Skagitonian makes cover of Realtor Magazine

Realtor Dominic Pettruzzelli, 29, pictured in front of one of his listings, was featured in the “30 Under 30” issue of Realtor Magazine.

Silicon Valley Realtors take homeownership concerns to the Capitol

Realtor leadership from around the country converged on Washington, D.C. last week for the National Association of Realtors annual legislative meetings, advocating on behalf of home ownership and private property rights. The delegation from the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors met with U.S. Representatives Anna Eshoo, Jackie Speier, and Ro Khanna.

The Realtors covered a breadth of issues at these small group meetings, including tax reform, flood insurance, and the preservation of sustainable home ownership. On tax reform, Realtors urged members of U.S. Congress to preserve the incentives for home ownership in the new tax plan. Though no tax reform legislation has been introduced in Congress yet, realtors are concerned about proposals being discussed.

Under proposals that limit the mortgage interest deduction and repeal property and local tax deductions, homeowners earning between $50,000 and $200,000 would see their taxes increase, whereas non-homeowners would see tax cuts of $516.

“We’re concerned that any proposal that limits the tax incentives for home ownership would dramatically reduce the value of existing homes and lead to a decline in net worth for many, especially seniors,” Denise Welsh, president of the Silicon Valley Realtors group, told the members of Congress.

The leadership from the local realtor group also advocated for a multiyear re-authorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. Authority for the program expires on Sept. 30. If the program were to lapse, then the NFIP would not be able to renew policies in 22,000 communities and an estimated 40,000 property sales per month would lapse. Realtors are concerned the private sector cannot guarantee access to affordable flood insurance to the five million program policy holders.

The association has also put together a package of bills entitled “Protecting Sustainable Home ownership.” Under this header is a bill to extend consumer disclosures to Property Assessed Clean Energy companies. PACE loans are spreading in this region. Borrowers pay back debt borrowed to make environmental upgrades through their tax bill. These programs have been rife with abuse from contractors overselling what is needed, lack good disclosures to the borrowers, and have prepayment penalties. Lenders are also refusing to loan to homes with a PACE lien.

Included in this category is the Realtor proposal that guaranteed fees charged in government-backed loans be directed towards programs that support home ownership for the middle class, instead of using the funds for other government spending projects.

Realtors also oppose any suggestion to eliminate government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. “We believe Fannie and Freddie should be reformed and not be under conservatorship. Without the ability to sell mortgages on the secondary market, the 30-year fixed mortgage would be eliminated for all but the wealthy,” explained Welsh.

Joining Welsh at the meetings with members of Congress were Bill Moody, the local Realtor association’s president-elect; Christ Isaacson, region 9 chair; Carole Feldstein, Eshoo’s federal political coordinator; Leannah Hunt, NAR director; and leadership from neighboring Realtor associations.

Placester and the National Association of Realtors(R) Launch Free Real Estate Websites to More Than 1.2 Million …

WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired – May 25, 2017) – Last year, Realtors® spent a median of $70 to maintain a website. To help reduce those business costs, real estate website and marketing platform Placester is extending its partnership with the National Association of Realtors® to bring a basic “NAR Edition” website to the association’s 1.2 million members at no charge. NAR members will also receive discounts on advanced website features and products.

Placester, an all-in-one business platform, provides industry-leading sales and marketing solutions for real estate professionals, including lead-capturing websites, client management tools, marketing automation and analytics, and an online academy featuring an extensive library of educational resources. Placester’s exclusive websites and discounts for NAR Members are made possible through NAR’s Realtor Benefits® Program.

“With nine in 10 homebuyers citing websites as their most useful source of information, Placester and NAR recognize that in order to succeed, agents need an online foundation that promotes their brand and provides value to the consumer,” said Matt Barba, CEO, Placester. “This partnership will enable every Realtor® to build an online presence that they control. Placester’s mission is to help each and every real estate professional with the online business tools to compete effectively online as well as face-to-face,” Barba said.

With Placester’s exclusive NAR Edition websites, NAR members receive a responsive website for both web and mobile that includes IDX listing integration capability, a mortgage calculator, editable page templates, a homepage with customizable image slideshow, social media integration, the ability to add branding, and more — all for no charge.

In addition to Placester’s free edition for NAR members, Realtors® will also receive discounts on advanced site features and products, including single property websites, broker websites, and Placester’s advanced Essential, Premium, and Premium PLUS bundles, which include integrated lead management, drip marketing tools, and more.

“As technology changes the way consumers approach buying and selling homes, Realtors® are seeing an increasing online demand for in-depth property and neighborhood information,” said Bob Goldberg, NAR senior vice president, Marketing and Business Development. “This expanded partnership with Placester means that every NAR member can create an effective and professional website for free for running and growing their business.”

Built on the foundation of affordable and well-designed agent websites, Placester powers the businesses of more than 400,000 real estate professionals with solutions for CRM and drip email marketing, along with data-driven insights, mobile applications, and marketing services. This includes agents in 95 percent of U.S.-based real estate brands, as well as independent brokerages. For more information on Placester’s exclusive NAR Edition, visit https://placester.com/nar/.

About Placester

Placester is an all-in-one business platform for real estate professionals with beautiful lead capturing websites, lead management, email marketing, marketing automation, analytics, free education and 24/7 support. Founded in 2011 by Matthew Barba, a former real estate agent, and Frederick Townes, a seasoned technologist, the Placester platform enables real estate professionals to grow their businesses online and via mobile through seamless MLS integration, natural language search and eye-catching visuals. In addition, Placester offers a wide range of apps and add-ons for high-impact email marketing, digital advertising campaigns, lead management and streamlining of everyday tasks.

Currently serving two in five real estate professionals in the U.S., Placester is a proud technology partner to leading real estate brands across North America, and the sole website provider for the Realtor Benefits® Program, the official member benefits program of the National Association of Realtors®. To date, Placester has raised $100 million in funding, backed by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Romulus Capital and Techstars. For more information, please visit placester.com.

About the National Association of Realtors®

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

The Realtor Benefits® Program is the association’s official member benefits program, connecting members with savings and unique offers on products and services just for Realtors® from more than 30 companies recognized as leaders in their respective industries.

Fannie Mae Announces Third Front-End Credit Insurance Risk …

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Fannie Mae to stop selling properties to company using rent-to-own …

Fannie Mae, the mortgage finance firm controlled by the federal government, has stopped selling properties to a company engaging in controversial rent-to-own practices, the New York Times reported.

Vision Property Management LLC, which has 137 properties listed in Michigan — about seven in Detroit — has been using a business model popular since the financial crisis: The company buys cheap foreclosed homes and sells them to people who can’t afford a traditional mortgage but who want to become homeowners.

The homes are rented out with the promise of ownership sometime down the line — but renters are often stuck will back debt, steep upkeep costs and unfulfilled expectations, as Bridge Magazine recently reported. Critics and activists have called the practice a tool to exploit low-income homeowners.

Fannie Mae ended property sales to Vision Property Management after it conducted a review of the South Carolina-based company’s rent-to-own practices, the New York Times reported. The mortgage finance firm said it will restrict future sales of foreclosed homes to companies using seller financing practices that hurt renters and buyers, like rent-to-own and other payment agreements based on monthly installments, according to the New York Times.

Fannie Mae’s new policy has the potential to stymie businesses that use rent-to-own and similar models. Thousands of foreclosed homes have already been sold to Vision Property Management and similar companies, the article said.

Fannie Mae Gets Green Light on Third Front-End CIRT

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Freddie Mac Forgoes Issuing a Reference Notes Security on its May 24, 2017 Announcement Date

MCLEAN, VA, May 24, 2017 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — MCLEAN, VA–(Marketwired – May 24, 2017) –  Freddie Mac (otcqb:FMCC) announced today that it will forgo issuing a Reference Notes® security on its May 24, 2017 announcement date. The company’s 2017 Reference Notes calendar designates dates that it may use to announce the issuance of Reference Notes securities. 

This announcement is not an offer to sell any Freddie Mac securities. Offers for any given security are made only through applicable offering circulars and related supplements, which incorporate Freddie Mac’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2016, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on February 16, 2017; all other reports Freddie Mac filed with the SEC pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act) since December 31, 2016, excluding any information “furnished” to the SEC on Form 8-K; and all documents that Freddie Mac files with the SEC pursuant to Sections 13(a), 13(c) or 14 of the Exchange Act, excluding any information “furnished” to the SEC on Form 8-K.

Freddie Mac’s press releases sometimes contain forward-looking statements. A description of factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the expectations expressed in these and other forward-looking statements can be found in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2016, and its reports on Form 10-Q and Form 8-K, filed with the SEC and available on the Investor Relations page of the company’s Web site at www.FreddieMac.com/investors and the SEC’s website.

Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders and taxpayers. Learn more at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac and Freddie Mac’s blog FreddieMac.com/blog.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lisa Gagnon 703-903-3385 INVESTOR CONTACT: Sean Forde 571-382-4090

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Freddie Mac: Cash-out refinance activity highest since the bust …

This years is shaping up to outpace expectations thanks to a resilience in refinance demand, especially when it comes to cash-out transactions.

According to Freddie Mac’s May Economic and Housing Research Outlook report, 2017 is performing so well that its increased its 2017 forecast for mortgage originations by just over $200 billion and added $100 billion to our 2018 forecast.

The year started out with a surprise uptick in refinance borrowers took cash out, increasing to 49% in the first quarter of 2017, which is up from 44% in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Freddie noted that this is the highest share since the fourth quarter of 2008.

However, it cautioned that the data is still below the peak of 89% in the third quarter of 2006.

The data doesn’t come as a shock though given that home prices have long been on the rise. The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s latest home price report showed that seasonally adjusted monthly index for March was up 0.6% from February.

Looking at it from a different perspective though, even though the percentage of refinance borrowers taking cash out increased in the first quarter, the total dollar amount cashed out decreased. In the first quarter of this year, an estimated $14 billion in net home equity was cashed out, down from $19.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016.

But despite volume increasing in recent quarters, it is still below the peak of $84 billion in the second quarter of 2006.

Plus, continually low interest rates are majorly contributing the strength in the housing market. Mortgage rates for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage reached as high as 4.3% in March.

Since then, rates have declined about a quarter of a percentage point to right around 4% where they have been holding in recent weeks. This won’t stick around forever though, as mortgage rates are likely to head higher later this year.

“Despite weak economic growth, housing got off to a good start in 2017 because low mortgage rates have given the spring homebuying season a pleasant surprise,” said Sean Becketti, chief economist with Freddie Mac.

“Mortgage rates started March just above 4% and have mostly drifted lower since then, even falling below 4%. With home sales, housing starts and home values up, 2017 is shaping up to be the best year for housing in over a decade,” said Becketti.

The chart below is an updated version on Freddie’s forecasts for the year, which includes real GDP, mortgage rates, housing starts and home sales. 

Click to enlarge

(Source: Freddie Mac)

Freddie Mac: Mortgage rates now sit at lowest level in 2017

As forecasted, mortgage rates continued to drop in the latest Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey. And not only did rates drop, but they now sit at their lowest mark of the year.

Last week, mortgage rates fell slightly, but remained above the 4% mark. Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Becketti said at the time, “The 30-year mortgage rate fell three basis points this week to 4.02%. However, this week’s survey closed prior to Wednesday’s flight to quality.”

The latest survey results showed that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.95% for the week ending May 25, 2017. This is down from last week when it averaged 4.02%, but up from 3.64% a year ago. 

The 15-year FRM averaged 3.19%, down from last week when it averaged 3.27%. In 2016, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.89%. 

In addition, the 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.07% this week, falling from last week’s 3.13%. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 2.87%.

“As we predicted, the 30-year mortgage rate fell seven basis points this week in a delayed reaction to last week’s sharp drop in Treasury yields. The survey rate stands at 3.95% today, a new low for the year,” said Becketti about this week’s rates.

The chart below shows how mortgage rates have performed over the last year.

Click to enlarge

(Source: Freddie Mac) 

Placester and the National Association of Realtors(R) Launch Free …

WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwired – May 25, 2017) – Last year, Realtors® spent a median of $70 to maintain a website. To help reduce those business costs, real estate website and marketing platform Placester is extending its partnership with the National Association of Realtors® to bring a basic “NAR Edition” website to the association’s 1.2 million members at no charge. NAR members will also receive discounts on advanced website features and products.

Placester, an all-in-one business platform, provides industry-leading sales and marketing solutions for real estate professionals, including lead-capturing websites, client management tools, marketing automation and analytics, and an online academy featuring an extensive library of educational resources. Placester’s exclusive websites and discounts for NAR Members are made possible through NAR’s Realtor Benefits® Program.

“With nine in 10 homebuyers citing websites as their most useful source of information, Placester and NAR recognize that in order to succeed, agents need an online foundation that promotes their brand and provides value to the consumer,” said Matt Barba, CEO, Placester. “This partnership will enable every Realtor® to build an online presence that they control. Placester’s mission is to help each and every real estate professional with the online business tools to compete effectively online as well as face-to-face,” Barba said.

With Placester’s exclusive NAR Edition websites, NAR members receive a responsive website for both web and mobile that includes IDX listing integration capability, a mortgage calculator, editable page templates, a homepage with customizable image slideshow, social media integration, the ability to add branding, and more — all for no charge.

In addition to Placester’s free edition for NAR members, Realtors® will also receive discounts on advanced site features and products, including single property websites, broker websites, and Placester’s advanced Essential, Premium, and Premium PLUS bundles, which include integrated lead management, drip marketing tools, and more.

“As technology changes the way consumers approach buying and selling homes, Realtors® are seeing an increasing online demand for in-depth property and neighborhood information,” said Bob Goldberg, NAR senior vice president, Marketing and Business Development. “This expanded partnership with Placester means that every NAR member can create an effective and professional website for free for running and growing their business.”

Built on the foundation of affordable and well-designed agent websites, Placester powers the businesses of more than 400,000 real estate professionals with solutions for CRM and drip email marketing, along with data-driven insights, mobile applications, and marketing services. This includes agents in 95 percent of U.S.-based real estate brands, as well as independent brokerages. For more information on Placester’s exclusive NAR Edition, visit https://placester.com/nar/.

About Placester

Placester is an all-in-one business platform for real estate professionals with beautiful lead capturing websites, lead management, email marketing, marketing automation, analytics, free education and 24/7 support. Founded in 2011 by Matthew Barba, a former real estate agent, and Frederick Townes, a seasoned technologist, the Placester platform enables real estate professionals to grow their businesses online and via mobile through seamless MLS integration, natural language search and eye-catching visuals. In addition, Placester offers a wide range of apps and add-ons for high-impact email marketing, digital advertising campaigns, lead management and streamlining of everyday tasks.

Currently serving two in five real estate professionals in the U.S., Placester is a proud technology partner to leading real estate brands across North America, and the sole website provider for the Realtor Benefits® Program, the official member benefits program of the National Association of Realtors®. To date, Placester has raised $100 million in funding, backed by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Romulus Capital and Techstars. For more information, please visit placester.com.

About the National Association of Realtors®

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

The Realtor Benefits® Program is the association’s official member benefits program, connecting members with savings and unique offers on products and services just for Realtors® from more than 30 companies recognized as leaders in their respective industries.