1.4 million homes have accessory dwelling units, Freddie Mac says

Guest home, granny flats and mother-in-law suites are more commonly used terms for accessory dwelling units in the U.S., which have grown in demand exponentially since the 1950s.

According to research from Freddie Mac, there are 1.4 million single-family properties with ADUs. They were identified using a national-level dataset of 600 million Multiple Listing Service transactions dating back to the late 1990s, the report said.

California, Florida, Texas and Georgia account for half of the 1.4 million ADUs in the U.S., according to Freddie Mac.

Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, said there has been an increasing number of ADUs in the Portland, Oregon; Dallas; Seattle; Los Angeles; and Miami metro areas, with each market seeing double-digit growth since 2015.

“The nation’s affordable housing crisis has intensified in this turbulent economic environment, and ADUs are increasingly providing a viable affordable housing option for people of all ages,” Khater said in a statement. “This analysis is both unique and large in scale, giving us insight into the growing movement of accessory dwelling units.”

In 2019, 70,000 properties with ADUs were sold, which represent 4.2% of total homes sold on MLS. To compare, only 1.1%, or 8,000 properties, were sold with ADUs in 2000.

Between 2009 and 2019, the number of first-time listings of ADUs grew an average of 8.6% year over year, Freddie Mac said.

Meanwhile, the number of actively listed ADUs for rent increased from 2003 to 2019, from 1.8% to 4.1%, respectively, while the number of leased rental listings increased from 1.2% to 2.9%, respectively.

There were 8,000 ADUs leased in 2019, representing 2.9% of homes leased via MLS. Freddie Mac said these homeowners most likely used their extra space as another form of income.

Of course, the report is only looking at permitted ADUs.

Freddie Mac noted that “shadow housing,” or ADUs that aren’t legally accounted for, aren’t included in the report. This is because ADUs require building permits from respective local city permit offices, and depending on the location, ADUs might not be allowed.

In fact, the survey found three neighborhoods in Los Angeles with high numbers of foreclosures in which 34% to 80% of single-family housing units in these areas were likely to have illegal ADUs. Meanwhile, in 2011, researchers surveyed homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area and found that more than 90% of secondary units didn’t have required building permits.

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Senate committee approves Trump advisor Judy Shelton for Fed board

Judy Shelton, the controversial nominee to an empty seat on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, won narrow approval on Tuesday in a Senate Banking Committee vote. She now advances to consideration by the full Senate.

Shelton, a Fed critic who has advocated for greater coordination between the White House and the central bank that sets the nation’s monetary policy, was an advisor to the campaign of President Donald Trump in 2016. For decades she has advocated for a return to the gold standard, putting her far outside the mainstream of American economists.

The Fed, so far impervious to Trump’s attempts to influence monetary policy, has provided steady support to the economy as the worst public health crisis in more than a century – the COVID-19 pandemic – caused the steepest recession since the Great Depression.

Among other actions, Chairman Jerome Powell announced in March the central bank would start buying Treasuries and mortgage-backed bonds to support the housing finance system. The purchases have driven home-loan interest rates to a series of new lows including last week when the average rate fell below 3% for the first time.

“Amid the chaos of the Trump administration, the U.S. Federal Reserve has stood out as an island of professionalism,” Bloomberg said in an editorial published before the Senate vote. “If the Senate Banking Committee wants to keep it that way, it should think twice before confirming Judy Shelton’s nomination to the Fed’s Board of Governors.”

Shelton has written dozens of books and articles over three decades advocating positions such as a return to the gold standard, a monetary policy abandoned by the U.S. almost five decades ago.

She was opposed to monetary easing in the years after the Great Recession, when President Barack Obama was in the White House, then reversed course and called for reductions when Trump began demanding the Fed cut rates to below zero last year.

After Trump nominated her in July, Shelton advocated for policy coordination between the Fed and the White House, which would break a decades-long tradition of Fed independence that economists credit with keeping inflation – and mortgage rates – near historic lows.

“It would be in keeping with its historical mandate if the Fed were to pursue a more coordinated relationship with both Congress and the president,” she wrote in a Wall Street Journal column on Sept. 16.

The Senate committee also voted to approve a second Trump nominee to the Fed, Christopher Waller, the director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Waller had broad support on the committee.

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Mortgage lending set to top $3 trillion as mortgage rates tumble


Mortgage lending is set to reach $3.14 trillion this year, the highest since 2003, as the annual average rate for a 30-year fixed home loan falls to a record low of 3.2%, according to Doug Duncan, chief economist of Fannie Mae. Next year, rates are heading even lower, he said.

In 2021, the annual average rate probably will fall to 2.8%, said Duncan, who spoke to HousingWire via a video conference call on Monday in an exclusive interview. That would be the lowest ever recorded.

Duncan said his forecast is based on the open-ended commitment by the Federal Reserve to purchase $40 billion a month in mortgage-backed securities, coupled with the expectations that “margins” – meaning the difference in the yields for 10-year Treasury yield and mortgage bonds – will continue to shrink as the lending industry adjusts to doing business amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mortgage rates are set by bond investors who decide what yield, or return on investment, they’re willing to accept. Market-watchers compare rates between long-term Treasuries and MBS to see what kind of “risk premium” lenders are adding, meaning a buffer to protect profits in case some loans go bad or other problems arise.

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First Guaranty Mortgage plans to hire for more than 150 positions

Mortgage lender First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation and its dba Goodmortgage is looking to hire more than 150 people for its retail, wholesale, correspondent, non-delegated and shared services teams.

FGMC is opening positions in its Texas, Nevada, New Jersey, Maryland and North Carolina offices – with some positions being fully remote. The company also plans to open an Arizona branch in the future.

Current opportunities include underwriters, correspondent loan analysts, retail closers, risk analysts, mortgage loan originators and wholesale funders among many others. Positions vary from entry level to senior level management with deeper roots in the industry.

“The biggest benefit to working with FGMC and Goodmortgage is our culture,” said Sarah Gonzalez, COO of FGMC. “We call ourselves ‘Mortgage Mavericks,’ meaning that we think outside the box, act with integrity, and put our people (employees, partners, borrowers) first always.”

Recently the company launched Pulse, an “employee experience initiative” that includes a partnership with CASA, paid time off to volunteer, a speaker series, career development conversations, and a Pulse council that is made up of employees who will assist in idea generation for brand initiatives and service-level growth.

All of the wholesale, correspondent, non-delegated, and shared services positions are eligible for permanent remote work. However, retail sales positions are tied to a physical branch location for licensing purposes.

To apply to be part of the First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation team, interested individuals can send their resume to careers@fgmc.com or click here to apply online.

HousingJobs is a curation of housing companies that are hiring. If you are looking for a job in the industry, check out our hiring stories here. If you’re an executive at a housing company and you’re hiring, please send a note to our Chief Product Officer Diego Sanchez at dsanchez@housingwire.com.

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ActivePipe releases property match software for real estate agents

ActivePipe has launched SmartMatch, a property match software that can be utilized by real estate agents in reaching home shoppers and renters. The solution’s algorithm combines ActivePipe’s proprietary insights with its client preferences to surface property matches ranked by relevance, the company said in its release.

In an interview with HousingWire, ActivePipe Chief Revenue Officer Mike Feller said that the company works behind the scenes to make the agents’ job easier. The addition of SmartMatch to ActivePipe’s platform was the result of constantly innovating and updating the application.

“When we look at the key in email, and really any kind of messaging, it’s all about relevance,” Feller continued. “You’re providing content that people really care about in the end recipient. It matches their interests or their preferences [and] that is so critical to being successful in this particular channel and it sounds so simple, but it’s really hard to execute against it.”

For example, the ActivePipe user builds an email template, and customization occurs when ActivePipe analyzes each contact based on previous email interactions, preferences and survey results.

With this data comes a profile of the user’s client. When the user turns on the SmartMatch option, ActivePipe automatically fills in the most relevant listings for each contact the email is sent to, essentially decluttering and honing in on more specific options.

“I think the way we have taken something that is very complex and very hard to do, and just making it super simple, again it goes back to empowerment, and really helping agents be much more efficient and effective in what they do,” Feller said.

ActivePipe has also recently announced a new feature that displays individual users’ technology integrations, allowing users to see their integrated tech vendors and the last time they synced, the company said.

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Home insurance tech startup Hippo raises $150 million at $1.5 billion valuation

This article was written for FinLedger, HW Media’s new fintech-focused news brand designed specifically for financial services professionals in banking, insurance and real estate. Stay tuned for updates.

Hippo, an insurtech startup focused on providing home insurance digitally, announced this morning a massive $150 million Series E round at a post-money valuation of $1.5 billion.

With the latest round, the Palo Alto-based company has now raised a total of $359 million since its 2015 inception. Hippo reached unicorn status ($1 billion valuation) in July 2019 with a $100 million Series D fundraise.

The latest financing was oversubscribed and included participation from new investors FinTLV, Ribbit Capital, Dragoneer and Innovius Capital, as well as “significant” participation from existing backers, according to the company.

In the past 12 months, Hippo said it has grown its total written premiums by 140% year over year to $270 million. CEO and Co-founder Assaf Wand told Bloomberg that the company is currently on track to reach over $100 million in revenue in the next year. 

Hippo began selling its policies to homeowners in 2017. It initially rolled out in California and now claims to be available to more than 70% of U.S. homeowners across 29 states. The company has since expanded its product portfolio with products for landlords, available in nearly 15 states, and a product for new construction, which is available in 12 states.

The company said it experienced a 60% year-over-year increase in sales in the second quarter “as homeowners shelter in place and find new ways to use their properties.” Over the past five months, its home maintenance group, Hippo Home Care, has provided free virtual tele-maintenance services.

The startup said it plans to use its new capital mainly to accelerate its expansion, with the goal of reaching 95% of the U.S. homeowner population in the next 12 months. That will include “aggressive” hiring, investing in its technology and to support Hippo’s proposed acquisition of an unnamed national insurance carrier. 

Besides its Palo Alto headquarters, Hippo also has offices in Austin and Dallas. It plans to add 100 employees in 2020 with plans to build a new campus in Austin, Texas. Construction of the facility, which will hold up to 310 Hippo employees when it opens next year, is underway.

Hippo differentiates itself from other home insurers, it says, by providing “more accurate and affordable coverage by using technology and data integrations to develop a unique profile of a customer’s property during the onboarding process.” The company actively reviews changes to a customer’s property over time, using thermal and satellite imagery and layers in AI, machine learning and public records.

Hippo also has a smart home program, which offers eligible customers complimentary smart home devices at sign-up. The company says it has delivered more than 400,000 devices to date and helps alert homeowners to potential issues such as water leaks. When things do go wrong, Hippo says its claim process “leverages highly vetted contractors.”

Gil Arazi, founder and managing partner of insurtech-focused VC fund FinTLV, believes Hippo has transformed the home insurance experience with its proprietary underwriting technology and “delightfully refreshing customer experience.”

“The value Hippo provides for consumers and the strides it has made towards the larger progression of the P&C insurance sector makes it the most compelling technology insurance company of its time,” he said in a written statement.

Hippo has been a HousingWire Tech100 winner from 2018 to 2020. We covered previous funding rounds here and here.

Hippo allows homeowners to get a quote and purchase home insurance online in 60 seconds or less, save up to 25% compared to traditional insurers, and obtain “smarter coverage for modern households,” according to the company.

It also offers direct integrations into loan origination systems and point of sale systems to allow borrowers to obtain homeowners insurance as part of the mortgage process.

No doubt the insurtech space is a hot one. Earlier this year, digital insurance startup Lemonade went public, with shares soaring more than 136% in the company’s market debut.

Lemonade is licensed as a property and casualty insurance carrier, and began offering homeowners and renters’ insurance in New York in late 2016. That offering is now available for most of the U.S. population. The company says it powers its offerings with artificial intelligence and “behavioral economics.”

Lemonade claims it’s built a system that “collects 100x more data than traditional carriers,” giving it the ability to generate predictive data that it says can help improve underwriting and pricing.

Are you a financial services professional hungry for better fintech news and info? HW Media is proud to introduce FinLedger, a fintech media brand that will cover the critical news impacting financial services professionals — from SaaS to big data, and cybersecurity to regtech. Want to be notified when we launch? Enter your email here and follow us on Twitter.

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How Top Agents Are Using Video Emails to Convert Real Estate Leads

With so much of our day-to-day business moving to digital interfaces, your prospects are being inundated with communications, and you’re looking for new ways to stand out. You’ve probably leveraged video in your marketing at some point, but now, more than ever, it’s a critical tool to deliver some much needed “face time,”  humanize your marketing message and really connect with your prospects.


Adding video to your emails can seriously boost your results too. According to BombBomb, the industry’s leading video platform, have some compelling stats on agents who incorporate videos into their marketing:


81% get more replies
68% convert more leads
56% report more referrals


In the BoomTown CRM, BombBomb’s video email technology is seamlessly integrated so users can create video campaigns, add videos to drip plans, and use the tool to build trust, convert leads, and get referrals by getting “face-to-face” more often.


There’s more than just email messages though. We talked to two of our video veteran clients and gathered their must-have video strategies to add a (safe and virtual) personal touch in this new normal


Offer a Variety of Video Content


Kyle Whissel, of Whissel Realty in San Diego, California, is no rookie when it comes to real estate video marketing. He was even named BombBomb’s #1 Video Influencer. Don’t get stuck in a rut of video content. It doesn’t have to be limited to staring into a camera and talking through your listings. Kyle likes to work with a variety of video content, covering everything from market reports, educational content, and thorough listing videos, to less sales-y topics like local events and engaging community videos. This makes for some serious impact and reach.


Here’s a snapshot of Kyle’s video stats to-date:


• 600+ YouTube videos
• 338K+ YouTube views
• 3.6K+ Subscribers

Deliver branded real estate videos for consistency and engagement


From your company colors and logo, to your team culture and individual personality, it’s important to highlight these key differentiators so your viewers recognize your style, service, and value. Kyle has a high-energy style, and appears in nearly every video. That’s some serious face-time! Viewers feel like they know him, they laugh and learn with him, and they build a relationship with him without ever actually meeting him in-person.


Some of his most popular videos are from his “Community Series.” This is one of his branded video series that is tailored to his community, highlighting neighborhoods, events and happenings that people want to know about. It keeps viewers connected, and it highlights his expert, neighborly know-how.


It’s also a prospecting gold mine. And, with its own hashtag, it’s easy for prospects and potential buyers and sellers to follow along and join in on the conversation.


Kyle also has a live show/podcast every Wednesday (#WhisselWednesdays) that are educational in their approach. For example, he offered a tour of smart home technology and walked viewers through the latest bells and whistles in the “connected home.” These helpful, general interest pieces are wonderful for building up an audience (read: database) and keeping them engaged with helpful and interesting content.

Liven up data and market updates with personal real estate video emails


His video marketing emails through BombBomb are usually simple, quick shots of him updating prospects on the housing market, sharing his own personal insights, and leveraging valuable information to connect with buyers, sellers, and past clients in a more personal way. (He’s recorded and sent over 100 video emails through BombBomb!).

Get the whole team involved in real estate videos


Ann Rudd, of the Ann Rudd Group in Charlotte, NC gets her whole team in on the fun. Even when team members get nervous at putting themselves on screen. It can nerve-wracking to put yourself out there at first, but Ann has some advice:


“Just screw it and do it.”


So far it’s worked to motivate the team. They regularly incorporate video messages into their email campaigns. It’s a fresher way to present information and really drums up rapport between agents and prospects with the face-to-face experience so many of us are lacking right now.


Here are some of their tips to get the best results:

  • Don’t Shoot Vertically – We live in a widescreen world — from laptops to social media sites — so turn your smartphone on its side and start filming.
  • Leverage Good Lighting — The wrong light can cast shadows on your face. If the lighting in your office isn’t great, try facing a window and use the sun to gather some natural light.
  • Speak with Energy — People naturally respond more when the person talking is enthusiastic. The emotion is contagious, in a sense.
  • Minimize the “Ums” — Whenever we pause and think about something we say, “Um….” or “Uh…” or even “You know…” Eliminating this filler text as much as possible will make your video go smoother (and not cause disruption in the viewer’s mind).
  • Film for a Headshot — Viewers don’t need to see all of you. But you also shouldn’t get too close to the camera.  Angle the shot to show a little bit of your upper torso and your face.

Deliver a personal touch with quick, custom real estate video emails for prospects


Ann also encourages the team to create quick and easy video messages that are tailored to specific people and groups. It takes that personal face-to-fact approach even further. After a few sends, her team even finds these quick video messages simpler than drafting and proofing a lengthy email message. Not to mention it’s a more personal experience that they their prospects and clients can still digest on their own time. A win-win for the consumer experience.


Ann had an online lead come in this week in her typical price range. They began a text conversation, and set a phone appointment for later on. “I ended the conversation by asking them what type of information they’d like me to gather. Once I had the info, I sent them a BombBomb video through BoomTown that answered all their questions.”

Track and measure your real estate video engagement, tweak where needed

When video messages are integrated with your CRM, there’s no guesswork when it comes to tracking follow up and engagement. Ann saw that her prospect viewed her video 35 times. (We think this story will probably end happily.) The team monitors video performance and plans their marketing accordingly.



Just starting a video marketing strategy?

  • Try different topics and content forms and track their performance religiously
  • See what types of videos are resonating with prospects (and do more of that!) and keep an eye out for things that may not be working well with your team or your particular market
  • Once you find a sweet spot, leverage branding and consistency (a hashtag, a dedicated day/time, appearance in a newsletter, etc.) to build your following

Leverage your CRM to integrate your real estate video emails


The right technology and marketing tools make creating new content and seeing what works a breeze. Make sure you have tools that let you leverage videos in your email marketing campaigns, drip plans, and bulk emails.  With BoomTown’s BombBomb integration, you can even record a new video directly from the CRM that can be used in any way you choose (drop it in an email, text from the mobile app, share on social media, etc.). And most importantly, the data is housed in one system, served up in clear reports, so you can make better decisions based on real insights. Cheers to more virtual tools that help connect us, and putting a face to your brand.


The post How Top Agents Are Using Video Emails to Convert Real Estate Leads appeared first on BoomTown!.

Forbearance rate drops to 2-month low

The forbearance rate of mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dropped to a three-month low of 5.64%, while the overall rate fell to 7.8%, the lowest in more than two months, the Mortgage Bankers Association said in a report on Monday.

The forbearance rate for mortgages backed by the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, fell 43 basis points as of July 12 from the prior week, the biggest decline since MBA started tracking it. The rate for all mortgages fell 38 basis points from 8.18%, the report said.

“This is the biggest improvement in the data since the crisis began,” said Jaret Seiberg, managing director of Cowen Washington Research Group. “The trajectory is for continued improvement.”

The forbearance rate for loans in Ginnie Mae securities – meaning, mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the Veterans Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture – fell 30 basis points to 10.26%. The forbearance share for private-label mortgages that aren’t backed by the government decreased 52 basis points to 10.41%, the report said.

New requests from borrowers for permission to suspend their mortgage payments, measured as a share of serving portfolios, was flat with the prior week at 0.13%, said Mike Fratantoni, MBA’s chief economist.

A spike in new COVID-19 infections, primarily in southern states, may change that, he said. In addition, the $600 a week enhancement to unemployment benefits aimed at fully replacing the salaries of people who lost jobs because of the pandemic is slated to expire within weeks, and the Senate is just beginning to consider an extension approved by the House of Representatives in May.

“The pace of new forbearance requests remains quite low compared to earlier in the crisis, but we are watching carefully for any increases due to either the pick-up in COVID-19 cases or the cessation of enhanced unemployment insurance benefits at the end of this month,” Fratantoni said.

There’s been a pick-up in calls to mortgage servicers from borrowers, the MBA report said. Measured as a percent of servicing portfolio volume, calls increased to 8.3% from 7.8% while the average call length grew to 7.6 minutes from 7.4 minutes.

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It’s done! Quicken and Amrock complete the first Remote Online Notarization in North Carolina

North Carolina’s first-ever Remote Online Notarization mortgage was completed on Friday through the combined efforts of Quicken Loans, Amrock, and real estate law firm Brady & Kosofsky. After North Carolina’s recent passage of the Emergency Video Notarization bill, the state moved forward with the extension of RONs.

“The passage of the temporary Emergency Video Notarization law was paramount to ensuring vital real estate and business transactions could move forward, while also considering the health and safety of all involved,” said Elaine Marshal, secretary of state for North Carolina. “I commend Quicken Loans and Amrock for taking this major step forward here in North Carolina.”

Jaime Kosofsky, partner and executive vice president of business development and compliance for Brady & Kosofsky, and the closing agent on the loan, stated the bill’s passage did not come easily.

Kosofsky, who also sits on the North Carolina Department of Secretary of State eClosing Advisory Board, said together with the North Carolina Association of Realtors, the Land Title Association, the state’s Chamber of Commerce and the Mortgage Bankers of the Carolinas, a push for an executive order was pushed back by the governor, who insisted that it be a statute instead.

“Finally, I feel like we were all on the same page and Secretary Marshall actually gave us no resistance whatsoever. Because she felt that this is what North Carolina needed right now. It was getting dangerous, but we were able to do it, and it worked out great,” Kosofsky said.

In 2019, Quicken Loans became the first mortgage lender to offer eClosings in all 50 states, however, RON legislation varies across the country as some orders call for temporary relief to in-person notarizations while others are permanently enacted.

North Carolina’s first RON eClosing was completed for a Quicken Loans team member living in Asheville.

“RON is a convenience in normal circumstances, but it has become a necessity in these unprecedented times of social distancing as we focus on our clients’ health and safety,” said Jay Farner, CEO of Quicken Loans. “Pioneering this technology in North Carolina was a priority for Rocket Mortgage. We are consistently driving digital solutions to antiquated problems and we continue our mission to have RON adopted in all 50 states.”

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