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HUD to Allow Dual Agency Agreements in FHA Pre-foreclosure Transactions
On July 14, 2014, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued Mortgagee Letter 2014-15 allowing dual agency agreements in FHA pre-foreclosure transactions. Dual agency includes transactions in which two agents are working for the same broker and one agent represents the seller and the other agent represents the buyer. Dual agency also applies to a single agent who represents both the buyer and the seller in a short sale transaction. The new guidance will preserve dual agency agreements in FHA short sales, but require the properties to be listed for at least 15 calendar days before any offers are evaluated. After the 15-day period, offers may be evaluated as they are received. If multiple offers are received, the listing agent or broker must forward the offer that provides the highest net return to HUD and meets HUD's criteria for bid requirements. Last summer, HUD issued a policy to exclude dual agency agreements in FHA short sale transactions starting October 1, 2013. NAR expressed concerns about the policy and has been working with HUD ever since to address those concerns. (Read more)

NAR Comments on FHA HAWK Program
On June 30, 2014, NAR President Steve Brown sent a letter to Federal Housing Administration (FHA) Commissioner Carol Galante in support of FHA’s efforts to reduce mortgage insurance premiums for first-time buyers through its Homeowners Armed with Knowledge program, or HAWK. HAWK is a pilot program to encourage more housing counseling in the home buying process for borrowers using FHA insured financing. Homebuyers who participate in the program will qualify for reductions in their mortgage insurance premiums for FHA-insured loans. The average buyer could save approximately $325 a year – or almost $9,800 over the life of their loan. While any amount helps, NAR is concerned that many qualified home buyers will still not be able to achieve homeownership unless insurance premiums come down more. NAR recommends that FHA reduce mortgage insurance premiums for all qualified home buyers and offer further reductions for home buyers who participate in the HAWK program.

House Committee Approves TRIA Bill
On June 20, 2014, after an extensive markup hearing the day before, the House Financial Services Committee approved the TRIA Reauthorization bill, H.R. 4871, by a vote of 32 to 27. The vote fell along party lines. H.R. 4871 reauthorizes the program for 5 years, gradually increases the trigger amount from $100 million to $500 million, decreases the federal government co-share from 85% to 80%, and bifurcates the treatment of “conventional” terrorism attacks from Nuclear, Biological, Chemical or Radiological (NBCR) attacks. The next step is for the bill is to be brought to the House floor and voted on there. The Senate bill, which passed the Senate Banking Committee unanimously on June 3, still has to be brought to the Senate floor and voted on as well. (Read more)

FAA Clarifies Drone Use
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released information that clarifies the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the nation’s airspace. While current FAA policy prohibits the use of UAVs for any commercial use, the recent FAA statement clarified that use of these vehicles by Realtors to create a video to market property or to hire a third party to create a video is specifically disallowed. The FAA was directed by Congress to develop a proposed regulation to integrate UAVs into the airspace by 2015. NAR will be submitting comments on the FAA’s most recent guidance and is working with other stakeholders organizations and experts to respond to the FAA’s proposed rule when it is published and work with the FAA to seek an exemption for realtor use of drones.

FHA Reverse Mortgage Changes
On June 18, 2014, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) released two Mortgagee Letters on the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program. The first Mortgagee Letter, ML 2014-10, reminds mortgagees of FHA’s requirements prohibiting misleading or deceptive advertising, including in descriptions of the HECM program. The second Mortgagee Letter, ML 2014-11, addresses risk associated with certain fixed interest rate products. FHA will only insure fixed interest rate reverse mortgages where the homeowner is limited to a single, full draw made at closing.

July 11, 2014

Top Amenities Buyers Will Make Sacrifices For
Home buyers say they'd give up being close to public transportation, better schools, and entertainment and shopping in order to have these amenities.

Survey: Buyers, Sellers 'Not on the Same Page'
Buyers and sellers are taking a more aggressive stance in the market, with some sellers overpricing their homes and more buyers refusing to get in bidding wars, a new Redfin survey finds.

Where the Priciest, Cheapest New Homes Are
The price of a new home can vary considerably throughout the country. Find out where new homes are the most and least expensive.

Tiny Homes Spark Big Movement
Homes that are 500 square feet or less have grown in popularity in recent years. What’s behind the big interest?

A GPS That Maps the ‘Emotionally Pleasant’ Route?
Happy trails may be in store for you and your clients. Researchers are developing a mapping service that highlights the most scenic route to a destination.

People Make Perfect Props in Listings
Showhomes Tampa takes residential staging to a new level, recruiting middle-class occupants to live in upscale, vacant properties.

25 June 2014

New-Home Sales Surge Nearly 19%
“This increase is a welcome sign after a slow start to 2014,” says a builder trade group’s chief economist.

Fannie: The Housing Market Resets into Catch-Up Mode
The housing market is starting to show some improvement after a slow start to the year, but home sales likely will still likely be shy of 2013 numbers, according to Fannie Mae’s June 2014 Economic Outlook.

Why Builders Are Worried About Millennials
Millennials are going to be a big force in the housing industry in the years to come, but for homebuilders, they may be trouble.

Multifamily Sector Dodges Warnings
The multifamily market continues to post strong gains, despite warnings from analysts as early as 2011 saying that the sector was heading for a cool down from competition over recovering home prices.

Loan Applications Take Another Dip
Applications for home mortgages softened last week, despite a drop in mortgage rates that lowered borrowing costs.

Plant a Tree, Save on Energy
Stay top-of-mind with your base by giving them creative tips on how their landscaping can cut their energy bills substa

20 June 2014

You Don't Need That Much of a Down Payment 
Many consumers are overestimating the down payment they need in order to purchase a home, believing that they need 11 percent to 15 percent to get approved for a loan. In reality, it takes much less.

How to Avoid Trouble With 'Coming Soon' Ads 
“Failing to disclose the pros and cons of a limited marketing plan, such as ‘coming soon’ advertising, can violate state real estate license laws and regulations, MLS policies, and the REALTOR®Code of Ethics,” NAR warns.

10 Safest States in the U.S. 
In honor of National Safety Month, social media network WalletHub analyzed 26 key metrics to arrive at a list of the safest places to live in the U.S. Find out if your state made the top 10.

Low Mortgage Rates Could Slow Selling Activity 
Mortgage rates were at all-time lows last year, and those home owners who were able to lock in low rates may be less willing to sell in the future. The phenomenon is being dubbed the “lockdown effect.”

Spring Sees Dive in Housing Affordability
The average family found homes to be a little less affordable in April, as home prices continued to rise while incomes and mortgage rates remained stagnant.

Stagnant Wages Put Brakes on Rent Rise
Rents rose in April at the slowest pace in the last 12 months, as median wages continued to slog and for-sale home prices take off.

6 June 2014

The Rise of Equity: Are the Gains Enough?
Rising home prices led more than 300,000 home owners to gain equity in the first quarter. But not all home owners are out of the woods quite yet, a new report shows.

The Real Reason People Moved Last Year
The Census Bureau asked millions of people who moved last year what their main reason was for relocating. Find out what they had to say.

Mortgage Rates Climb Slightly From Recent Lows
Fixed-rate mortgages moved up slightly after recent weeks of hitting new lows for the year.

Economic Woes Continue to Plague Housing
Americans are earning about $4,700 a year less than they would have been if the economy had not undergone the Great Recession, according to NAR’s chief economist.

J.D Power Ranks Top Home Improvement Retailers
To find which home improvement retailer ranks highest with customers, J.D. Power evaluated five factors of customer satisfaction, including merchandise availability, price, service, and more.

The Kitchen is No Longer ‘Heart of the Home’?
Can you guess what part of the home is currently favored among home owners, according to a recent survey?


Almost Half of States Near Home Appreciation Peaks
Twenty-three states as well as the District of Columbia are at or within 10 percent of their home price appreciation peak.

New-Home Shoppers Are in Upgrade Mode
The new-home market in the last year has largely been driven by the upper tier, resulting in record-setting rises to the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and garages being added to new homes.

‘Affordability Issues Are Real, Major Hurdle’
Fifty-two percent of Americans say they’ve had to make at least one major sacrifice in order to cover their rent or mortgage over the last there years.

Report Raises Concerns Over Homelessness After Foster Care About 25,000 young people “age out” of foster care each year, and a large portion then face homelessness.

Mortgage Applications Fall 3.1% in Latest Week
Loan demand was on the decline last week, despite mortgage rates continuing to drive down borrowing costs.

Anyone? 'Ferris Bueller' Home Finally Sells
It took five years to find a buyer for the iconic home featured in a classic 1986 feature movie.

Experts: Home-Price Appreciation to Slow Down Through 2016 
After a sharp double-digit percentage increase in home values last year, a rollback in appreciation would put them more on par with historical norms, economists say.
Student Loans Causing Housing Shift, CFPB Says 
For the first time in at least a decade, households with student-loan debt are less likely to have a mortgage than those without student-loan debt, CFPB director Richard Cordray says.
Toughest Markets for Renters to Become Home Owners 
Tougher mortgage underwriting standards and tight inventories are pushing first-time home buyers out of the market, and these cities have it the worst.
Commercial Market Posts Gains Across the Board 
The commercial real estate market continues to rebound, showing steady gains in pricing and transaction activity in all major property types throughout the country.
Developer Sues Zuckerberg Over Real Estate Dispute 
A Northern California real estate developer is accusing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg of failing to introduce him to other potential home buyers in exchange for stopping a building project.
Walking a Fine Line With Celebrity Homes 
Real estate professionals tasked with selling celebrity homes have to balance the need for privacy with the need to generate exposure.

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