Guaranteed Rate Affinity brings back Jon Altizer

Residential mortgage company Guaranteed Rate Affinity, a partnership created between Realogy and Guaranteed Rate, announced Friday the hiring of Jon Altizer as senior vice president of mortgage lending.

Altizer has previously worked at Guaranteed Rate for nine years. He has 20 years of mortgage lending experience.

“It’s great to have him back,” said Guaranteed Rate Founder and CEO Victor Ciardelli. “Jon has built such strong relationships with his customers and referral partners here in Chicago and throughout the Midwest, and I look forward to seeing how he can build on that momentum as a part of our platform.”

After he left Guaranteed Rate in 2017, Altizer was a senior loan officer at Compass Mortgage and after that was an originating branch manager at CrossCountry Mortgage.

Altizer has funded over $1 billion in loan volume throughout his career.

“I’m excited to return to the Guaranteed Rate family and work with Victor and the leadership team at Guaranteed Rate Affinity,” said Altizer. “With this platform and the amazing support of my team, I’m looking forward to super-charging our production and building business collaboratively with agents throughout the Midwest.”

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Starter homes may be making a comeback

A survey by the National Association of Homebuilders this fall revealed that 80% of American households now believe the nation is suffering from a housing affordability crisis. 

Even more recent, a report last week by the National Association of Realtors revealed that more than 30% of first-time homebuyers used down payment help from family and friends.

Across the housing industry, experts are pointing to new inventory concerns. Economic research consultancy Capital Economics echoed these sentiments in its latest report.

“With volumes low, builders have concentrated on more expensive, higher-margin homes,” the report stated. “By the end of 2017, just 40% of new homes sold for under $300,000. That compares to a share of around 65% in early 2007, when overall house prices were only 7% lower.”

But change may be on the horizon. Economists at Capital Economics are anticipating a rise in new homes sold for under $300,000, from under 50% currently to about 55% by the end of 2020. According to the report, this would boost overall housing starts to 950,000 annualized.

“Tight supply of affordable homes, and a relatively large increase in their price, are encouraging builders back to the starter home sector,” the report said.

However, the report goes on to add, “a slowing economy and tighter credit conditions rule out a substantial shift to cheaper homes.”

For first-time homebuyers, this would be a welcome change. As Millennials continue to enter the housing market and Gen Z joins as well, the lack of affordable homes has been a strain on their homebuying prospects. With both generations battling an unprecedented amount of student loan debt, a comeback in starter homes would create a better chance at homeownership. 

“Admittedly, credit conditions have seen some mild tightening over the past year,” the report states. “But they are a lot more favorable compared to the post-crisis environment. Furthermore, tight supply conditions have led to relatively larger price gains for cheaper homes.”

Of course, a cheaper home could mean sacrificing some square footage.  

“Indeed, new homes have been getting smaller,” Capital Economics reported. “At 2,245 sq.ft. in the second quarter, median floor space for new SF homes was at its lowest since early 2011. Admittedly, smaller homes can be built in costly areas. But the share of new homes sold for under $300,000 hit a three-year high in September. 

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Multifamily rents gain 3.2%

Multifamily rent growth remained positive in October, a new report from YardiMatrix said.

Multifamily rent increased by just $1, to $1,476. Year over year rent growth remained at 3.2%.

(Image courtesy of RentCafe. Click to enlarge.)

Of the 30 major markets covered in the report, 17 saw year-over-year rent growth of at least 3.3%. San Jose and Houston remained below the 2.5% long-term average.

Although the multifamily market boasts positive results, three states had bills passed to limit rent growth.

Rent control affects the multifamily sector because it puts a chill on development during a period of low housing stock, YardiMatrix said.

Although rent has topped historical growth levels, occupancy rates still remain strong.

According to RealPage, this year was the second-highest apartment leasing season ever, with 281,800 units rented. The highest leasing season was in 1997 during the tech boom.

In the third quarter this year, multifamily vacancies fell to 3.6%.

RentCafe found that in the 260 large cities it analyzed, 1% of them experienced a decrease in apartment rates since last month and 4% have seen increases, while monthly rents generally flatlined in the remaining 95%.

Essentially, renting in 65% of the cities are below the national average, while the remaining 35% are above $1,476, RentCafe said.

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AOC and Bernie Sanders reveal green housing plan

Green New Deal policies and housing policies are beginning to merge.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), announced yesterday the launch of their “Green New Deal for Public Housing.”

This bill promises $180 billion over 10 years to cut carbon dioxide emissions from public housing across the country.

According to CNBC, roughly 40% of total U.S. energy consumption comes from residential and commercial buildings. The legislation could reduce public housing costs by $97 million per year and cut energy costs by $613 million.

“Representative Ocasio-Cortez introduced the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act to establish a prosperous society that provides affordable and modern housing for all,” according to Ocasio-Cortez’s website.

“This legislation serves to train and mobilize the workforce to decarbonize the public housing stock and improve the quality of life for all. It is time that our government invests in our infrastructure, our people, and our future.”

With this promise, solar panels will be added to public housing units as well as other renewable energy resources.

The bill will establish seven federal grant programs to public housing authorities to rehabilitate, upgrade, innovate and transition public housing into zero-carbon homes.

Earlier this year, Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), revealed a Green New Deal resolution, targeting climate change itself.

Sen Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is also a co-sponsor of the housing legislation.

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Minority homeownership gains on low mortgage rates

Mortgage rates near three-year low are helping to boost homeownership rates for black and Hispanic Americans, the National Association of Home Builders said in a blog post on Friday.

The minority homeownership rate rose to 48.3% in the third quarter, up almost a percentage point from a year earlier, the post said. The 0.9% gain was higher than the 0.4% increase in the overall U.S. homeownership rate, which rose to 64.8%.

“Lower mortgage rates (at a three-year low) and a healthy job market have helped to make homeownership more affordable,” the post said. “These factors are most likely contributing to the recent upticks in the overall and minority homeownership rates.”

The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage declined every month of 2019 until ticking up eight basis points in October. The average was 3.69% last month, rising from a three-year low of 3.61% in September, according to Freddie Mac data. The higher rate seen in October is still more than a percentage point below the 4.83% in October 2018.

Breaking down the minority homeownership rate, the Hispanic rate gained the most in the third quarter, with a 1.6 percentage point increase to 47.9%, NAHB said.

The black homeownership rate posted the second-largest gain, up 0.8 percentage point to 43.3%. It was the largest gain in the black homeownership rate since the third quarter of 2017.

“It is important to note that this quarter’s gain stands in contrast to five out of the six prior quarters, going back to the 1st quarter of 2018, which were marked by significant declines in the black homeownership rate,” NAHB said.

The rate for black Americans fell to 40.6% in 2019’s second quarter, the lowest level ever recorded in the Census Bureau’s quarterly data going back to 1994. It was the lowest rate for black households since the 1950 decennial Census when it was 34.5%.

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Shopping around for a mortgage really paid off for borrowers last week

Mortgage borrowers who
shopped around last week could’ve saved $48,911 on the life of a $300,000 loan,
according to LendingTree‘s Mortgage Rate Competition
Index.

The index measures the spread in the APR of the best
offers available on its website. LendingTree derives that savings claim by
comparing the amount a borrower would pay out of over the life of a loan at the
lowest available interest rate on its site versus the highest
available interest rate.

According to the company’s data, although the share of borrowers that received rates under 4% moderately edged down from last week, nearly 50% of borrowers received rates under 4%, with the index growing to 1.03 for the week ending Nov. 10, 2019. 

LendingTree indicates that for 30-year fixed-rate
mortgages, 48.2% of purchase borrowers received offers under 4%, falling from 53.5%
the previous week.

Despite the decline, the percentage is still a significant increase from 2018, when virtually no purchase offers were under 4%.

Additionally, the report highlights that across all
30-year, fixed-rate purchase mortgage applications made on LendingTree’s site, 13.1%
of borrowers were offered an interest rate of 3.75%, making it the most common
interest rate.

When it comes to 30-year
fixed-rate refinance borrowers, 48.6% received offers under 4%, retreating from
54.7% one week prior. Nevertheless, the rate is still much higher than it was
in 2018 when 0% of refinance offers were under 4%.

So, with a wider refinance
market index of 1.17, the typical refinance borrowers could have saved $55,868 by
shopping around for the lowest rate.

According to the report, across all 30-year, fixed-rate
refinance applications, the most common interest rate was 4%. This rate
was offered to about 15.5% of borrowers.

This image highlights the distribution of last week’s
mortgage fees:

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Keller Williams to expand its iBuyer program

Back in April, Keller
Williams
announced it would begin buying and selling houses. Now it’s
expanding that program.

Following a path previously laid out by the likes of real
estate search engines Zillow and Redfin, and taking a page out of the playbook of iBuyer
platforms OpendoorOfferpad, and others, real estate agency Keller Williams began its own iBuyer program.

Now, Keller Williams
announced it will launch its iBuyer program in Birmingham, Alabama, through its
partnership with Offerpad early in the first quarter of 2020.

“Our agents are excited and ready to meet the demands of
consumers in Birmingham with our robust iBuyer offering,” said Gayln Ziegler, Keller
Offers director of operations. “And, this launch is the start of the next phase
in our expansion. This partnership enables us to provide an iBuyer offering to
more consumers, in more market sizes.”

The expansion of KW’s business model is the latest in a
series of moves meant to transform the company from a traditional real estate
brokerage into a more technologically advanced one.

That transformation was touted by the company’s co-founder,
Gary Keller, when he returned to the company as CEO earlier this year.

Last year, the company acquired startup SmarterAgent, which
allows agents to create their own branded apps, and has a platform that
connects more than 650 multiple listing services. 

Keller Offers and Offerpad’s partnership is now operational,
or will be fully within weeks, in Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston,
Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Antonio, Tampa and Tucson.

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Freddie Mac prepares to transfer risk on $2.3 billion in re-performing loans

Freddie Mac announced the pricing of its fourth seasoned
credit risk transfer trust offering in 2019, a securitization of about $2.3
billion.

The pool is made up of about $2.1 billion in guaranteed
senior and about $229 million in unguaranteed subordinate securities backed by
a pool of seasoned re-performing loans.

The SCRT securitization program is a fundamental part of
Freddie Mac’s seasoned loan offerings which reduce less liquid assets in its
mortgage-related investments portfolio and sheds credit and market risk via
economically reasonable transactions.

The transaction is expected to settle on November 14, 2019.
The underlying collateral consists of 12,347 fixed- and step-rate, seasoned
RPLs which were modified to assist borrowers who were at risk of foreclosure to
help them keep their homes. As of the cutoff date, all the mortgage loans have
been performing for at least 12 months.

The loans are serviced by Select Portfolio Servicing, and will be serviced under Freddie Mac’s
requirements that prioritize borrower retention options in the event of
default.

Advisors to this transaction include Wells Fargo Securities and Citigroup
Global Markets
as co-lead managers and joint bookrunners, and Bank of America Securities, Nomura Securities International, JPMorgan Securities and Samuel A. Ramirez & Company as the
co-managers.

This brings Freddie Mac’s risk transfer to $8 billion in non-performing
loans and securitized about $57 billion in re-performing loans.

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MoxiWorks acquires marketing automation services company Imprev

Real estate technology firm MoxiWorks announced this week that it has acquired a fellow real estate tech company, Imprev.

As a provider of real estate marketing automation services, Imprev has represented over 20% of real estate agents in North America, according to the company. Its service automates the creation of digital, social media and print marketing materials throughout the lifecycle of a brokerage’s listings. Now acquired by MoxiWorks, the company’s automation will be added to MoxiWorks’ sphere-based CRM, MoxiEngage.

“This unique partnership is highly strategic and benefits Imprev and MoxiWorks’ employees, and most importantly, our collective customers,” said York Baur, CEO of MoxiWorks. “It is in the truest sense, a win-win for everyone.”

According to the announcement, the addition of Imprev furthers MoxiWorks’ mission to become the premier open platform for the entire real estate industry.

“Imprev has always put brokers and agents first. Our focus on customers has been the key to Imprev’s success and was an absolute requirement when selecting the team to take Imprev into the future,” said Renwick Congdon, founder and CEO of Imprev. “In MoxiWorks we found the same entrepreneurial and customer-centric DNA as Imprev and we look forward to seeing our technology continue to scale with the full support of MoxiWorks and Vector Capital.”

This announcement was also made shortly after MoxiWorks’ recent addition of Vector Capital as a “significant financial investor.” Robert Amen, managing director of Vector Capital, shared his thoughts on the Imprev acquisition. 

“We are pleased to support MoxiWorks’ acquisition of Imprev as it continues its relentless focus on its customers, client satisfaction, and deep, cross-industry relationships,” he said. “Imprev enhances MoxiWorks’ technology and product offering and furthers the company’s ongoing mission to make real estate technology more automated.”

Through the acquisition, MoxiWorks is bringing on every Imprev employee, the company said. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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U.S. Bank names new corporate controller

U.S. Bank named Lisa Stark as its new corporate controller in an announcement on Thursday.

“Lisa is a dedicated professional who understands financial services and embodies our core values,” said Terry Dolan, vice chairman and chief financial officer of U.S. Bank. “She has contributed significantly to our success during the past 11 years, most recently serving as our assistant controller, and we are pleased she has accepted this new leadership opportunity.”

Stark has been with the company since 2008, and has served in the role of assistant controller. Prior to joining U.S. Bank, she spent a decade at the firm of LarsonAllen, achieving the rank of principal. In all, she brings over 20 years of financial services experience to the role. 

Craig Gifford, her predecessor in the role, served as controller since 2010. According to U.S. Bank, in his new role as executive vice president of infrastructure operations, he will oversee corporate real estate, procurement, physical assets, insurance and emerging market strategy.

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