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Real Estate

Building components can be hazardous

for sale sign outside houseIt’s not unusual that new materials are produced to make construction and system installations easier, less expensive, and/or safer. However, once in a while, it’s found that the component may fail or can become dangerous as it ages or if it’s installed improperly. Examples of such materials include FRT plywood, polybutylene pipe, Chinese drywall, and most recently CSST.

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Maintenance-free living is a real possibility

for sale sign outside houseI talk about home maintenance quite a bit. And there is a reason. Maintaining your home is important, not just to keep you comfortable but to also preserve your investment. But many people loath the idea of spending their weekend checking their home’s systems, replacing air filters, mowing the yard, washing the siding, cleaning appliances, ad nauseum. 

They are called chores for a reason. But maybe sometime in the near future we will eliminate the need of regular home maintenance.

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Are home inspections becoming irrelevant?

for sale sign outside houseI have heard an increasing voice of discontent over home inspections. Not just from home sellers and their agents, but from home buyers too! Home sellers often complain about the incorrect flagging of working components as being defective. Listing agents usually gripe that home inspectors scare buyers and interfere with their sale. But many home buyers are also growing dissatisfied with inspections and the property reports they are given. 

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Incentives for Maryland first-time home buyers

for sale sign outside houseMaryland first-time home buyers may soon have another program to help them buy a home. 

Two related bills are making their way through the Maryland General Assembly to create a first-time home buyer savings account. If enacted, Maryland would join a handful of other states that have already enacted such programs to incentivize home buying.

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Getting ready for the real estate disruptors

for sale sign outside houseI recently wrote about companies that are going through identity crises. Are they real estate companies or are they technology companies? Regardless, the big name real estate disruptors have changed the industry. Today’s home buyers are in control of their home search. Additionally, agent commissions are viewed much differently than they have been in the past. But the recent trend of real estate companies touting themselves as technology companies may be a signal that large real estate brokerages want more change. But are they mistaking the map for the territory?

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Housing likely unaffected by stock correction

for sale sign outside houseThe recent Wall Street volatility has triggered many into proclaiming that the sky is falling. Even some experts have speculated how the recent stock market activity would spill over to consumer spending, including the housing market. Reporting such as Jacob Passy’s recent article titled “Could Stock Market Volatility Cause House Prices to Fall?” (Marketwatch.com; February 8, 2018) makes for good clickbait. However, the details of the article would suggest otherwise. The consensus is that the recent Wall Street activity is not likely to impact the housing market.

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Flying under the radar once again

for sale sign outside houseMonday’s Reuters “exclusive” report about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau dropping their investigation on the Equifax data breach caused quite a stir in DC (Exclusive: U.S. consumer protection official puts Equifax probe on ice – sources: reuters.com February 5, 2018). The exclusive cited unnamed sources. However, a spokesperson for Transunion (a credit repository) suggested that cybercrime is not within the jurisdiction of the CFPB. 

Later that day, Reuters cited Democratic Senators’ concerns and outrage over the alleged investigation pullback. The next day, Reuters reported that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin desired to meet with CFPB’s Acting Director Mick Mulvaney, based on its initial reports of dropping the Equifax investigation. In the same report, Reuters cited the CFPB’s spokesperson saying that the CFPB was working with other government agencies on the Equifax data breach.

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Finding a rental is not that easy folks

for sale sign outside houseSome housing experts are excited about the recent one-half of one percent uptick in the homeownership rate, saying it’s at a three year high. The Census’ most recent release of the Quarterly Residential Vacancies and Homeownership described the move as “not statistically different” from the previous quarter or year (census.gov). 

Essentially, the homeownership rate remains historically low. This dovetails with the Census’ most recent renter moving data indicating that the percentage of renters who moved in 2017 was the lowest since 1988. 

So, it should not be a surprise that rents are on the rise, and it’s becoming even more difficult to find a rental.

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The neutering of the Internet in 2018

for sale sign outside houseThe National Association of Realtors has always championed net neutrality. They have argued that net neutrality was a means for internet fairness for small businesses and consumers. A recent article for Realtor Magazine (the official magazine of the NAR) by Robert Freedman hits the same talking points of many recent NAR articles and statements (How FCC Plan to End Net Neutrality Hurts You; realtormag.realtor.org; November 21, 2017). Freedman wrote that a reversal of net neutrality rules would “make it harder for real estate companies, multiple listing services, and property data aggregators to provide their serices in a cost-effective way.”
 
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Bitcoin will change future real estate deals

for sale sign outside houseIs a Bitcoin mortgage in your future? Probably not. Mortgages will not be in Bitcoin in the near future.

But that doesn’t mean that the technology that underlies cryptocurrencies won’t be making the real estate transaction cheaper and more efficient.

Brad Finkelstein reported on the difficulties of a Bitcoin mortgage (Virtually No Chance Soon for Any Bitcoin Denominated Mortgages; National Mortgage News, 2014).

Cryptocurrencies have a history of volatility, Bitcoin most recently lost about a third of its value (see: Bitcoin at crossroads after shedding more than $27 billion in value; marketwatch.com; September 14, 2017). Instability of the currency is a major issue for a thirty-year mortgage.

Finkelstein stated that such short-term losses could cause the mortgage holder to “lose their shorts,” and cause the borrower to default. He also pointed out that regulatory hurdles will be difficult to transcend, stating that mortgage rules and closing disclosures are calculated in dollars. Not to mention the difficulty of appraising a home’s value in Bitcoin. Additionally, all parties that are part of the transaction (such as appraisers) need to accept payment in Bitcoin.

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