Archive for February, 2012

Love, hate, Trulia

I’m not sure what to make of these two stories.

Business Insider: “Zillow And Trulia Face Backlash From Real Estate Agents

Among their complaints are that the sites allow any agent, for a fee, to have their name and photo appear prominently beside homes listed for sale in a given region, even if they aren’t the agent who represents the seller.


Some realtors also claim that many listings on the largest sites are inaccurate. “The wrong photos often appeared with our listings,” says San Diego realtor Jim Abbott, whose firm no longer shares data with the national sites.

From AG Beat: “Largest MLS in America to syndicate listings directly to Trulia

Today, Trulia has announced a strategic partnership with Midwest Real Estate Data (MRED), the largest MLS in the nation which will now syndicate over 100,000 listings directly to Trulia.

NAR seeks nominations for Realtor "Good Neighbors"

Every year, NAR recognizes five members who go above and beyond the call of duty and give back to their communities through volunteer service. It’s part of Realtor magazine’s Good Neighbor Awards, and guess what — it’s currently accepting applications.

Winners each get a $10,000 grant for his or her favorite charity, plus free travel to (and presumably from) NAR’s Conference & Expo in Orlando. (Another five honorable mentions will each receive a $2,500 grant.)

Know someone who fits the bill? Entries must be received by Friday, May 18.

Visit the Good Neighbor Awards Web site for more info.

FHA sorta kinda might tweak condo rules

Not too long ago we told you how FHA changed tightened its rules for condos to have their units certified for FHA loans — and then required every condo in the country to re-apply for that certification. The result is that condo owners who try to sell are finding they’ve lost a good portion of their market because their association hasn’t done the paperwork. (Click here to read that story.)

Anyway, some Democratic congressmen wrote to HUD secretary Shaun Donovan, pointing out that a lot of condo associations were having trouble meeting the new guidelines.

Result: FHA head Carole Galente said that yes, some “adjustments” in the requirements could happen. Her exact phrase:

“I will commit to you here that some of these I think we can make some adjustments.”

Translation: I promise that maybe we’ll change things.

Click here for a bit more from HousingWire.

Low mortgage rates and great prices aren’t enough to get people buying homes — so says Fed chairman Ben Bernanke in his testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services. That’s because too many people lack the cash for a down payment, and even the ones that have the money are skittish about their jobs.

Or, as Bernanke put it,

[M]any potential buyers lack the down payment and credit history required to qualify for loans; others are reluctant to buy a house now because of concerns about their income, employment prospects, and the future path of home prices.

Click here for the whole economic statement.

Congrats to our award winners

Each year, VAR and some of its partners recognize those members who have gone above and beyond the call of their real estate duties.

These are the Realtors, brokers, and property managers who set the standard for all of us, and who exceed that standard themselves.

Here are our 2011 winners.

Women’s Council of Realtors 2011 State Member of the Year
Phyllis Schrader Robinson
RE/MAX Olympic Realty, Haymarket

Certified Residential Specialist of the Year
Jody Korman
RE/MAX Commonwealth, Richmond

2011 George Rink Educator of the Year
Florence Daniels
Governmental Employees Realty, Alexandria

2011 Ann Swearingen Property Manager of the Year
Schaefer Oglesby
Oglesby Management Group, Lynchburg

Pearl Insurance Virginia Manager of the Year
Claire Forcier-Rowe
Coldwell Banker Elite, Fredericksburg

VHDA Service to Virginia Award
Danita Jackson
Long and Foster, Richmond

Virginia Realtor® Hall of Fame 2011 Inductees

Martha Anders
Coldwell Banker Professional,, Hampton

Tom Innes
RE/MAX Commonwealth, Richmond

Jack Torza
Long and Foster, Mechanicsville

2011 Omega Tau Rho Inductees

Admission to the Omega Tau Rho fraternity is awarded by state and local Realtor associations to members and others who have given exemplary dedication and service to the Realtor organization. And once an Omega Tau Rho medallion is awarded, the recipient is a member for life.

Matha Allen, Northern Virginia Association of Realtors®

Paige Audet, NVAR

Walter Babic, NVAR

Pete Bratic, NVAR

Renee Brown, NVAR

Walter Burns, NVAR

Erick Campos , NVAR

Constance Crigler, NVAR

Leslie Dickemann, NVAR

John Dickinson, Roanoke Valley Association of Realtors®

Elaine Fortune-Moat, NVAR

Karen Gaskins, Hampton Roads Realtor® Association

Joseph Giovannelli, NVAR

Hella Grayson, NVAR

Grace Harris, NVAR

Suzie Hatcher, HRRA

Joseph Jones, HRRA

Merelyn Kaye, NVAR

Sue Mandel, NVAR

Louis Panizza, NVAR

Robert Pannier, NVAR

Sunnie Poloskey, NVAR

William Rhodes Jr., HRRA

Andrea Riggs, NVAR

Evelyn Rivenbark, HRRA

Elizabeth Ross, NVAR

Mary Satre, NVAR

Steven Sherman, NVAR

Robert Simmons, NVAR

Tim Taylor, NVAR

Patricia Toenniessen, NVAR

Jan Trach, NVAR

Wendell White, HRRA

Jon Wolford, NVAR

John Wood Jr., HRRA

Benjamin Zurun, NVAR

Fed chief on housing: good news and bad

James Bullard, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, commented on a paper written by a list of financial bigwigs* called “Housing, Monetary Policy, and the Recovery.”

He made two particular points of note. First, the housing bubble and its bursting is scaring a generation of Americans from buying property, and “may suggest a more permanent shift to renting.”

Second, that Americans’ high debt loads are hobbling a recovery. Not only do about 65% of homeowners carry debt, but their combined homes are only worth about $712 billion — and their debt is close to $10 trillion.

In 2005, the typical loan-to-value ratio was about 58%. Today, thanks to collapsing prices and over-borrowed homeowners, it’s at 90%.

Read more from HousingWire.


*Mike Feroli (JPMorgan Chase), Ethan Harris (Bank of America), Amir Sufi (University of Chicago Booth School of Business), and Ken West (University of Wisconsin)

FHA insurance premiums going up April 1

On April 1, and again on June 1, mortgage insurance premiums for FHA loans will go up. Buyers who want to avoid having to pay the higher rates should apply for a loan — and get an FHA case number — no later than March 31.

The next day, the premium will rise from 1.0% of the loan to 1.75%, and annual fees will rise as well (by 0.1% or 0.25% for loans between $625,500 and $729,750).

Click here to read more from The Mortgage Reports.

Fannie Mae begins bulk foreclosure sales

Fannie Mae is beginning its program to sell the foreclosed homes on its books to investors who will turn them into rental properties.

The pilot program will be available for about 2,500 properties in Los Angeles, parts of Florida, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Chicago. Most of the properties are single-family homes, but about 500 are condominiums.

The goal is to stabilize home prices and get these properties off the taxpayer’s books and back into the private sector.

Read more from the Wall Street Journal.

"Tremendous borrower interest" in HARP

The new version of the Obama Administration’s Home Affordable Refinance Program, which allows underwater and upside-down homeowners to refinance at lower rates is seeing “tremendous” interest, according to Ed DeMarco, acting head of the Federal Housing Finance Administration.

The program had been limited to homeowners who owe less than 125% of their home’s value, but that limit was lifted. Borrowers still need to be current on their existing mortgages to qualify.

Big shift from big banks

Large and medium-sized banks lost almost 10 percent of their customers to smaller institutions in 2011, thanks to dissatisfaction with customer service, high fees, and “social consciousness.”

Prompted in part by “Bank Transfer Day” on the fifth of November, Bank of America, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo were the big losers; most moved their money to smaller banks and credit unions.

Large banks — those with more than $33 billion in assets — are losing an average of 10% or more, according the JD Power and Associates, which released the report. On the other hand, small banks and credit unions are losing less than 1% of customers.

Read the full story from the JD Power and Associates release.

Read more from the LA Times.