Freddie Mac: Mortgage rates hold steady amid economic uncertainty

This week, the average U.S. fixed rate for a 30-year mortgage came in at 3.68%. Although this rate is left unchanged from last week’s percentage, it’s still more than a percentage point below the 4.75% of the year-earlier week, according to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey.

“This week the economy sent mixed signals, leaving mortgage rates unchanged,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Survey data for manufacturing and service industries varied while construction spending fell modestly. However, homebuyer demand continued to improve, rising 8%. Clearly homebuyers remain bullish on the real estate market.”

The 15-year FRM averaged 3.14% this week, slightly retreating from last week’s 3.15%. This time last year, the 15-year FRM came in at 4.21%.

The five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 3.39%, falling from last week’s rate of 3.43%. Last year, the 5-year ARM was much higher at 4.07%.

The image below highlights this week’s changes:

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Dec. 5: Ops, LO jobs; workflow, webinar, just-missed products; random vendor news; rates steady

In the lending world, folks are talking about the change in FHA loan levels. Economists and investors have their eye on debt. Have a balance on your credit card? Or a mortgage, or car loan? You’re not alone. Federal, corporate and household debt worldwide stands at an unprecedented $250 trillion, nearly three times the volume of economic output. (To keep things in perspective, if you paid $1 million a year to reduce that, it would take 250 million years, not including accrued interest.) Does anyone care? Some economists say borrowing should increase and debt is not a problem as long as it remains sustainable, while others say the effectiveness of monetary policy will be curtailed if a crisis occurs. Fortunately in MBS land, US mortgage delinquencies have fallen to near 25-year lows. Hopefully home buyers don’t want to go through “that” again. More below on borrowers making payments.

Jobs

American National Bank of Texas, a $3 billion community bank in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, is expanding its mortgage department and is looking for a seasoned, dynamic Vice President of Mortgage Operations Manager. “This position will lead our mortgage operations team of processors, closers and underwriters, ensure regulatory compliance and partner with our production team to grow and expand the mortgage business. All interested, qualified candidates can review the job posting here and complete an online application. You can also email resumes to Rusty Beard. ANBTX is an equal opportunity employer.

“Congratulations to Tim Elkins, Chief Production Officer for PrimeLending, on receiving a prestigious Vanguard Award from HousingWire. The Vanguard is reserved for true industry trailblazers who are raising the bar with their outstanding accomplishments. This certainly defines Tim, who’s been leading the charge on modernizing PrimeLending’s digital mortgage experience since joining the company more than 10 years ago. With a forward-thinking mindset, Tim knows how to identify opportunities and deliver solutions that make enterprise-wide impacts. Backed by best-in-class Sales, Marketing and Technology departments, Tim and the PrimeLending team are collaborating to evolve the retail sales model by introducing better tools and more innovative solutions. An inspiring champion for the company’s award-winning culture, Tim epitomizes the high standards of the Vanguard Award. Interested in working for a company that’s focused on the future? The first step is a confidential conversation with one of our expert recruiters. Call 855-921-0112 to get started.”

Lender products, services, and webinars

This holiday season, TMS is putting the CARE in CAREspondent Lending. For every new lender that partners with TMS before the end of the year, TMS will donate $250 to Family Reach— a national non-profit dedicated to alleviating the financial burden of cancer. You can sign up here today!

“As the holidays approach, many lenders are putting the finishing touches on their planning for another high-volume year in 2020. We at LodeStar Software Solutions are hearing from our friends across the industry that this will not be the year for big ticket tech investment. Instead, lenders (and their partners) will be making sure all of their production and origination solutions work seamlessly together. That’s always been LodeStar’s focus in delivering an affordable TRID-compliant loan estimator, tax quote and reporting solutions. We’re also integrated with the most-widely used loan origination and settlement platforms. Simplify your process, cut your time and cost expenditures and do it compliantly in 2020. Start now by having a look at what we can do for you here.”

Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC (CMS), one of the nation’s largest privately held non-bank lenders, announces the launch of Carrington Prime Advantage. The Prime Advantage loan is another game-changing addition to CMS’s full slate of non-agency products offered through the CMS loan origination channels, which include Wholesale and Correspondent lending, designed for higher-credit-quality non-agency borrowers who may have “just missed” qualifying for conventional or jumbo loans. The Prime Advantage product allows for the use of Alternative Income Documentation while delivering competitive pricing and is a perfect fit for borrowers who find themselves in between qualifying for the Carrington Flexible Advantage PlusSM program and conventional or jumbo products. “Our primary objective has always been to lead non-agency lending back into the marketplace,” said Greg Austin, EVP of CMS. “We know how important it is to ensure our product offerings are sharp and industry leading, and Prime Advantage is an example of that commitment.” CMS’s diverse product offerings meet the needs of today’s non-delegated originators, and include conventional Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac products, FHA and VA products and Carrington’s proprietary Flexible Advantage products. For more information on CMS products and services, please visit CarringtonAlly.com.

I’ve indicated in several posts Conquering Shifts is a must readMake it a part of your 2020 business plan. The authors Cindy Douglas and Kathleen Heck have interviewed 12 of the mortgage industries most prolific originators. The book chronicles how each of these individuals got started, how they built successful practices and reminds us that none of us are born with a massive pipeline. Anyone who is committed to building and nurturing relationships, brings value to the table, and delivers on their promises has the ability to realize success. “Conquering Shifts is truly unique in that instead of simply teaching success principles or techniques, the reader sees exactly how they were implemented.” Marty Preston, Benchmark Mortgage. For loan officers and senior management looking to boost production take advantage of the discount offered by the authors, before it ends December 12, 2019.

Floify is determined to help the mortgage industry become more profitable in the New Year. The company has big plans to introduce powerful new features and integrations designed specifically to improve lending workflows as well as the overall mortgage borrowing experience. Whether it’s building a connected tech stack through integrations with CRMs, credit providers, cloud storage, and various other productivity solutions, or crafting an elegant loan application process with their brand-new, highly-anticipated 1003, Floify provides everything a mortgage lender needs to create the streamlined workflow and digital experience they need to drive higher margins and growth. Make 2020 the year you move to a digitally-powered loan workflow and start maximizing your profitability – request a live demo of Floify to learn how.

Company webinars

Join National Mortgage Professional Magazine for a very special webinar, 2020 Business Planning with Barry Habib and Shashank Shekhar, Friday, December 6, 12:30 PM ET/ 9:30 AM PT. With the new year rapidly approaching, what better way to prepare than to have industry giants Barry Habib, MBS Highway President and CEO, and Shashank Shekhar, Arcus Lending CEO and Top 20 Loan Originator, give you the tools you need to plan 2020 with predictable results. Some of the many topics Barry and Shashank will be tackling include: taking stock of the mortgage market in 2019, biggest trends to watch out for in 2020, interest rate predictions for 2020, biggest opportunities to grab in 2020, learn the exact planning process that Shashank follows every year, and enjoy a free worksheet to follow along with the business planning. Click here to register.

NEXA Mortgage is a mortgage broker with 343 Loan Officers and that is up from 313 just a month ago. NEXA was recently featured in HousingWire and GrowJo.com as the fastest growing mortgage broker in the country. Want to know why NEXA is growing so fast? Join its weekly webinar today, “Why NEXA with Mike Kortas“. The CEO dives into a deep conversation of what drives this growing channel. This webinar is today at 10am PST/1pm EST at www.NEXAmortgage.com/support. Just click on the link and join. Let them know you heard about it on Chrisman.

JMAC Lending will be hosting a webinar on our Laguna Jumbo program to ‘Compete with Banks!’ on December 11 at 10AM PST. Learn the tips and tricks of our Laguna product so your borrower can get bank rate quality Jumbo pricing. This webinar will provide in-depth review of guideline requirements and which borrower is best suited for it. Al Gruzdis, our Southwest Regional Sales Manager, with over 28 years of experience will be hosting this event. Click here to register.”

Mortgagors are making their payments

Attribute it to a healthy US jobs market helped by the longest economic expansion on record, or improved underwriting guidelines, or an appreciating property market, late payments on mortgages are at their lowest levels in nearly 25 years, the Mortgage Bankers Association said recently. The delinquency rate for home loans on one-to-four-unit residential properties fell to a seasonally adjusted rate of 3.97% of all loans outstanding at the end of the third quarter of 2019, the lowest since early 1995. The stats are program specific. The delinquency rate on mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) decreased 100bp to 8.22%, and the delinquency rate on home loans backed by the Veterans Administration declined by 31bp to 3.93%.

Why should originators care? A couple reasons jump to mind. The secondary market drives rates in the primary market (e.g., rate sheets), and when investors in MBS are more confident about assets, they tend to pay a higher price, driving down the rate. In addition, any borrower making their payments is a refi candidate: No messy 30- or 60-day delinquencies to explain to underwriters.

Vendor updates

Insellerate’s new engagement platform that launched in the second quarter has helped the company grow by over 100% this year and has furthered its commitment to helping its lenders close more loans. Insellerate now serves both retail and consumer direct loan officers by helping lenders engage better with their borrowers and build customers for life. Insellerate will also be offering its engagement platform to wholesale lenders who are wanting to build better relationships with their brokers and provide them more value.

First American Title Insurance Company, the largest subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation (FAF), announced that in less than a year more than $1 billion of real estate transactions have successfully funded and closed using FlexClose™, a warehouse financing and closing service from FirstFunding®, a wholly owned subsidiary of First American Financial Corporation. FlexClose gives lenders and real estate agents the ability to control the exact time funds arrive for a residential real estate transaction closing, even after the daily Fedwire cutoff.

Responding to new laws enacted in New York and California that require lenders to more aggressively manage cyber risk, and recognizing that other states are expected to follow with similar rules, Secure Insight has begun supplementing its vetting process, and subsequent risk profile reports, to display cyber liability coverage carried by settlement agents. The company has always verified internal controls, but has now updated its control verification process to inquire about the nature and extent of internal cyber risk education and technology protections employed in the offices of settlement professionals. This data is now available as a part of the SI Risk Report for the company’s lender clients. SI now manages profiles for more than 75,000 settlement professionals in all 50 states in a shared database available 24/7.

CoreLogic® announced the integration of its Instant Merge™ consumer credit report within the Blend digital lending platform allowing Blend customers to automatically access credit report data during pre-qualification and mortgage origination, helping to expedite the decision-making process. “Integrating Instant Merge credit reports into Blend’s technology provides another opportunity to remove friction from the lending process,” said Brian Martin, head of business development at Blend. Blend serves as the digital layer on top of back-end lender systems so they can be more efficient and reduce the time and cost associated with loan origination.

The Mortgage List and the Mortgage Action Alliance (MAA) continue to collaborate to help increase awareness and support for MAA’s initiatives and fundamental industry issues. The Mortgage List is working with MAA to create banners and categories to be displayed on all Mortgage List Vendor listings, identifying vendors as MAA supporters. The Mortgage List Vendor listings will identify MAA supporters on their individual profiles and will be easily searchable via categories.

Capital markets

It has been a volatile week for Treasuries, which reversed Tuesday’s rally to pull back yesterday, exhibiting similar movement to Monday on the back of renewed trade optimism. After rattling markets by saying a trade deal with China might not be finalized until after the 2020 election on Tuesday, President Trump announced yesterday that the U.S. and China may be moving closer to an agreement on the amount of tariffs that would be rolled back as part of any partial trade deal. Again (for now), negotiations seem to be moving toward a deal despite the escalation in rhetoric in recent days and tensions over Congressional support for democracy protesters in Hong Kong. As has been the case lately, the report was light on details, and it was attributed to “people familiar with the talks,” but markets responded positively nonetheless. Less important to market movement were underwhelming ADP and ISM non-manufacturing PMI readings.

 

Today’s economic calendar is already underway with November job cuts from Challenger (45k), Initial Jobless Claims for the week ending 11/30 (203k, a 7-month low), and the October trade deficit ($47.2 billion, China imports way down). The only other release scheduled for today, October Factory Orders, will be out later this morning. Markets will receive some Fed speak from Fed Governor Quarles. And the Treasury will announce the details of the mini-Refunding consisting of 3-year notes and reopened 10-year and 30-year notes. We begin the day with the 10-year yielding 1.80 percent after closing yesterday +7 bps to 1.78 percent and Agency MBS prices worse .125 on the strong jobless claims number.

My kids asked for a cat for Christmas. My wife normally serves turkey, but if it’ll make ‘em happy…

Visit www.robchrisman.com for more information on our industry partners, access archived commentaries, or to subscribe to the Daily Mortgage News and Commentary. If you’re interested, visit my periodic blog at the STRATMOR Group web site. The current blog is, “Politics do Indeed Impact Interest Rates and Borrowers” If you have the inclination, make a comment on what I have written, or on other comments so that folks can learn what’s going on out there from the other readers.

Rob

(Market data provided in partnership with MBS Live. For free job postings and to view candidate resumes visit LenderNews. Currently there are hundreds of mortgage professionals looking for operations, secondary and management roles. For up-to-date mortgage news visit Mortgage News Daily. For archived commentaries, or to subscribe, go to www.robchrisman.com. Copyright 2019 Chrisman LLC. All rights reserved. Occasional paid job listings do appear. This report or any portion hereof may not be reprinted, sold or redistributed without the written consent of Rob Chrisman.)

loanDepot names Sudhir Nair chief information and technology officer

In August, loanDepot’s chief technology officer Dominick Marchetti announced that he was leaving to join Guaranteed Rate. Four months later, the empty role has been filled, as loanDepot announced the hire of Sudhir Nair as chief information and technology officer.

In this new role, Nair and will be based at the company’s mello Innovation Lab, and will report to Sr. EVP, Chief Revenue Officer Jeff Walsh.

“Sudhir Nair brings an excellent balance of business-centric IT leadership and emerging technology solutions acumen,” Walsh said. “His capacity for identifying growth opportunities that provide exceptional ROI are well known within the industry, and we are delighted that he will be joining us as we enter our second decade of business.”

Nair brings over 20 years of experience to the role. Prior to joining loanDepot, he served as executive vice president and chief information officer at LoanCare. He has also served in the role of chief information officer for Academic Partnerships and NationStar. Before those positions, Nair spent 10 years in high-level positions at Bank of America.

“Sudhir Nair will be instrumental in helping us to design and implement enhancements that will enable us to continue to transform the mortgage experience,” said COO Tammy Richards. “We challenged the industry with our mello smartloan, and, with Sudhir’s leadership, we will continue to create technologies that will delight our customers and improve the mortgage experience.”

According to its announcement, loanDepot is looking to Nair with “continuing loanDepot’s dominance as a fintech leader in the mortgage sector.”

“Sudhir Nair is joining us at an ideal time,” said CEO and Founder Anthony Hsieh. “During our first decade, we established ourselves as an industry innovator, unafraid to make an investment in the technologies that we knew would transform the industry. As we enter our second decade, we plan to continue in that vein, but in a boldly customer-centric manner—and it is in this arena that Sudhir excels.”

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Zumper: U.S. rent price growth slows in December

In December, the majority of the nation’s rental prices either declined or remained relatively flat during the month, Zumper said in its National Rent Report.

According to the company, it now costs the typical renter a median of $1,230 and $1,465 to rent the average one- and two-bedroom units. While this is a decline from the previous month, it equates to an annual increase of 1.8% and 1.7%, respectively.

Nevertheless, Zumper notes all of the top 10 rental markets experienced either a flat or downward monthly trend, including San Francisco, New York, Boston, Oakland and San Jose.

While each of these metros ranks high among the nation’s priciest rental markets, all five experienced lackluster growth in December.

San Francisco, which now has the highest rental prices for a one-bedroom unit at $3,490 and a two-bedroom unit at $4,500, experienced a monthly price decline of 1.1% and 3.6%, respectively.

New York, which also saw monthly decreases for both bedroom types, saw one-bedroom rent slide 1% to $2,970 and two-bedroom rent fall 2% to $3,430. On a year over year basis, New York City rents are both up around 8%.

Despite a 1.2% decline in rent prices for one-bedroom units, Zumper indicates Boston remained the third priciest rental market. In this metro, one-bedroom rents now cost $2,500, while two-bedroom units grew 0.7% to $2,950.

The nation’s fourth priciest rental market, Oakland, saw one bedroom rent fall by 1.2% to $2,470 and two-bedroom rent decrease by 0.3% to $2,990.

And San Jose continued to round out Zumper’s top 5 markets with one-bedroom rent remaining virtually unchanged at $2,450- and two-bedroom rent experiencing a 1.7% decline to $2,900.

When it comes to overall annual growth, Zumper notes Cleveland had the fastest-growing rent since this time last year, jumping by 16%. According to the report, this growth rate moved the city to the 57th most expensive rental market, equating a 17-spot jump.

This was followed by Lincoln, New England, where one-bedroom rent climbed by 15.7% year over year, jumping up 13 positions from last year when it was the 89th most expensive rental market.

The chart below displays annual rent price growth from last year until now, according to Zumper. 

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U.S. home prices heated up in October thanks to low rates

Early September’s three-year low in mortgage rates caused home prices to heat up in October, according to Black Knight.

U.S. home prices grew at an annual pace of 4.25% in October, the biggest year-over-year gain in nine months, compared with an increase of 3.9% in September, as cheaper financing gave people the ability to bid up home prices, the company said.

Measured on a monthly basis, home prices rose 0.33%, which is almost six times the 5-year average for the month of October, Black Knight. It was the largest single-month increase for any October since 2005.

“Falling rates have significantly increased buying power throughout 2019,” the company said in a statement, “and that’s helping to reheat the housing market.”

When mortgage rates fall, borrowers typically can get bigger mortgages because the size of the loan they’re qualified for is based on their monthly payments. That means they can pay more for the home they want.

The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to a three-year low of 3.49% during the first week of September, according to Freddie Mac. Most buyers influenced by the low rates would have had time to negotiate a deal and close on a home by the end of October.

Home sales in 2019, measuring existing and new properties, probably will increase 1% to 6.1 million, Fannie Mae said in a forecast last month. In 2020, the annual gain in sales probably will be 1.1%, the mortgage company said.

The average U.S. rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage probably be 3.9% this year, down from 4.5% in 2018, Fannie Mae said. 

For the year, the median U.S. home price probably will increase 5.2%, compared with 6% in 2018, Fannie Mae said, based on the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s index measuring home purchases using Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages.

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Expert: 2020’s housing market will look a lot like 2019

It wasn’t what was expected this time last year, but much of the talk in housing this year has been about falling mortgage rates and their impact on the mortgage market.

Beyond that, there’s been a lot of talk this year about iBuyers and what they will do to the housing ecosystem in the future.

To get a feel for what’s coming next, HousingWire sat down this week with Morty Co-Founder & CTO Adam Rothblatt to discuss iBuyers, what will happen with mortgage rates, and more about what’s coming in 2020.

While some say supply and demand will become healthy and regular in 2020, Rothblatt told HousingWire that iBuying has made more of a disruptive and exciting impact within the industry.

“I think [iBuying] is certainly dominating the conversation. I don’t see it becoming the preeminent way that homes are bought and sold anytime soon. But it will definitely be on the rise in 2020,” Rothblatt said.

Rothblatt said the consumers can bet on mortgage rates remaining low, and 2020 will look a lot like 2019 with modest growth. That includes rising home prices and low inventory.

The mortgage industry should also expect to see refinance volumes continue to be high in 2020, considering the current mortgage rates trends, Rothblatt said.

“Whatever the reason might be there, there are a huge number of homebuyers were refinancing still makes sense,” Rothblatt said. “And I would expect to see refinance volumes continue to be high in 2020, assuming that interest rates remain where they are.”

Rothblatt is one of the few who says there probably won’t be a recession in 2020. He thinks there are more structural issues such as rising national debt that is creating the recession fear.

Beyond that, Rothblatt thinks the housing market’s shifting demographics will continue to impact the market.

Rothblatt also said Millennials are going to continue to wait to buy a home, and will have higher standards for their homes, such as location and quality.

And Rothblatt thinks Generation Z will most likely behave the same.

“Many of [the homes] are jumbos far as the mortgages they’re seeking to, have. In high priced markets they’re young, they’re upwards of a million dollars,” Rothblatt said. “That’s very different from the first time homebuyer profile, 10 years ago.”

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Millennial refinances hit new high in October

The share of refinances closed by Millennials increased in October to an all new high, according to the latest Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker report.

The report showed 34% of all loans closed by Millennials, or those born between 1980 and 1995, were refinances. That’s up 1% from the previous month to the highest share since Ellie Mae began tracking in January 2016.

Breaking it down by loan type, refinances made up 41% of conventional loans closed by Millennials, up slightly from 40% in September, and the refinance share for FHA loans remained flat at 10%. For VA loans, the refinance share dropped to 42%, down a full six percentage points from the previous month.

Refinances on FHA loans remains low for several reasons. For example, many borrowers are more financially sound when they refinance, and are better served with a conventional product. Also, the FHA’s life-of-the-loan mortgage insurance is enough to spur refinances out of FHA loans even when interest rates begin to spike.

The refinance share peaked in October as the interest rate for 30-year loans once again fell, dropping from 3.91% in September to 3.9% in October. This marked the second straight month that the average interest rate was below 4%, a level it had not fallen to since December 2016.

“Declining interest rates have significantly increased Millennials’ awareness of refinancing as a fiscally responsible option and we’re seeing more and more homeowners in this demographic take advantage of refinancing their mortgages,” said Joe Tyrrell, Ellie Mae chief operating officer. “Heading into 2020, lenders should proactively reach out to prospective Millennial homebuyers whose likelihood of purchasing a home has now increased due to these historically low interest rates.”

But borrowers beware – while the lending market may be ready for an onslaught of new Millennial borrowers, the housing market may not be quite as ready.

The days to close a loan increased across the board, jumping to 44 days in October, up from 42 days in September. This trend was consistent for all loan types, as days to close for Conventional refinances at 44, FHA refinances at 51 and VA refinances at 48 all increased in October.

The report showed the average age of the primary borrower on all closed loans was 30.6 in October, tied for the highest mark of any month in 2019. Also highest for 2019 was the average FICO score on all closed loans, which reached 730 in October.

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Gateway First Bank hires new EVP, chief production officer

Gateway First Bank announced that it hired Tony Taveekanjana as its new executive vice president and chief production officer.

Taveekanjana has 20 years of experience with other mortgage banks and independents.

“This is a significant event in the mortgage industry,” Stephen Curry, chairman and chief executive officer of Gateway First Bank, said in a statement.

“Attracting an industry leader of Tony’s caliber to our team is a terrific complement to the business model we have launched,” Curry added. “His career was built on recruiting great talent and implementing disciplined growth strategies that drive success for both clients and team members. He brings those critical skills to our journey. Tony’s life story resonates with our values.”

Taveekanjana previously served in national sales leadership positions with Envoy Mortgage, Movement Mortgage, and Stearns Lending, as well as senior leadership positions at New Penn Financial, Fifth Third Bank, and Countrywide Home Loans.

Earlier this year, Gateway Mortgage Group completed its acquisition of Farmers Exchange Bank, with the two companies emerging under the name Gateway First Bank and creating one of the top 5 largest banks in Oklahoma.

“With over 800 Gateway team members reporting to him, Tony will have a critical role in helping Gateway become a top tier mortgage bank and ensuring that Gateway is the place where talented people come to be successful,” Curry said.

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Redfin will now let people buy a house in California without a real estate agent

People in California who want to buy a home without using a real estate agent can now do exactly that, thanks to Redfin.

The online real estate brokerage, which has been growing its mortgage and direct homebuying operations over the last several years, also now offers a program that allows homebuyers to buy a Redfin-listed home without utilizing (and therefore paying) a buyer’s agent.

And now, that program will be available to homebuyers in California.

Redfin announced earlier this week that it is expanding its agent-free homebuying program to “most” of its California markets, including Fresno, Inland Empire, Los Angeles, Orange County, Palm Springs, Sacramento, San Diego, and Santa Barbara.

Through the program, which the company calls “Redfin Direct,” buyers can visit and buy Redfin-listed homes without needing to contact or use a buyer’s real estate agent.

According to the company, this allows buyers to “make their offer more competitive by saving the seller from paying thousands in commissions to a buyer’s agent.”

But the program isn’t totally free of real estate agents. In fact, the program is only available on homes that are either listed by Redfin agents or owned by Redfin itself.

For Redfin-listed homes, buyers can schedule a home tour with a Redfin agent with a few clicks through the company’s “Book It Now” feature.

For homes that Redfin owns through its iBuying program, buyers can use “Direct Access,” which allows them unlock the door with their phone and tour properties on their own schedule, without an agent.

Then, when a buyer is ready to make an offer on either a Redfin-listed or Redfin-owned home, Redfin Direct offers tools that help guide the buyer through the process, including laying out the elements of the contract and providing information on typical Redfin seller preferences so the buyer can make their offer stronger.

“Redfin Direct is a new way to buy a home for people who are confident making an offer without an agent,” said Mark Bennett, Redfin’s state broker in California.

“In a multiple offer situation, helping the seller avoid paying a buyer agent commission is one way to make your offer stand out,” Bennett added. “For the buyers who are comfortable being unrepresented, we are making it easy to make an offer online. This is just one more way Redfin is redefining real estate and helping our customers save money.”

Redfin already offers lower than traditional commissions for homes it lists in California. The company’s commission rate varies from 1% to 1.5%, depending on the market in California.

According to the company, on a median-priced home of $650,000 in Los Angeles, a seller could save up to $26,000 by listing with a Redfin agent and selling to a Redfin Direct buyer when compared to paying the traditional 6% in commission fees.

Redfin Direct is also available to buyers in larger markets in Massachusetts, Northern Virginia, and Texas, and the company plans to expand the program to additional markets in the future.

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