Monthly Archives: March 2017

Growth projections unchanged despite political tensions

As tension mounts in Washington, Fannie Mae kept its annual growth predictions unchanged for 2017.

The company explained even a potential government shutdown won’t be enough to derail the projected growth.

And a government shutdown isn’t the only political tension lingering. Fannie Mae also mentioned the looming geopolitical tensions which pose risks to the economy.

Fannie Mae held its economic forecast steady at 2% for the year, according to the August 2017 Economic and Housing Outlook report from Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research Group.

“We are keeping our full-year economic growth outlook at 2% as risks to our forecast are roughly balanced,” Fannie Mae Chief Economist Doug Duncan said. “On the upside, consumer spending growth might not moderate as much as we have accounted for in our forecast.”

“A build-up in inventory also should be positive for growth this quarter and nonresidential investment in structures will likely continue to improve as oil prices stabilize,” Duncan said. “In addition, the decline in the dollar and a pickup in global growth should support manufacturing and exports, although the outlook for the trade sector is clouded by uncertainty surrounding trade policy.”

The economy increased by 1.9% in the first half of this year, however Fannie Mae predicts the growth will increase to 2.1% during the second half. Fannie Mae attributes the expected pickup in growth to consumer spending and business investment. After subtracting sizably from growth last quarter, residential investment also will likely be a modest contributor during the second half of the year.

However, there are still setbacks the economy could experience through the second half of the year.

“Headwinds include tax policy uncertainty that could delay business investment, the risk of a partial government shutdown this fall if Congress fails to pass spending appropriations, a technical default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, and an increase in global political unease,” Duncan said. “However, we believe these headwinds and tailwinds essentially net out overall, and we stand by our view that economic growth will remain on track for 2% in 2017.”

Growth across online real estate businesses

Altisource has announced the appointment of Marcello Mastioni to the newly formed position of president, real estate marketplace.

Mastioni will join Altisource’s executive team in the company’s Luxembourg headquarters. He will be responsible for driving growth by focusing on digital experience and strategy across Altisource’s consumer- and investor-focused marketplaces including Owners.comand Hubzu, a 2017 HousingWire Tech100 winner.

“We’ve built an impressive portfolio of unique online real estate capabilities, and there continues to be an incredible market opportunity to bring greater transparency, ease and other improvements to the home buying and selling experience,” said William Shepro, chief executive officer of Altisource. “Marcello’s digital expertise has enabled him to substantially grow online brands in their respective categories, and we are looking forward to him working to replicate this success at Altisource as he accelerates our growth across our online real estate businesses.”

Mastioni is joining Altisource from HomeAway, where he served as the vice president and managing director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, overseeing the company’s operations throughout those regions of the world. Prior to HomeAway, Mastioni was the director of strategy and business development for Expedia. Earlier in his career, Mastioni was the head of retail and consumer goods industries at the World Economic Forum and led the operations of a technology business for General Electric.

“Online marketplaces have revolutionized many industries, and real estate is the next big opportunity,” said Mastioni. “Altisource has invested in the technology and talent and has the industry expertise to be the leader in online real estate transactions for consumers and investors.”

Mend your broken heart

It was love at first sight.

Scott and his wife had found the perfect home. It was within their $250K budget, in a great neighborhood close to a good school, and only a short drive away from work. They decided to make an offer immediately after the first viewing, and, because they were pre-qualified for a loan, directed their agent to prepare their bid.

A few hours later they got the call they’d been waiting for – only it was bad news.

“The seller has accepted a cash offer, I’m sorry,” their agent said.

And just like that, the couple went from love at first sight to heartbreak.

As a Realtor for ERA iRealty in Plano, Texas, I see this loan-versus-cash-bid scenario play out every day. And it’s not just Plano. It’s happening across Texas, where the real estate market is hot and inventory only stands for 35 days, but you can still snatch beautiful homes in up and coming communities for as low as $200,000. For many prospective homeowners in Texas, the bidding war is no joke – properties sell within hours and it’s not uncommon to have 15-20 bids on one home.

Over the last five years, cash buyers – most of whom are out-of-state investors looking to convert homes into rental properties – have begun to disrupt the loan-dominated financing model and give families looking to buy homes a real run for their money. Most of the race is happening with homes that offer the most for the least – good home, good neighborhood, good price – usually $250,000 or less. In that price range, on average, for every 10 homes sold, four are sold to cash bidders and six are sold to loan bidders – almost an equal split.

In Collin County, one of the state’s most in-demand markets thanks to an influx of new residents chasing jobs at Toyota, JPMorgan Chase, Liberty Mutual, FedEx or one of the other firms fueling the economy, this bidding war is both familiar and disheartening.

But money doesn’t always talk louder in the form of a bill.

Here are six ways I’ve helped homeowners win a loan-backed bid against a cash offer:

1. Work closely with your lender:

I mean very closely – to the point of having their cell phone number memorized. Your lender is a vital piece of this puzzle – make sure you know exactly what you need to have to make a complete bid.

2. Get fully approved for a loan:

Being pre-qualified is not enough in a competitive market, where waiting several days – or even hours, in some cases – to get fully approved for a loan can cost you the home of your dreams. So before you bid, get your loan approved contingent on appraisal of the home value. Taking this one extra step will put you on the same footing as cash bidders in the eyes of the seller’s agent, who will see your approval ‘as good as cash.’

3. Have your lender call the seller’s agent to give them peace of mind about your bid:

A phone call immediately after bid submission from your lender can go a long way in reassuring the seller that your loan-backed bid really is as good as cash, especially if it is coming from a trusted, certified third party.

4. Write a personalized letter to the seller expressing your interest in the home:

When you have a seller who is attached to their property and interested in seeing it go to the right buyer, a personalized letter could be the strategic advantage that gets you a winning bid. In many cases, cash offers are made by investors looking to either flip the home or convert it to a rental property. If you are a couple looking to raise a family in that home, stating that intention in the letter could appeal to the seller’s emotional side and close the deal in your favor.