U.S. House Passes Bill To Reverse Mortgage Fee Changes

By KIMBERLEY HAAS The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Middle-Class Borrower Protection Act which would reverse recent changes to fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Republicans have been fighting changes to the loan-level price adjustment matrix which were announced earlier this year and scheduled to go into effect on May 1. Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, who introduced the act, has repeatedly said that the new fee structure is “a socialist redistribution of wealth.” “It’s a scheme created by the Federal Housing Finance Agency that forces financially responsible homebuyers with good credit to subsidize those with bad credit. Responsible action should never be penalized, and irresponsible action shouldn’t be subsidized. Under this rule, a majority of new…

Hot Topic: Converting Office Spaces Into Residential Places

By KIMBERLEY HAAS With a lack of housing plaguing the country, it may be easy to jump to the conclusion that vacant offices could be the perfect fit for new apartments and condominiums, but industry leaders say there are a number of considerations to take into account with these projects. Adam Ducker is the CEO of RCLCO Real Estate Consulting, which offers strategic and tactical advice about property investment, planning, and development. They have offices in Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, and Washington, DC. Ducker said in a recent interview with The Mortgage Note that the concept of renovating office spaces into residential housing precedes the pandemic, even though it is a hot topic now. He authored a…

Luxury Markets: What Do The Wealthy Really Want In Their Homes?

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Large saltwater pools, massage rooms, and places to store extensive wine collections are popular, but there may be more important things to prospective mansion buyers. During the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Las Vegas this month, a panel discussion was held to flush out current demands in the luxury market. Speaking during “Mansions 2024” was Mike Leipart, managing partner of The Agency Development Group; Rob Jensen, president of the Rob Jensen Company; Architect Michael Gardner of Luxus Design Build; and Architect Johnny Cruz of Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Here are five key takeaways: Wellness technology is popular with the rich. Leipart said he was in a home recently where the owner had a sauna,…

Housing Starts Exceed Expectations

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Privately-owned housing starts surpassed estimates in May, beating expectations as the housing market remains tight. The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the latest residential construction statistics on Tuesday morning. “Privately-owned housing starts in May were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,631,000. This is 21.7% (±14.8%) above the revised April estimate of 1,340,000 and is 5.7% (±10.8%) above the May 2022 rate of 1,543,000. Single‐family housing starts in May were at a rate of 997,000; this is 18.5% (±14.1%) above the revised April figure of 841,000,” a press release says. Principal Kelly Mangold of RCLCO Real Estate Consulting in Maryland said this is the second month in a…

All Eyes On The Federal Reserve

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Industry leaders are speculating about what officials at the Federal Reserve will do concerning rate increases during their meeting this week. In May, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said they were prepared to raise rates again if economic conditions worsened, but hinted at a wait-and-see attitude regarding this month’s meeting. Policymakers may even skip raising rates after a smaller than expected rise in the Consumer Price Index, released on Tuesday. CNN reporter Matt Egan said the CPI report gives officials the cover they need to hold off on increasing rates this month. “Investors are becoming increasingly confident that the Fed is going to keep interest rates steady after … 10 consecutive interest rate hikes. The Fed has…

Forecasting The Future: When Will People Start Moving Again?

By KIMBERLEY HAAS Although the market is slow now, there will eventually be a point when homeowners let go of their low interest rates and move. Selma Hepp, chief economist at CoreLogic, said it is just a matter of time. Hepp was speaking during an economic forecast panel at the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Las Vegas last week. During her presentation, she said although the housing market varies throughout the country, it has been a disappointing spring season. “Most all markets at this point are showing declines in home sales, but some markets are showing much larger declines in home sales than others,” Hepp said. She said part of the reason for that is homeowners feel…

Economist: Offices Hurting, But Don’t Count Them Out

By KIMBERLEY HAAS As the commercial real estate market continues to change, office space is down, but not out, according to an economist who says a majority of companies are still committed to having a place where the “secret sauce” of their business is created. Richard Barkham, global chief economist for CBRE in Dallas, said it may take up to nine years for the office market to fully recover but it is important to remember that not all of that sector has been badly hit by drops in value. Barkham said that a large portion of the vacancies are in a minority of the stock, with 80% of the rise in vacancies in 10% of office buildings. The office buildings…

AI’s Impact Highlighted At Real Estate Editors Conference In Las Vegas

By KIMBERLEY HAAS As artificial intelligence continues to dominate news headlines, real estate leaders are speaking about what this wave of technology means for the future of their market. Glenn Phillips, CEO of Lake Homes Realty, said AI is a “massive game changer” during the National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday morning. “In real estate, there is going to be a massive transition of who’s going to get consumer’s attention,” Phillips said. Phillips said AI is going to enhance how they look at consumer behavior and suggested that industry professionals form partnerships to bring themselves to scale. Michael Gerrity, founder and CEO of Global Listings, said they’re already planning to flip the whole listings…

Learn About The Eastern Tennessee Market With Loan Officer Matt Ronne

Tennessee now has more than seven million residents and a senior loan officer who works in the eastern half of the state says inventory and affordability issues have hit the communities he serves. According to U.S. Census Bureau information, the population of Tennessee grew by 2% between April 1, 2020, and July 1, 2022. The latest population estimate is that 7,051,339 people live in the Volunteer State, a nickname earned because of Tennessean’s eagerness to step forward in times of war. Athens, the county seat of McMinn County, is located near the eastern border between the cities of Knoxville and Chattanooga. The population in Athens has grown from 14,086 residents in April 2020 to 14,371 in July 2022 and data…

Q1 Woes: Residential Lending Fell To More Than 20-Year Low

By KIMBERLEY HAAS A report released on Thursday shows that residential lending continues to slow across the United States. According to ATTOM’s first-quarter 2023 U.S. Residential Property Mortgage Origination Report, 1.25 million mortgages were originated in Q1. That number was down 19% from Q4 2022. “Lenders saw opportunities dwindle even more during the first quarter as the longest slowdown in mortgage activity in at least 20 years continued,” Rob Barber, chief executive officer at ATTOM, said in a statement. “In one sense, it wasn’t that unusual, given that wintertime is usually the slow time of the year for lenders. But the latest slide extends a run that started two years ago and has carved away nearly three-quarters of the home-mortgage…