A benefit to buyers and sellers?

Green Escrow Services | American economy

The National Association of Realtors has agreed to ban MLS listings from including a compensation offer (typically 2.5% to 3%) for the buyer’s agent in a real estate transaction. Since this is almost always built into the asking price, it should mean listings will be slightly lower, which can only help the housing market.

Buyers will have to pay for their own agent representation. but will now be able to negotiate the rate.

If approved, the new law will go into effect in July.

Apartment construction booming except in Bay Area

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Rising to the housing crisis, apartment construction is at a 50-year high – except in the Bay Area which is projected to see a sharp decline in 2022. San Francisco will see a 58 percent drop, San José will only bring half as many units online as in 2021 and Oakland will see a drop of 80 percent.

Analysts cite limited land zoned for apartment construction, complicated environmental reviews, and extended approval processes as main factors in creating serious bottlenecks.

While other cities are seeing a boom as workers return to work, the Bay Area has embraced remote work more than any other major metropolis.

Fannie Mae to help first time homebuyers

The Federal Housing Finance Agency has announced that Fannie Mae is now allowing lenders to factor in an applicant’s rental payment history as part of their credit history which should help those with lower ratings. Up to now, landlords haven’t report rental payment history data to credit reporting firms even though rent is typically the largest single expense.

Using rental payments in underwriting should help many first-time buyers to get a mortgage. It is hoped that expanding credit opportunities through alternative data will help ease the housing crucnh.

Lumber prices continue to rise, adding to housing costs

Green Escrow | New construction, housing

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that lumber prices continue to rise, having increased by more than 170 percent in the last 10 months. Analysts say that the main reason behind the continuing rising cost is tariffs on Canadian lumber shipments.

Not only have the prices for home construction continue to rise, but many builders are putting projects on hold. Estimates are that the increase in lumber prices assed $16,000 to the price of a new home, with that number only continuing to increase.

5.3% of US homes now in forbearance

Green Escrow | Foreclosure

2.787 million of the 53 million mortgages in the United States are now in forbearance according to data by Black Knight, Currently, borrowers can request an initial period of forbearance of 180 days which can be followed by an extension of equal length. During this time, borrowers don’t have to make loan payments and can make up for the payments over time after the forbearance period ends.

it is estimated that up to 550,000 forbearance plans will expire at the end of December. Foreclosure remains relatively low and Federal Housing Finance Authority and Department of Housing and Urban Development accounced plans with week to extend moratoriums on foreclosures and evictions until February 28, 2021.

Air filtration systems likely to become standard in future high-end homes

Green Escrow | New Construction

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, homebuyer’s concern with air quality is likely to mean more air cleaning and ventilation systems in future high-end homes.

These systems would feature indoor sensors that detect a drop in air quality, then increase ventilation to compensate.

Systems are currently being developed that can ventilate, heat, cool, filter, and purify the air in homes and apartment buildings

Your smart home is about to get smarter

Green Escrow Services | Home Technology

in a move to make using smart devices easier to use, tech giants Apple, Amazon, and Google have teamed up with Zigbee Alliance to standardize the protocol of smart home technology.

Calling the group “Project Connected Home over IP” the goal is to make smart home devices “secure, reliable, and seamless to use.”

Fortunately, the planned connectivity standard will work with existing technologies, and device manufacturers will be able to develop products that use the technologies currently available.

IRS clerks allowed to work during shutdown

Green Escrow Legal

After an intense lobbying effort my the mortgage industry 400 furloughed IRS clerks will be allowed to work – and get paid – during the current partial federal government shutdown. These clerks help potential home buyers verify their incomes. Without their work, the $1.3 trillion mortgage industry would be at a standstill.

Many questioned the government’s decision to allow the clerks to work, arguing that while their jobs are important, they are not essential as outlined by the law. It was seen as a favor to a powerful industry.

Government officials responded by saying it was done as a service to consumers trying to buy a home and not as a favor to the mortgage industry.

Poorly designed buildings contributing to obesity

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A New study from the nonprofit Trust of America’s Health states that architectural design of buildings – including homes – are contributing to the obesity crisis. While current trends are placing an increased emphasis on outdoor spaces such as parks, bike lines, and sidewalks, building interiors are seriously lagging behind.

Some cities, such as New York, are adopting “active design guidelines” that are putting greater emphasis on the prominent placement – and use – of stairs and ramps and downplaying the use of elevators and escalators.

It is estimated that the average person spends 90 percent of their time indoors. With obesity at nearly 40 percent of Americans, including 18 percent of children under the age of 18, physical activity must be increased.

Trade tariffs may drive up home prices

Green Escrow | New construction, housing

The national Association of Home Builders is warning that the next round of trade tariffs aimed at China could target close to $10 billion of goods used in home construction. This includes approximately 6,000 imports used in the construction of new home and apartments.

The construction industry is already dealing with a 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber imports from Canada which add thousands of dollars to the cost of a single-family home.

These increases in costs is just another burden on the housing industry which is already dealing with a labor shortage causing many builders to delay or cancel projects.