File this under "got your back": Check out who’s spending the most money lobbying on Capitol Hill, courtesy of OpenSecrets.org:
That’s $8.5 million so far this year. In 2012, NAR spent a total of $41.5 million (and was also the number-two lobbying organization behind the US Chamber).
Once upon a time there were two shamans in a tribe. They both tried to predict how bad the upcoming winter would be. One threw rabbit bones and predicted a harsh winter. The other threw squirrel bones and predicted a mild winter.
The winter was mild, thus proving that throwing squirrel bones was a more accurate way of predicting the weather.
In an unrelated note, there is some speculation that we might be starting to inflate a new housing bubble, as prices are rising more quickly than is typical.
So, are we? Is there a bubble growing?
There are people who insist either yes or no, and have the bones data to prove it. I’m not going down that road. But it’s worth considering the
There are a handful of tax breaks for homeowners who improve the energy efficiency of their homes — essentially, the government reduces your taxes if you make your house greener.
Now a bill introduced in the Senate by senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) would give a different kind of incentive — it would require lenders to take into account the energy-efficient features of a home when calculating a borrower’s income/expense ratio.
Essentially, it would allow buyers to qualify for a larger loan or a better rate if a home is energy efficient.
The National Flood Insurance Program was in the black until Hurricane Katrina; since then it’s been in debt to the tune of about $20 billion. (Which, of course, illustrates why it’s a government program and not offered by private insurers.)
So in 2012 Congress reformed the program to try to keep it from bleeding money.
For example, homes built before 1968 — when the NFIP started — were given lower, "grandfathered" rates. Those are going to be phased out. And homeowners living where the danger of flooding is so extreme that insurance is unaffordable were given subsidies to pay for it. (Yes, that’s correct. People living in the most-flood prone areas were given lower insurance rates.) Those subsidies are also going to be removed.
The Obama administration has extended its Making Home Affordable program, which includes two sub-programs designed to help homeowners refinance so they can stay in their homes.
Making Home Affordable includes the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). It was set to expire at the end of the year, but homeowners now have until December 31, 2015 to apply for modifications.
HAMP: Lenders are giving incentives from the federal government to modify homeowners’ mortgages.
Good news for small local banks and credit unions. After a several months of accepting comments from industry groups and the public, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau made several changes to its ability-to-repay rules — changes that are a boon for smaller lenders.
CFPB’s ability-to-repay rule is the standard that all loans must meet. It explains what a lender must consider when offering a mortgage. It’s to prevent lenders from offering loans to people who can’t afford them. (Click here for the Buzz post that explains it.)
I find this headline from DSNews amusing: "Freddie Mac: Fixed Rates Soar to Highest Level in a Year."
Yep, interest rates have risen almost a half-percent since the beginning of May. Now they are 3.81 percent (assuming 0.8 points). What’s funny is talking about interest rates soaring to 3.81 percent. I remember being thrilled when I got 7.5 percent on my house in Roanoke, way back when!
The point, of course, is that interest rates are showing signs of picking up.
Maybe that will spur more potential buyers into the market ("Honey, we should do it now before mortgages skyrocket to four percent!").
Congrats to Claire Forcier-Rowe of Fredericksburg, who graduated from NAR’s Leadership Academy last week in Washington, D.C.
The Leadership Academy is a seven-month program that trains and develops Realtors from around the country as future leaders in their profession and in their association.
Through training with experts, meetings with NAR leaders, and workshops, the academy members learn to create a more effective connection with their peers and staff, develop their communications skills, and improve their understanding of NAR’s long-term goals.
So once again, congratulations to Claire and the entire 2013 NAR Leadership Academy Class.
At least 16 Realtors lost their homes in the EF-5 (!) tornado that destroyed Moore, Oklahoma on Monday. When things like this happen, the informal — but highly effective — Realtors helping Realtors network springs into action.
The Oklahoma City Association of Realtors is already providing some emergency assistance to Realtors, and now they’re working to help for the longer term, including managing the funds and assistance from other organizations.
You can help through the Oklahoma Housing Foundation Realtor Disaster Relief Fund. It’s run by the non-profit Oklahoma Housing Foundation, and its job is to help Realtors who lose their homes in natural disasters.
Congrats on the raise.
According to NAR’s 2013 Member Profile, Realtors are doing much better this year — earning 24.6 percent more in 2012 than they did in 2011. (That’s two years in a row that Realtor’s income rose.)
Essentially, fewer Realtors + more total sales = more money for each Realtor.
Here are some specifics to mull over: