National Association of Realtors(R) Announces First-Ever Strategic Technology Accelerator, REach(TM)

CHICAGO, IL–(Marketwire – Nov 8, 2012) –  The National Association of Realtors® is announcing REach™, a new type of Accelerator program developed to introduce innovative technology companies to the real estate marketplace. REach™ is being developed through NAR’s strategic venture arm, Second Century Ventures.

Companies across the U.S. and internationally can apply online beginning today through January 10, 2013. REach™ accepts companies at all stages of growth and will be particularly useful to those just now turning a focus to the real estate ecosystem. REach™ will accept six to 10 companies per year and will provide access to one of the world’s largest industries as well as access to NAR, one of the most powerful forces in that industry. 

Participating companies will interact with some of the most highly regarded executives, digital entrepreneurs, and practitioners in the industry who run, manage or have sold companies with a combined multi-billion dollars of revenues in real estate alone. While other Accelerator programs provide some similar functions and many significant benefits, REach™’s differentiating factor is a focus on education, mentorship and market exposure around access to the trillion-dollar real estate market and the strategic expertise NAR can bring. In the process, NAR will also bring added value to its membership and continue to fulfill its core mission by identifying those technologies, resources and companies that will most benefit the industry.

The Accelerator program is not only for companies focused solely on real estate. “Real estate is an industry of opportunity and should be a key focus for any growth-oriented company,” said Constance Freedman, NAR vice president of Strategic Investments and REach™ managing director. The real estate industry accounts for 15 percent of the U.S. economy, over $7 billion of ad spend and 2.5 million jobs with its related professions. 

“We have seen firsthand from the success of our existing investments that companies like DocuSign and Ifbyphone, which are focused on multiple industries including real estate, can realize as much success from partnering with SCV and NAR as can companies like MOVE, Inc. and eProperty Data, which are focused exclusively in real estate,” said Freedman. “There is a huge opportunity in the real estate industry; our job is to help companies recognize the potential so that both they and the industry can benefit from the value they create.” 

SCV and NAR partnerships have helped solutions from companies like DocuSign and MOVE, Inc. become industry standards. The portfolio companies have seen their value grow significantly with SCV’s support: earlier this year DocuSign raised $60 million in Series D investments to bring total funding to $122 million; Ifbyphone secured Series C investments; and eProperty Data was acquired by Xceligent. NAR was an early investor in MOVE, Inc., which went public with NAR as a significant investor.

“This venture truly represents a win for all parties,” said NAR CEO Dale Stinton. “It provides our members with cutting-edge resources that have already been vetted by their association; it creates solutions for the industry, consumers and investors that will improve all stages of the home-buying and selling process; and gives these companies an unprecedented opportunity. And it’s the first time an organization like NAR is behind an accelerator like REach™, which makes it that much more powerful.”

Organizations of this size with more than 100 years in existence don’t generally take such innovative steps, and this one comes with broad implications — real estate has pulled the U.S. economy from five of the past seven recessions and REach™ could help quicken an economic recovery by bringing to market solutions that help consumers, investors and real estate professionals conduct real estate transactions more efficiently and transparently.

The REach™ program is nine months long and will begin in March 2013. For more information about REach™ or to learn how to submit a business for consideration, visit www.narREach.com.

About Second Century Ventures: Second Century Ventures is the strategic investment arm of the National Association of Realtors® focused on promoting innovation in the real estate industry and helping the entrepreneurial spirit of real estate to thrive. NAR can provide immediate strategic value to SCV portfolio companies by allowing them access to the vast resources of a 300-person organization with the expertise, influence and power that comes only by being ingrained in an industry for over 100 years.

About NAR: The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the “News, Blogs and Videos” tab on the website. Information about Second Century Ventures is available at www.secondcenturyventures.com.

Roundup: Wal-Mart to open earlier; Fannie Mae profit improves; Macy’s sees … – Tribune

By Tribune-Review

Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Updated 5 hours ago

Wal-Mart raises stake for holiday season’s start

Attention frustrated Black Friday shoppers who can never grab that hot product: Wal-Mart is hoping to relieve some of that anxiety. The world’s largest retailer is throwing its doors open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, two hours earlier than a year ago. It’s also guaranteeing shoppers that it will have three of the most popular items it sells if they line up inside the store during a one-hour event that day. Those who are lined up inside the store between 10 and 11 p.m. on Thanksgiving will be able to purchase the following items: an Apple iPad 2 with Wi-Fi for $399 plus a $74 Wal-Mart gift card; an Emerson 32-inch LCD TV for $148, down from the original $228; and an LG Blu-ray Disc player for $38, about half off the original price.

Fannie Mae earns $1.8B in 3Q

Mortgage giant Fannie Mae earned $1.8 billion from July through September, helped by an improving housing market. The government-controlled company said Wednesday that it paid a dividend of $2.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury. It was Fannie’s third profitable quarter since being taken over by the government during the 2008 financial crisis. The gain compares with a net loss of $5.1 billion last year. Taxpayers have spent about $116 billion to rescue Fannie. So far, the company has repaid the government $23 billion. Freddie Mac said Tuesday that it earned $2.9 billion in the period and paid a dividend of $1.8 billion.

Macy’s 3Q net income rises

Macy’s Inc. sent out a mixed message: It raised its annual profit guidance but told investors Wednesday that Hurricane Sandy would temper the start of the holiday season. The department store chain’s fourth-quarter profit forecast was below analysts’ expectations. Macy’s Inc. earned $145 million, or 36 cents per share, for the three-month period ended Oct. 27. That compares with $139 million, or 32 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 3.7 percent to $6.07 billion.

Microsoft to drop Messenger

Microsoft is scrapping its instant-messaging program and forcing most users to switch to Skype. Maintaining Windows Live Messenger made less sense after Microsoft Corp. bought Skype for $8.5 billion last year. A new version of Skype released a few weeks ago allows users to sign in with a Microsoft account. By merging the two services, people won’t have to maintain two separate contact lists. Microsoft said Messenger users who switch to Skype will get benefits such as the ability to call landline and mobile phones and better support on mobile devices.

Steel prices may rebound

Steel prices, which touched a 22-month low in October, may rebound by the end of the year as production declines, said Nick Webb, an analyst at Jefferies Co. Mills may charge as much as $700 a short ton by the end of the year for hot-rolled coil, a benchmark steel used in cars, trucks and appliances, Webb said. Prices were unchanged in the week ended Nov. 6 at $610, up 4.7 percent since the low of $582.50 in the week ended Oct. 16, data from Steel Business Briefing show.

Earnings

• Broadcaster CBS Corp. said third-quarter earnings rose 16 percent from a year ago as revenue inched higher, mostly helped by higher fees from TV distributors. But advertising revenue fell due to poor results from CBS Radio and the impact of having programs pre-empted by the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Net income rose to $391 million, or 60 cents per share. That’s up from net income of $338 million, or 50 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose less than 2 percent to $3.42 billion.

Other business news

• GNC Holdings Inc. on Wednesday announced an offering of 11.7 million shares of Class A common stock that will be sold by Ares Corporate Opportunities Fund II L.P. and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board. The nutritional supplements maker and retailer, headquartered Downtown, said it isn’t issuing or selling any shares in the offering. The offering is to close Tuesday; J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is the underwriter.

• Wesco International Inc. is seeking a package of loans totaling $755 million to back its purchase of Eecol Electric Corp. A $605 million seven-year term loan will pay interest at 3 percentage points more than the London interbank offered rate, Bloomberg News reported. The company is also seeking a $150 million seven-year term loan in Canadian dollars.

— Staff and wire reports

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Fannie Mae sells $3 billion bills at lower rates


Wed Nov 7, 2012 9:57am EST

Nov 7 (Reuters) – Fannie Mae, the largest U.S.
home funding source, said on Wednesday it sold $3 billion of
benchmark bills at lower interest rates compared with last
week’s sale of similar maturities.

Fannie Mae said it sold $1.5 billion of three-month bills
due Feb. 6, 2013 at a 0.132 percent stop-out rate, or lowest
accepted rate, down from the 0.135 percent rate for last week’s
sale of $1 billion of three-month bills.

The company also sold $1.5 billion of six-month bills due
May 8, 2013 at a 0.165 percent rate, down from the 0.168 percent
rate for $1 billion six-month bills sold Oct. 31.

The three-month bills were priced at 99.967 with a money
market yield of 0.132 percent. The six-month bills were priced
at 99.917 with a money market yield of 0.165 percent.

Settlement is Nov. 7-8.

Fannie Mae earns $1.8 billion in third quarter

WASHINGTON — Mortgage giant Fannie Mae earned $1.8 billion from July through September, helped by an improving housing market that has lifted home prices.

The government-controlled company said Wednesday that it paid a dividend of $2.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury and sought no additional federal aid.

It was Fannie’s third profitable quarter since being taken over by the government during the 2008 financial crisis. The gain compares with a net loss of $5.1 billion in the same period last year.

“We are seeing signs of sustained improvement in housing,” Fannie President and CEO Timothy Mayopoulos said in a statement. “Our financial condition has improved markedly.”

The government rescued Fannie and smaller sibling Freddie Mac after both incurred massive losses on risky mortgages. Taxpayers have spent about $116 billion to rescue Fannie. So far, the company has repaid the government $23 billion.

The housing market is finally starting to recover more than five years after the crisis. Home sales are higher than last year, prices are rising on a consistent basis and builders are starting more homes. The market still has a long way back to full health.

The recovery is also helping Fannie and Freddie rebound.

Freddie Mac said Tuesday that it earned $2.9 billion in the July-September quarter and paid a dividend of $1.8 billion to the U.S. Treasury. It was Freddie’s fourth straight profitable quarter.

Fannie and

Freddie are required to pay 10 percent dividends on the government money they receive.

Under a new federal policy announced last summer, Fannie and Freddie have to turn over all profits they earn every quarter to the government. The change was made to ensure that the companies pay the government back.

Fannie and Freddie own or guarantee about half of all U.S. mortgages, or nearly 31 million home loans. Along with several federal agencies, they backed nearly 90 percent of new mortgages over the past year.

Fannie Mae Posts Profit

Mortgage guarantor Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB), Wednesday reported a profit for the fourth quarter, as a recovery in the housing market boosted home prices. The company continued to benefit from lower credit-related expenses, higher prices on its properties, and a decline in fair value losses.

Fannie Mae CEO Timothy Mayopoulos said, “We are seeing signs of sustained improvement in housing and our actions to support the housing recovery have generated strong financial results in 2012.”

Fannie Mae also said it paid a dividend of $2.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury during the quarter and did not seek federal aid. Fannie Mae and its sister company Freddie Mac went bankrupt after the 2008 crisis and had to bank on federal aid aggregating about $190 billion. Both have regained ground on the back of better home prices and lower delinquencies.

Fannie Mae said its liquidation preference of Treasury’s senior preferred stock remains at $117.1 billion, which requires a dividend payment of $2.9 billion for the fourth quarter. Through September 30, Fannie Mae has paid $28.5 billion in cash dividends to the Treasury.

Freddie Mac on Tuesday reported a quarterly profit and indicated paying a dividend of $1.8 billion to the Treasury. Freddie has now given back $21.9 billion in cash dividends.

Starting next year, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will need to channel all profits to the Treasury as dividend payment, compared with a prior practice whereby they were required only to pay a 10 percent dividend payment.

Fannie Mae reported fourth-quarter net income of $1.8 billion, compared with net loss of $5 billion last year.

After payment of preferred dividends, Fannie Mae reported fourth-quarter net loss to common shares of $1.108 billion or $0.19 per share, compared with $7.579 billion or $1.32 per share last year.

Revenues for the quarter totaled $5.70 billion, compared with $5.48 billion in the prior year.

Fannie Mae benefited from lower credit-loss provision that declined to $2 billion for the quarter from $4 billion last year. Fair value losses also were lower at $1 billion, compared with $4.5 billion last year.

Fannie Mae indicated taking steps to help homeowners impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Options available to Fannie Mae servicers include: extending forbearance on mortgage payments for up to 12 months, providing loan modifications, waiving late payment charges, among others.

Fannie Mae stock closed Wednesday at $0.29, up 8.07%, on a volume of over 17 million shares.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

Freddie Mac Profit Shows Continued Turnaround

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Freddie Mac posts Q3 profit, seeks no Treasury aid

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Housing Still Precarious in Obama’s Second Term

The housing market is on the slow road to recovery. Home prices in the last three months rose in 120 out of 149 metropolitan markets surveyed by the National Association of Realtors.

Compare that to just 39 rising metros a year ago. The median home price is up 7.6 percent from a year ago, the strongest year-over-year increase since the first quarter of 2006.

Much of that is due to the shift in sales away from distressed properties, as lenders modify more loans and in some case write down mortgage principal.

The one thing standing in the way of a more robust housing recovery, is tight credit. Mortgage rates are at near-historic lows, but too many potential home buyers still cannot access these rates due to damaged credit.

“Mortgage-dependent buyers are still only bit-part players in the U.S. housing market recovery,” writes Ed Stansfield of Capital Economics.

So how does a second Obama term play into this still fragile housing market?

“The President’s victory is broadly positive for mortgage insurers and broadly negative for banks and homebuilders,” writes Jaret Seiberg, Senior Policy Analyst at Guggenhiem Partners.

Household formation is coming back, which is great news for the nation’s home builders, if they can obtain the financing they need to build and if their potential buyers can as well. That’s where the fiscal cliff comes in and the fear of another recession.

“The National Association of Home Builders urges President Obama and congressional leaders to work together to resolve issues related to the ‘fiscal cliff’ by extending all of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts while being mindful of how broad-based tax reform will affect the fledgling housing recovery,” wrote NAHB chairman Barry Rutenberg in a release Wednesday.

Since housing finance barely came up during the campaign, and President Obama never gave voters any kind of vision about the future of mortgage lending, according to Seiberg, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will likely remain unchanged/unreformed through the mid-term elections in 2015.

The bigger issue is regulation in the mortgage market under Dodd-Frank legislation and the potential of the overall economy going over the fiscal cliff. Lenders face new rules on mortgage underwriting and how much mortgage risk they may be required to hold (QM/QRM). While a Romney administration could have stopped some of the rule-making (albeit not all of it), it will now go forward as planned. The mortgage industry is therefore reacting cautiously.

(Read More: Economy Faces Slow Growth No Matter Who Wins Election)

“We will ask for greater focus from this administration on ensuring that this regulation coming from so many different regulators is being considered more thoughtfully,” said David Stevens, president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. The MBA is renewing its call on the President to appoint a federal housing policy coordinator to act as something of a “traffic cop” to ensure “a coordinated housing policy where federal and regulatory agencies are effectively talking to each other” during the rulemaking process.

(Read More:Surprisingly, Obama Won on the Economy)

As for the millions of borrowers who still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, the Obama administration has consistently said it wants to extend mortgage refinancing to take advantage of today’s record low rates. With Democrats still holding the Senate, it seems more likely they could get new legislation on mortgage refinancing, but analysts bet again the removal of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s regulator, Edward DeMarco, who has stood staunchly in the way of lowering mortgage principal.

Click on ticker to follow real estate news:

US Home Builders

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Questions?  Comments? 

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Home prices up in 81 U.S. cities

HOUSING

Home prices up in 81 U.S. cities

Prices for single-family homes rose in 81 percent of U.S. cities as the property market extends a recovery from the worst crash since the 1930s, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday.

Values are climbing after a six-year slump as buyers compete for a shrinking supply of properties listed for sale. U.S. home prices jumped 5 percent in September from a year earlier, the biggest 12-month increase since July 2006, CoreLogic Inc., an Irvine real estate data provider, said this week.

The national median price for an existing single-family home was $186,100 in the third quarter, up 7.6 percent from the same period last year, the Realtors said. Foreclosures and short sales, in which the price is less than the mortgage balance, accounted for 23 percent of third-quarter deals, down from 30 percent a year earlier.

The best-performing metro area was Phoenix, where prices increased 35 percent from a year earlier. The Raleigh, N.C., area had the biggest decline, with the median selling price falling 16 percent in the quarter.

TELECOM

$14 billion to ATT networks

ATT, the top U.S. telephone company, said it will invest $14 billion over three years to improve the networks that deliver wireless communications, high-speed Internet access and television services.

The company is devoting $8 billion to the network that handles mobile data and calling and $6 billion to wire-line equipment, ATT said Wednesday. It also forecast that per-share earnings will rise at a mid-single-digit percentage rate in the coming three years while lifting its quarterly dividend by 2.3 percent to 45 cents per share.

Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson is taking steps to help ATT fend off phone competitors led by Verizon Communications, as well as cable providers such as Comcast Corp.

Sprint makes Midwest buy

Sprint is buying U.S. Cellular markets in the Midwest for $480 million to boost its network capacity in that region.

Sprint Nextel, the third-largest U.S. cell phone carrier, said Wednesday that it is buying spectrum, or space on the airwaves, and 585,000 customers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio. That covers about 10 percent of U.S. Cellular’s customer base and includes its key Chicago and St. Louis markets.

The acquisition should give a needed boost to Sprint’s network, which doesn’t have as much available spectrum as the larger carriers do. That holds back its network speeds somewhat.

The acquisition, which remains subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the middle of next year.

SMARTPHONES

BlackBerry 10 said to be DOA

Research In Motion fell the most in more than a month after Pacific Crest Securities said the company’s new BlackBerry 10 operating system, the linchpin of its comeback plan, may be dead on arrival.

“We believe BB10 is likely to be DOA,” James Faucette, a Pacific Crest analyst in Portland, Ore., said in a report. He has the equivalent of a sell rating on the shares. “We expect the new OS to be met with a lukewarm response at best and ultimately likely to fail.”

RIM shares fell 9 percent to $8.24 Wednesday, their biggest decline since Sept. 21. The stock had already tumbled 38 percent this year through Tuesday.

FOOD

Kraft Foods beats forecasts

Kraft Foods Group, the North American grocery business reporting its first results after separating from the snacks enterprise, posted third-quarter revenue that beat analysts’ estimates Wednesday, helped by higher prices and stronger sales of cheese.

Net income rose 13 percent to $470 million (79 cents per share) from $417 million (70 cents) a year earlier, the company said. Sales rose 3 percent to $4.61 billion, topping the $4.55 billion average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Kraft also reiterated its 2013 earnings forecast of $2.60 a share.

The original Kraft Foods Inc., founded in 1909, split into two companies last month, allowing its international snacks business, called Mondelez International, to push products into emerging markets and make acquisitions.

Fannie Mae earns $1.8 billion in third quarter

WASHINGTON (AP) – Mortgage giant Fannie Mae earned $1.8 billion from July through September, helped by an improving housing market that has lifted home prices.

The government-controlled company paid a dividend of $2.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury and sought no additional federal aid.

It was Fannie third profitable quarter since being taken over by the government during the 2008 financial crisis. The gain compares with a net loss of $5.1 billion in the same period last year.

The government rescued Fannie and smaller sibling Freddie Mac after both incurred massive losses on risky mortgages. Taxpayers have spent about $116 billion to rescue Fannie. So far, the company has repaid the government $23 billion.