September 2017 – Page 2 – Elev8 Group
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Consumers remain too optimistic when estimating home value

Homeowners continue to overestimate their home values, however the gap continues to narrow, according to the latest National Home Price Perception Index from Quicken Loans.

The index, which compares homeowners estimates and the appraised home values, showed appraised home values came in 1.35% lower than homeowner estimates in August. This gap is smaller than July’s gap of 1.55%.

This closing gap is due, in part, by the increase in appraised values which ticked up 0.19% in August. This is up 2.64% from August of last year.

“As the sun sets on the summer, some of the intense competition for housing also winds down,” said Bill Banfield, Quicken Loans executive vice president of capital markets. “It’s important to focus on the annual numbers with the HVI. While there can be some monthly variations in the data, especially as seasons start to change, the annual numbers show healthy growth across the country.”   

The chart below shows despite the narrowing gap over the past few months, homeowners have been overestimating their home values since the beginning of 2015.

Click to Enlarge


(Source: Quicken Loans)

Homeowner perception varied widely from one region to the next, as appraisal values ranged from 3% higher than homeowner estimates in the West to 3% lower in the Midwest and Northeast.

The chart below shows the index in varies metros across the U.S.

Click to Enlarge


(Source: Quicken Loans)

“One of the biggest lessons from the HPPI, is highlighting how regionalized real estate is,” Banfield said. “Homeowners who have a better understanding of their local housing market can make more informed decisions about their home. After all, their house is not just where they live, but one of their bigger assets.”

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6 timeless home features that are always ‘in’

(BPT) – Home design trends come and go. In five years, the blue kitchen cabinets that are so trendy right now may well go the way of the avocado-hued appliances that graced many American kitchens in the ‘70s. However, certain home features are timeless, and those are the ones well worth investing in if you’re ready to purchase a new home.

Timeless features are meant to look and function as well in 10 years as they do today. Here are six timeless home features that will look great and function well in any new home — now and for years to come.

1. Light, naturally!

Natural light never goes out of style. Rooms that receive ample sunlight can look and feel bigger, brighter and more welcoming. Plus, the positive effects of natural light on mood are well-documented. So, on your search for a new home, look for features such as large windows and skylights not only to improve home value, but also to improve your mood!

2. Plenty of kitchen work space

Probably the only thing worse than a kitchen with too few cabinets is one with a lack of work space. An ample amount of counter space and a kitchen island are features that perfectly marry function and desirability. Counters provide a place to prepare meals, and a kitchen island can also serve as an entertainment hub where you can serve family and guests while maintaining a conversation.

3. Spacious showers

Let’s face it, soaking tubs are a luxury many people just don’t have much time to enjoy. However, since you shower every day, it makes sense to go for a large, tiled shower where you can savor the experience. Tub trends come and go, but a spacious walk-in shower is timeless.

4. Open floor plans

Open floor plans may have started as a design trend in the 1980s, but by now they’re a staple of home design. When you consider how practical and beautiful an open floor plan can be, it makes sense that the feature is here to stay. “Some homes today are featuring ‘gathering kitchens’ versus a separate dining room,” says Andy Hutsell, Clayton home building group’s designer. “Open floor plans incorporating the kitchen, dining room and living room make spaces feel bigger and provide plenty of room for gathering with friends and family.”

5. White kitchens

Color trends come and go, especially in kitchens, and some end up looking very regrettable down the road (again, think avocado appliances). However, a white or neutral-colored kitchen will always be in good taste. The bright, clean lines of a white kitchen are the perfect backdrop for adding your own decorations and color accents.

6. Energy efficiency

The green movement has transformed virtually every aspect of American life, to the extent that energy efficiency is no longer a trend but an established requirement for modern homes. Features like energy-efficient windows and appliances, low-flow faucets, smart thermostats and insulation help save you money while preserving the environment — and that’s something that will never go out of style!

When looking for that timeless new home, choosing a manufactured home can be a smart, affordable way to get all the timeless features you desire. Clayton home building group designers research the most innovative features and designs. Most home models provide customizable options so you can Have it made(R) by achieving the dream of homeownership. To learn more, visit www.claytonhomes.com.


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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: Is Equifax telling the wrong people they were hacked?

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news coming across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on larger issues.

The Equifax security breach impacted a jaw-dropping 143 million U.S. consumers.

That’s right 143 million consumers, meaning the likelihood you or someone you know had their information wrongfully stolen is uneasily high.

And to make matters worse, according to this from veteran securities reporter, Brian Krebs, on his Krebs on Security blog, the website (equifaxsecurity2017.com) that the credit bureau set up for consumers to see if their personal information was impacted by the breach, may just be haphazardly telling consumers they were impacted when they weren’t — and perhaps vice versa, too. Krebs proves his case by publishing screen shots.

The credit bureau website is also intended as a place for consumers to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection, which will be provided by Equifax for one year. As Krebs notes, the new website not only drives new clients to Equifax, but also forces them to sign an arbitration clause to get out of being sued later.

From the article:

As noted in yesterday’s breaking story on this breach, the Web site that Equifax advertised as the place where concerned Americans could go to find out whether they were impacted by this breach — equifaxsecurity2017.com —
is completely broken at best, and little more than a stalling tactic or sham at worst.

In the early hours after the breach announcement, the site was being flagged by various browsers as a phishing threat. In some cases, people visiting the site were told they were not affected, only to find they received a different answer when they checked the site with the same information on their mobile phones.

Others (myself included) received not a yes or no answer to the question of whether we were impacted, but instead a message that credit monitoring services we were eligible for were not available and to check back later in the month. The site asked users to enter their last name and last six digits of their SSN, but at the prompting of a reader’s comment I confirmed that just entering gibberish names and numbers produced the same result as the one I saw when I entered my real information: Come back on Sept. 13.

Equifax remains infuriatingly silent on a lot of the giant debacle, especially since the company said it discovered the unauthorized access on July 29, 2017, and “acted immediately to stop the intrusion.”

But, it didn’t immediately inform the public on any of this, waiting nearly two months to say anything.

As the public anxiously awaits news on how this impacts them, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the House Financial Services Committee, and the office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are each launching an investigation into the breach.

For more information on what to do if you were impacted, the Federal Trade Commission published this list of steps consumers can take to protect themselves after a data breach.

As one of the last remaining Democrats in a top political position in Washington, CFPB Director Richard Cordray is struggling to work in harmony with other Republican-led departments in Washington. 

According to an article in The Hill by Sylvan Lane, the U.S. Department of Education on Friday announced it will stop working with the CFPB to police student loan fraud.

From the article:

The department, now led by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, canceled agreements with the CFPB from 2011 and 2013 that established the working relationship, arguing the agency violated its terms by overstepping its boundaries.

Education Department officials said the CFPB violated the agreements by not directing complaints about Title IV student loans to the department within 10 days; instead, the bureau addressed the cases.

The Education officials said the department “takes exception to the CFPB unilaterally expanding its oversight role to include the Department’s contracted federal loan servicers,” and called it “characteristic of an overreaching and unaccountable agency.”

DeVos’ view that the agency is an “overreaching and unaccountable agency,” doesn’t differ much from other Republicans in Washington.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, is no fan of the CFPB either, previously saying, “”It is the single-most unaccountable and powerful agency in the history of our republic, running afoul of every tenet of separation of powers and checks and balances.”

The Hill quoted CFPB spokesman David Mayorga saying that “the bureau was ‘surprised and disappointed’ by the Education Department’s move, and that CFPB hadn’t heard from Education about any concerns.”

If Amazon wasn’t striking enough fear into businesses across America, the online-shopping giant announced it is opening a second headquarters somewhere in America, leaving top metros across the country vying to attract Amazon’s business.

In an unusual move, an article in The New York Times by Nick Wingfield and Patricia Cohens, stated, “Amazon took the unusual step on Thursday of announcing it wants a second home outside Seattle, starting what is sure to be a fierce bidding war to lure Amazon — and the thousands of high-paying jobs it will bring to town — using a combination of tax breaks and other sweeteners.”

And the article is right. Publications in America’s top metros are all hashing out why their city would be the best place for Amazon to open a new headquarters in. Think Denver, Boston, Dallas, Portland and more.

The article explained the reasoning behind the decision from Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO:

The plan is the latest surprise from Mr. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, who has reshaped Seattle in the more than two decades since he founded Amazon. He overshadows even Bill Gates, the former Microsoft chief executive who put the Seattle area on the map as a destination for tech companies. Amazon is now the biggest corporate employer in Seattle, and it occupies 19 percent of the prime office space in the city, more than any other employer in a big American city, The Seattle Times reported last month.

But Amazon executives have talked internally and with outsiders in recent years about how much more of the company’s hyper-growth Seattle would be able to handle. Housing prices here are skyrocketing, the competition for tech industry talent is getting more fierce and traffic chokes the roads.

If Bezos wanted to take the advice from The New York Times, they already did the math on the city that would be the best choice: Denver.

Will keep watch to see if they are right.

While HousingWire followed the controversial construction of Fannie Mae’s new headquarters in Washington, D.C., what will happen to the government-sponsored enterprise’s old building?

Fannie Mae’s building, as pictured below, has become one of the more famous buildings in Washington thanks to the building’s Colonial Revival style.


Andrew Giambrone explained in an article in the Washington City Paper why developers’ want Fannie Mae’s headquarters designated as historic.

The article explained that the project is notable for how it will modify and reuse an existing structure.

From the article:

D.C.-based Roadside Development and North America Sekisui House, a Japanese building firm, acquired the site last year through a joint venture for $89 million. Their plans include additional retail and housing.

Just this summer, the joint venture filed an application with D.C.’s Historic Preservation Office to designate the red brick Fannie Mae headquarters, built in the mid-1950s, as a landmark.

The team’s application for landmark status makes much of the building’s Colonial Revival style, which D.C. architect Leon Chatelain, Jr. used to evoke the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia.

While there are three main reasons for deeming the headquarters a historic building, one of the main reasons is because everyone knows the building, and it was unlikely the community would allow developers to come in and take it down.  

And according to the article, the olive branch appears to be paying off, with residents now excited about the prospect of using the lawn as community space.

Since a lot of these stories are still developing, be sure to check back throughout the week for more details.

For now, enjoy the start of your week.

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CoreLogic: Home prices jump 6.7% annually in July

Home prices increased once again in July, making more than one-third of the top 100 U.S. cities overvalued, according to the latest Home Price Index from CoreLogic, property information, analytics and data-enabled solutions provider.

Home prices increased 6.7% in July annually from July 2016 and 0.9% monthly from June, CoreLogic’s HPI showed.

Click to Enlarge

home prices

(Source: CoreLogic)

CoreLogic also predicted home prices will increase 5% by July 2018 and 0.4% in August, according to the HPI Forecast. The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“In July, home price growth in the Pacific Northwest and mountain states led the nation with the highest appreciation rates,” CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said. “The sharp increase in prices in Washington and Utah has been especially striking, with home price growth in both states accelerating by 3% points since the beginning of this year.”

CoreLogic found out of the country’s top 100 metropolitan areas, 34% became overvalued in July, according to its Market Conditions Indicators data. The MCI showed 28% of the top markets were undervalued and 38% were at value.

The MCI analysis categorizes home prices in individual markets as undervalued, at value or overvalued by comparing home prices to their long-run, sustainable levels, which are supported by local market fundamentals, such as disposable income.

“Home prices in July continued to rise at a solid pace with no signs of slowing down,” CoreLogic President and CEO Frank Martell said. “The combination of steadily rising purchase demand along with very tight inventory of unsold homes should keep upward pressure on home prices for the remainder of this year.”

“While mortgage interest rates remain low, affordability cracks are emerging as over a third of U.S. top cities are now overvalued,” Martell said.

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Mortgage industry unites together to support Hurricane Harvey relief

As one of biggest industries that touches nearly everyone in America, the housing industry quickly assembled together to give back to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

From financial relief for homeowners to gathering supplies to donate, the industry is working in overdrive to make sure the people in Houston and surrounding areas get the support they need to rebuild.

This is by no means a complete list of lenders who are giving back. If you were not mentioned and have a way for people to support you in your efforts, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

HousingWire, like much of the rest of the industry, and America, is dedicated to helping in the relief process where possible.

Below is a handful of ways the industry is donating to help in the relief, along with ways you as a reader can help.

Fort Mill, South Carolina-based Movement Mortgage is selling custom-made #heartsforhouston T-shirts that will raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

The shirts, as seen in the picture below, have an outline of Texas and the words, “Texas-Sized Hearts for Houston.”  The cost is $20 and all the proceeds go to hurricane relief efforts.


Thanks to the Movement Foundation underwriting the cost of the shirts, the full $20 goes directly to disaster relief.

“Our hope is that this shirt campaign not only delivers much needed financial support, but awareness as well,” Movement CEO Casey Crawford. “Jesus noted the great foundational commandments in Mark 12, with the second being ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ This immediately comes to mind when I see corporate America rallying in such an impactful way during these tragic times.”

The shirts will only be for sale through Sept. 8 and can be found for sale here.

Coppell, Texas-based Caliber Home Loans announced it partnered with the American Red Cross to provide shelter and supplies to families affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The lender established a matching gift program for all Caliber Home Loans employee donations received through October.

“As a Texas-based company, we’re proud to be able to support those in need within the Gulf area – both in our state and beyond,” said Sanjiv Das, CEO of Caliber Home Loans.

On top of quickly assembling its first response team to assist customers and process claims related to the storm, the Assurant Foundation, the charitable arm of Assurant, donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross for its Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. 

The Assurant Foundation also will match 2-for-1 all Assurant employee contributions made to the American Red Cross through September.

“Since Harvey made landfall, our employees have been working to support customers with property damaged by this unprecedented hurricane, always focusing on how we can best help them navigate the many hardships storms like this can bring,” said Michael Campbell, president of Assurant’s Global Home business unit. “We are only beginning to see the extent of the vast devastation caused by this disaster and want our customers to know that we are committed to assisting them through the recovery and rebuilding process.”

Coming to aide in the relief in a different way, Notarize is offering free notarizations to those impacted.

“Like many in America, we’ve wondered both individually and collectively how we can do our part to help. Frankly, we weren’t exactly sure what that would be, but our team has been searching for ways we could make life even a little easier for those who have lost everything,” the company said in a blog post.

As the situation in Houston unfolded Notarize learned that there are several forms that must be notarized after a natural disaster.

While Notarize said it doesn’t know all of the forms, FEMA or other federal, state or local government agencies may require some forms. For example, FEMA may require savings bond replacement forms to be notarized.

As a result of the growing need for notarizations, Notarize said, “If you are a flood victim or suffered other damage from the storm and need a Federal, State or Local agency form notarized, we will offer the notarization to you for free.” For more information on this, check out the Notarize blog here.

Donations, like the ones listed above, have poured in from all across the financial industry.

BBVA Compass, whose holding company is headquartered in Houston and which has a significant presence in the city, announced Monday that its foundation will donate $250,000 to the American Red Cross and the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund to aid disaster recovery efforts in Texas.  It also plans to raise, online and at its branches, up to $250,000 in employee and customer contributions to the two organizations for a total contribution of up to $500,000.

The big banks also stepped up to help with Bank of America, Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase all pledging $1 million to help in the relief efforts.

Homebuilder Lennar also pledged at least $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston Flood Relief Fund to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Beyond the immediate $1 million donation to the fund, it will also match contributions dollar-for-dollar made by its 9,000 associates nationwide.

And lastly, we here at HousingWire wanted to support our Texas neighbors however possible. For the entire month of September, HousingWire is going to donate 50% of all new magazine subscriptions to hurricane relief. In order to purchase a magazine subscription, go here.

HousingWire’s donation, along with the others listed above, is only a small portion of the growing amount of the ways America is giving back. Whether it’s a buying a shirt, sending food or donating money, Houston can use all the support it can get as America rallies together to help.

For more ways to help the victims of the storm, the Houston Chronicle has details on how to donate to the Red Cross and other information.

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Auction.com helps buyers and sellers execute disposition strategy


For 10 years, Auction.com has leveraged technology and the expertise of industry veterans to provide buyers and sellers with a transparent, streamlined auction process. Today, Auction.com continues to build onto this proven platform to make the auction experience better for all.  

Auction logoAs the nation’s largest real estate online marketplace, Auction.com is uniquely positioned to help sellers and buyers execute a complete end-to-end disposition strategy. By utilizing the latest, most innovative mobile and emerging technology, Auction.com helps sellers remove distressed assets from their balance sheets, save in operational and financial costs and contribute to the stabilization of neighborhoods.

Additionally, buyers and sellers alike have access to the industry’s most experienced team of professionals —providing valuable industry insight and specific use cases to help them successfully leverage the auction process.  

“The experience of our team members allows Auction.com to provide out-of-the-box thinking that challenges the industry norm and produce the best results for buyers and sellers,” Colleen Lambros, chief marketing officer at Auction.com, said.  

Unlike traditional methods, Auction.com successfully markets and sells properties in all 50 states, and its established presence during on-site auction events — paired with the broad reach of its digital marketing efforts — creates a more competitive sales environment. With this sophisticated marketing strategy, Auction.com reaches millions of global buyers who continue to collectively bring billions of dollars in liquidity to the marketplace. Auction box

The company leverages key market intelligence, including seller asset information, historical customer behavioral data, public records, and attorney information, among others, to establish optimal pricing and selling strategies. With this market intelligence, Auction.com supports the disposition of properties regardless of its stage in the distressed properties’ lifecycle. 

This level of dedication has earned Auction.com the trust of many first-time and returning buyers, enabling the site to attract up to 35 times more traffic than its leading competitor and boasting significantly more engaged buyers as well.

Auction.com enhances efficiencies by supporting properties that range from foreclosure to REO. By leveraging the platform, Auction.com enables a greater degree of visibility, which aids sellers in disposing their assets sooner during live auction sale events or online auction sale events for REO disposition. 

“Due to the robust marketing capacity and data intelligence, Auction.com can help reduce disposition timelines, relieving the seller of the liability and compliance risks associated with holding, managing, and preserving REO properties,” Lambros said.

Auction.com continues to expand its market reach across the globe by educating buyers and marketing assets. In doing so, Auction.com creates an auction environment unlike any other in the industry.

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Chronos Solutions innovates tax monitoring and lien release services


Working with local banks and credit unions in the Pacific Northwest as a flood determination provider, Chronos Solutions (formerly UPF Services) recognized the need to provide a tax monitoring service to assist those clients in mitigating their risk of delinquent taxes within their servicing portfolios. Building on 25 years of expertise when they acquired UPF Services, Chronos now provides services nationwide, including full tax outsourcing functions.

Chronos logo“We are a nationwide tax services company that takes a consultative approach with this service,” said Chronos Solutions CEO Mark Hikel. “This approach helps address our clients’ risk tolerance in a nimble fashion, while providing the leading tax service in the nation.”

Chronos’ real estate tax monitoring service is tailored for each client, enabling them to select annual monitoring or monitoring after each tax cycle. Full outsourcing services are also available. Chronos reports 65 data points to clients when delinquencies are found, including tax sale information. Because the company identifies high-risk counties and states by client, it can provide an action plan when delinquencies are discovered. 

The responsibility for monitoring the details of how and when taxes need to be paid is shifted from the servicer to Chronos, along with the liability of having to pay penalties and interest. Chronos box1

“Clients enjoy the freedom of not needing to maintain the nationwide tax experience required to successfully pay/monitor taxes,” Hikel said. 

In another innovation, the company’s lien release services allow users to manage order status in real time using Chronos’ interactive technology platform. Customers no longer have to locate hardcopy images of deeds or mortgages to send to Chronos to process, they can simply provide the company with the recording information and then Chronos locates the image to prepare the lien release. 

And because Chronos e-records in over 1,800 recording counties nationwide, it can e-record within days of preparing the lien release.

“We are a nimble company that can adjust to customers’ specific needs regarding lien release processes and reporting needs in a timely fashion,” Hikel said. Chronos box2

Chronos tracks lien release order requests by their state compliance regulation from either the paid in full date, or date received, based on the date from which the state regulations starts the compliance clock. Its work queues are then designed to accommodate the process of orders first which are within 10 days of being out of compliance to ensure they are recorded.

“Clients benefit from the proactive approach we take in managing their orders based on state regulations, which ensures they are not out of compliance — resulting in reject rates that are less than 1%,” Hikel said.