank mergers have received significant attention this past year. Concerns about the negative effects of bank mergers on competition, communities, and financial stability have prompted some to call for a moratorium on merger activity,” Hsu said. “In response, others have defended the benefits of mergers. They note that the U.S. financial services market is highly competitive, and mergers allow institutions to achieve needed economies of scale and to…

Consumer Sentiment On Housing Hits Lowest Level Since May 2020

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Consumers across the country continue to report difficult homebuying conditions due to inflation, higher mortgage rates, and home price appreciation. Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, says that in April their Home Purchase Sentiment Index fell to its lowest level since the spring of 2020. The percentage of respondents who said it is a good time to buy a home decreased from 24% to 19%, while the percentage who said it is a bad time to buy increased from 73% to 76%. As a result, the net share of those who say it is a good time to buy decreased 8 percentage points month over month, according to the survey. “The current lack…