DOJ, FTC Investigate Real Estate Commission Policies

Home sale commissions are under investigation by the Biden administration, which has asked the Federal Trade Commission to adopt rules to address any unfair practices it sees in the real estate industry, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Justice Department is investigating commissions after several civil lawsuits challenging industry rules passed muster in procedural challenges. Critics of traditional broker fees say rising home prices have highlighted an epidemic of excessive fees. Real estate agent fees are typically 5%-6% of the sale price. Homebuyers end up paying part of these fees through the purchase price but have little control over fees because they are set by the seller. Consumer advocates have specifically pointed to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) rules…

Rent.com Releases Eviction Information Tracker

In an effort to better represent the housing crisis as it affects renters and homeowners across America, Rent.com has created an interactive tracking dashboard for eviction and foreclosure information in the U.S. The pandemic has exacerbated financial pressure and housing security for millions of Americans, a problem that has come to a head since the Supreme Court ruled the national eviction moratorium imposed by the Biden administration was unconstitutional. At least 11 million renters are considered seriously behind on payments, and an estimated 3.6 million households could be evicted in the next few months. “While affordable housing has been debated for years, housing insecurity, wealth gaps and eviction trends have become more prominent during the pandemic,” the website reads. “As…

423,000 New Homes For Sale In August

The housing market is leveling out, with smaller, more affordable homes being listed and sellers pricing more competitively as 423,000 new homes go up for sale, according to Realtor.com’s August Housing Market Trends Report. The data show the number of homes actively for sale was up 4.3% nationally in August over the past year, and up 5.1% specifically in large metro areas. “A deceleration in the decline of inventory means the market is heading in an encouraging direction, but active inventory still remains historically low,” the report said. Freddie Mac estimates the US is short 3.8 million single-family homes. That estimate represents a 52% rise in the nation’s home shortage compared with 2018. “Low mortgage rates have motivated homebuyers to endure this…

NAMB And SRE.com Announce Online Marketplace

The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) and global technology provider SRE.com are partnering up to build an online marketplace for borrowers to choose their own mortgage loan originators. The SRE marketplace will allow borrowers to browse the profiles of mortgage loan originators across the US based on search terms for property type and expertise, as well as read reviews posted by other users. Site reliability engineering (SRE) replaces operations teams who manually update websites with software that can automate tasks and manage systems, resulting in an easily scalable and reliable product. “This new online destination will be the industry’s first true borrower-facing portal, where consumers can choose the professionals they want to serve them based on the actual experience…

Zventus Launching “Mortgage Blockchain Lab”

California-based business consulting firm Zventus has announced a new blockchain venture geared towards the financial services industry. The new project is being launched in collaboration with mortgage domain experts, technology partners, and universities to create blockchain technology for the mortgage industry. The “Mortgage Blockchain Lab” will focus on developing new products, services, and solutions to enhance the loan process. The company predicts the results will make mortgage loans more secure, easier to manage, and less expensive, reducing costs for financial services firms by upwards of 50% per loan. A blockchain is a type of distributed database that exclusively stores cryptocurrency transactions that cannot be removed or manipulated. Cryptocurrencies are digital currency systems developed and traded using a variety of computational…

White House Details Plan to Bolster Affordable Housing

President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced a major initiative to bolster affordable housing in the face of a surge in home prices that is preventing some Americans from becoming homeowners. “The large and long-standing gap between the supply and demand of affordable homes for both renters and homeowners make it harder for families to buy their first home and drives up the cost of rent. Higher housing costs also crowd out other investments families can and should make to improve their lives, such as investments in education,” the White House said in a statement. “President Biden is committed to using every tool available in government to produce more affordable housing supply as quickly as possible, and to make supply available to…

Morning Roundup (8/30/21) – Ida Threatens Lousiana Homes, Housing Affordability Projected To Worsen

Good Morning! Today is Monday, Aug. 30. Hurricane Ida made landfall in Lousiana yesterday, leaving more than a million people without power. The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan continues, despite multiple reports of American citizens being left behind. The EU seeks to block non-essential travel from the U.S. Millennial professionals are using their savings to take a break from working and explore new career paths. And in mortgage and housing news… Buying Power: Home buyers in June 2021 had 129% more house-buying power than in 2006, according to the June 2021 First American Real House Price Index. Experts Say: A Reuters poll of experts predicts that housing affordability is set to remain stretched or worsen in the next 2-3 years. Ida Makes…