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Forbes ranks Virginia #1 for business

Forbes has ranked Virginia the number-one state for business. We had been #2 since 2009.

This contrasts (or contradicts) the CNBC ranking from earlier this year that had us slip to #5.

Here’s part of what Forbes had to say:

NAR releases its 2013 "Profile of Real Estate Firms"

NAR’s 2013 "Profile of Real Estate Firms" is out (and available free for members), and it’s more than 70 pages of data and stats about real estate firms in the U.S. Here are a few highlights — pick up the full thing through Realtor.org.

* * *

What the firms do: 80% are primarily residential; residential property management, commercial sales, and appraisals are the most popular secondary specialties.

Who owns them: The vast majority are small and independent.

Asking prices are up, but the rising is slowing: Trulia

Every month, Trulia looks at asking prices for homes and asking rents for rentals. And they’ve been going up for a while now.

In its latest report, for example, Trulia found that asking prices were up 11.0 percent in August from a year before (and up 1.2 percent month to month).

But the company adds an important note: It found that the rate of those price jumps was slowing.

When it looked at the numbers in three-month chunks (e.g., May-June-July vs. June-July-August) numbers, it found that price rises were tapering off.

Feb-Mar-Apr: +4.0 percent
May-Jun-Jul: +3.2 percent
Jun-Jul-Aug: +3.0 percent

Fannie Mae to (finally) recognize short sales

Fannie Mae is going to fix a small problem with its software. It turns out, the company’s computers don’t recognize short sales.

What that means is that short sales (which typically keep someone from buying a home for two years) had to be labeled as foreclosures (which typically keep someone from buying a home for seven years).

Oops.

That’s a huge problem in states with high short-sale rates, such as Florida. And that’s why Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) took up the cause. Working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Nelson got Fannie to agree to a fix.

By November 16, people who make short sales will have that properly labeled in Fannie’s system.

Latest proposal effectively ditches QRM requirements for loans

The six federal agencies tasked with coming up with a definition of a Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) have floated another proposal — one that would essentially do away with the QRM definition altogether.

To understand what that means, we need a bit of background, which economist Bill McBride was happy to give, and which I will happily translate.

When it was created, the Dodd-Frank Act had two goals (among others):

1. Protect consumers from predatory lenders

2. Protect investors (notably taxpayers) from unknowingly buying risky loans

Fight the "craigslist scam"

coverAppearing at your doorstep any moment now will be the August/September issue of Commonwealth, with a cover story all about the scams and cons targeting Realtors and real estate. (Hint: You don’t wanna miss it.)

ANYWAY…

Special legal video: Protecting your listings from rental scams

On listing scrapers, copyright, and MLSs

“Industry Cracks Down on Listing Scraping” is the headline of the Realtor magazine story. The gist of it:

Realtor.com said earlier this year that it is making efforts to block automated bots from trying to scrape listing data from its more than 1 million pages per day.

“Scraping happens every day, and it’s something that’s surprisingly inexpensive for cybercriminals to do,” Amit Kulkarni, Move’s creative director, said in a blog post detailing realtor.com’s efforts to curb scraping.

This is actually interesting, but not for the reasons you — and possible Realtor mag — might think.

New NAR survey finds that Americans support home ownership

A new survey from NAR found that consumers are upbeat about housing. They "overwhelmingly believe that buying a home is a good financial decision," and they consider owning a home to be a top priority.

The Housing Pulse Survey found that 80 percent of Americans believe it’s a good idea to buy a home, and that half of renters now consider home ownership "one of their highest personal priorities."

There’s more. Check out the full survey results over at Realtor.org.

Big changes at Realtor.com

imageRealtor.com will soon be changing to better compete with the likes of Trulia, Zillow, and other real estate listing aggregators. That’s the result of a nearly unanimous vote of the NAR board of directors, which has seen Realtor.com’s market share erode in the face of third parties.

The "new" Realtor.com will now…