NAR: 31% of Realtors say they feel unsafe at open houses


Real estate agent safety has been a concern for years, as the job requires showing empty homes or homes occupied by others, and meeting new people, often alone.

As September is Realtor Safety Month, the National Association of Realtors has released its 2020 Member Safety Report.

According to the report, 31% of Realtors said they feel unsafe during an open house or showings, and 27% said they feel unsafe when meeting a new client for the first time at a scheduled location or property.

Those fears are not unfounded. Just this week, NAR reported that a real estate agent in Draper, Utah, was showing what she thought was a vacant house for sale to a potential buyer. Behind one locked bedroom door in the basement, however, they found a man holding a rifle, according to police reports. The man allegedly told the agent and potential buyer to get off the property.

Realtors also have to contend with the people they allow into house. While conducting an open house, 3% reported theft of prescription drugs and 32% reported theft of opioids. While giving a home tour, 2% reported theft of prescription drugs and 16% reported theft of opioids.

Thirty-five percent reported they encountered a crime after receiving a threatening or inappropriate email, text message, phone call, or voicemail, and 17% said they encountered a crime during an open house.

Fear for their personal safety or safety of their personal information was a common concern, with 35% of female Realtors in suburban or metro/urban areas saying they had this fear.

This year, more female Realtors are carrying self-defense weapons or tools than last year – in 2020, 50% of women are carrying a self-defense weapon or tool while 46% of male Realtors do the same. In 2019, it was 49% of female Realtors and 45% of male Realtors.

Seventy-two percent of Realtors said that they have personal safety protocols in place that they follow with every client.

More agents are sharing their whereabouts with others than last year in total – 58% of members said they use a smartphone safety app to track where they are and share their location with colleagues. Most commonly, 36% used the Find My iPhone feature. The report said that 64% of women are more likely to use an app or safety notification procedure, compared to 47% of men.

NAR offers a Realtor safety course, which 29% of the Realtors said they have participated in. Women were more likely to take the course, at 33%, while 21% of men took it. Of those who have taken the course, 79% said they feel more prepared for unknown situations after taking it.



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Denver real estate agent fired for removing Black Lives Matter signs from front yards


A Denver-based real estate agent has been fired after removing Black Lives Matter signs from front yards, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

It all started when a resident in a Denver neighborhood was walking his dog and noticed the agent, Denice Reich, removing the Black Lives Matter signs from the neighborhood where she lives and sold homes.

The resident posted on the Hilltop neighborhood’s page on the Nextdoor app, and other residents also posted, accusing Reich of taking down the signs on Aug. 1, according to RE/MAX Alliance Owner Chad Ochsner, who confirmed the information to local news outlet 9NEWS. In Denver, removing a sign from someone’s yard is considered petty theft.

Reich was fired from RE/MAX Alliance on Aug. 3, where she worked since 1973, specializing in luxury homes.

“We’re not a company that can condone trespassing on people’s private property and theft,” Ochsner told the news outlet. “For us, it doesn’t matter what the politics is.”

Denver news outlet ABC7 got in touch with Reich, where she admitted to taking two signs from neighbors but returned them hours later. Reich also claimed that the signs were as offensive as “KKK” signs and called the Black Lives Matter movement a “terrorist organization” out to destroy America, and said her Trump signs have been removed from her yard multiple times.

Reich’s profile has been removed from RE/MAX Alliance’s website. The website for Reich and Stephanie Goldammer on realtor.com and thier Facebook page remain, however, their website callitsold.com is “currently in maintenance mode.”



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Seattle’s eviction moratorium extended for the third time


Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan extended the city’s eviction moratorium for the third time on Friday, giving residential and commercial renters a reprieve on payments through December.

Seattle’s first moratorium was passed in March, originally set to last through May 15. Then it was extended through June 4, then again through August 1.

In July, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee extended the state’s eviction moratorium through October 15.

Earlier this month, the Washington State Department of Commerce distributed about $100 million in state funding via the CARES Act, through its network of homeless services grantees and organizations serving homeless youth to operate a new rent assistance program.

This program is set to focus on preventing evictions and paying up to three months of past due, current and future rent to landlords who are eligible. This program ends on Dec. 31.

These funds will go to tenants who earn less than 50% of the area median income, have missed at least one rental payment since March and match other indicators of housing insecurity, the Seattle Times said.

“Funds addressing Washington’s homelessness crisis were limited before the pandemic, and the need is deepening as this pandemic continues to push more people toward the brink while we work to carefully reopen our economy,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown in a statement. “We are targeting limited resources as quickly and equitably as possible, to those with the greatest needs.”

Nationwide, just 79.3% of apartment households made a full or partial rent payment by Aug. 6, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council’s Rent Payment Tracker.



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People movers: Notarize, RE/MAX and Planet Home Lending


Notarize has brought on Wendy Ivanoski as its vice president of Enterprise Strategy and Nicole Booth as executive vice president of Public Affairs.

Ivanoski has 17 years of experience in the financial services industry, including time at State Street Corporation and Santander Bank.

A former Quicken Loans executive, Booth has over 15 years of experience working in state and federal government bodies, focusing on transforming the mortgage industry through technology.

RE/MAX announced it has promoted industry veterans Amy Lessinger as vice president of Business Growth, West Region and Kevin Northrup to vice president, Business Growth, Northeast Region.

Lessinger is a founding principal and broker/owner of RE/MAX Realty in Nevada, having built a team of 130 agents in three offices over the span of 22 years. For the last 16 years, the brokerage ranked as Northern Nevada’s highest-producing real estate office by agent activity.

Northrup joined RE/MAX in 2002 as a franchise development consultant, then moving up to senior franchise development consultant and assistant regional director before being promoted in 2005 to region vice president of RE/MAX Pacific Northwest; in 2012, Northrup took leadership of the RE/MAX Central Atlantic and RE/MAX Carolinas Region; in June 2014, he was promoted to region executive vice president, RE/MAX California & Hawaii; in January 2016, he was promoted to region executive vice president with oversight over several regions; and in February 2019, was named vice president, Business Growth.

Planet Home Lending has promoted four people to vice president positions, supporting the company’s continual growth.

Michaelene Whyte has been promoted from processing manager of the East to VP, national fulfillment, distributed retail, and has been with Planet Home Lending since October 2018. Stephanie Gibbons has been promoted from AVP and underwriting manager of distributed retail to VP, national underwriting manager, distributed retail. Gibbons has been with Planet Home Lending since September 2019.

Lauren Reames has been promoted from processing manager of retention to VP, national fulfillment, retention. Reames started as a processor with Planet Home Lending in July 2017. Nicole Berg has been promoted from AVP and underwriting manager of retention to VP, national underwriting Manager, retention. Berg joined Planet Home Lending in September 2013.



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New York extends eviction moratorium again


New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended the state’s eviction moratorium again, as many fear being kicked out of their homes after the federal eviction moratorium and unemployment benefits ended late last month.

In March, the State of New York Unified Court System put in place the first eviction moratorium, effective through June. In May, this was extended but expired on August 5. On Wednesday, it was extended through September 4.

Last week, the New York Department of Homes and Community Renewal extended the state’s rental relief program, allowing renters struggling financially due to COVID-19 to apply for assistance through August 6.

According to Eyewitness News ABC 7 in New York, Cuomo said there will be “no evictions as long as we are in the middle of the epidemic” as he signed a 30-day extension of the eviction moratorium amid the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo also said he intends to extend the moratorium “until I say COVID is over.”

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio also signed an emergency executive order on Wednesday, tweeting out that “NO New Yorker should lose their home because they lost their income. It’s a tough time for many families. The pandemic has hit this country HARD,” offering a resource for renters.

In June, protesters across New York called for eviction moratoriums to be extended, but the federal eviction moratorium and unemployment benefit expired in late July.

States like New York have taken action while the federal government debates what to do. The House of Representatives has proposed two different pieces of legislation that address unemployment and other benefits as COVID-19 spreads.

The HEROES Act contains $200 billion of additional funding to consumers, including assistance making mortgage and rent payments.

The HEALS Act doesn’t include an extension of eviction moratoriums and offers $3.2 billion for housing, which includes $2.2 billion for tenant-based rental assistance and $1 billion for a public housing operating fund.



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Zillow announces partnership with homebuilder D.R. Horton


Zillow has announced a partnership with homebuilder D.R. Horton, allowing buyers of new construction homes to sell their current homes directly to Zillow through its iBuying solution, Zillow Offers.

D.R. Horton customers selling their current home through Zillow Offers receive an extended closing timeline of up to eight months, and the flexibility to modify the closing date to better align both transactions, the iBuyer said.

“We are excited to partner with Zillow to bring more convenience and flexibility to the home-buying experience,” said Donald R. Horton, chairman of D.R. Horton, in a statement. “This is a great opportunity to provide our customers with new options to streamline the process of selling their existing home, and help them move into their new D.R. Horton home more efficiently.”

With Zillow Offers, sellers can avoid prepping their home for sale and hosting open houses or showings. Sellers start the process by answering a few questions about their home, upload photos and receive an offer in about 48 hours.

D.R. Horton homebuyers who sell their home via Zillow Offers may also be eligible to receive cash credits at closing on top of free local moving services.

This partnership will be marketed on all D.R. Horton home listings on Zillow.

“Buying a new home is an exciting time, and we’re proud to collaborate with the nation’s largest home builder to help people unlock life’s next chapter,” said Arik Prawer, president of the Zillow Homes Division in a statement.



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People movers: LBA Ware, Guaranteed Rate Affinity, Transnation Title Agency, Interfirst Mortgage and Total Expert


LBA Ware has named Brian Jordan as its director of product management.

Jordan has 13 years of experience in global data aggregation and analytics firms, serving the banking and financial services sectors. Prior to LBA Ware, Jordan was a lead product manager at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.

Jim Anderson has been named as the senior vice president of strategic growth at Guaranteed Rate Affinity.

Anderson has over 30 years of experience in the mortgage industry, specializing in business development, strategic sales and risk management.

Prior to Guaranteed Rate Affinity, Anderson served in executive-level business development and sales director roles for multiple large players within the industry.

Transnation Title Agency has brought on Lavinia Biasell, its first chief legal officer. Biasell joins with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

Biasell previously worked for Fidelity National Financial as an underwriter for all of Fidelity’s Michigan title agents, as well as Maddin, Hauser, Roth & Heller, P.C., where she served as a partner at the firm representing clients in a variety of title legal matters.

Mike Tague has returned to Interfirst Mortgage Company as vice president, Western Division Production for the wholesale channel. Tague first joined Interfirst in 2011.

With 30 years of experience in the mortgage industry, Tague spent 25 years building sales teams, expanding branch operations and growing existing markets in the wholesale channel.

Tague has held the position of vice president of wholesale at numerous lenders including The Money Source, Peoples Home Equity, Ethos Lending and Finance of America Mortgage.

Total Expert has brought on Kevin Dotzenrod as vice president of Engineering and Laura Theodore as vice president of Customer Success.

Dotzenrod has over 20 years of software development, technical architecture, and engineering expertise, leading engineering and technology teams at some of the most recognized companies in finance and retail, including Target, Amazon and Dow Jones.

Most recently, Dotzenrod served as director of engineering at Target.

Theodore has over 14 years of experience leading profitable customer success and support teams for high-growth software companies internationally.

Theodore currently serves as a strategic advisor to several software companies, having most recently served as general manager at StreetSmart and as senior director of Global Support Services at ClickSoftware.



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Low inventory means higher prices for California’s housing market


The California housing market rebounded in June with the largest month-to-month sales increase in nearly 40 years, and California’s median home price hit its own record high, the California Association of Realtors said.

After the statewide median home price fell below $600,000 in May, it rose to $626,170 in June, which was up 2.5% from June 2019. This makes it the highest recorded May-to-June average, CAR said.

Existing single-family home sales totaled 339,910 in June on a seasonally adjusted annualized rate, up 42.4% from May and down 12.8% from June 2019.

Homes priced below $500,000 made up 48% of total sales in May 2020, but only made up 44% of all sales in June 2020. Sales of million-dollar properties, on the other hand, increased in market share to 18.1% in the most recent month compared with 15.6% in May 2020.

“A new record high in the statewide median price suggests that there is stronger housing demand from more qualified, affluent buyers in this extremely favorable lending environment,” CAR Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young said in a statement.

Meanwhile, year-to-date statewide home sales were down 12.9% in June.

“Home sales bounced back solidly in June after hitting a record bottom in May, as lockdown restrictions loosened and pent-up demand driven by record-low interest rates roared back,” said CAR President Jeanne Radsick in a statement. “While the momentum is expected to be sustained as we kick off the third quarter, the resurgence in coronavirus cases remains a concern and may hinder the market recovery in the second half of the year.”

Just about half of the counties tracked by CAR, 26 out of 51 to be exact, had a year-over-year loss in closed sales. Mono County had the highest decline by far, down 40%. Napa County trailed, going down 28.2%. 

As a response to the pent-up demand from the delay of home-buying season, median home prices in the Central Valley rose 7.4% from last year, CAR said. Home prices in Southern California also rose 3.3% from the year prior. 

Speaking of pent-up demand, housing supply continued to trend downward on a year-over-year basis as well, CAR said. Active listings fell more than 25% for the seventh month in a row and active listings sank 43%. 

Across the state, all areas had housing supply decline more than 30% from the year prior, CAR said. More specifically, Southern California had the biggest drop in supply, as for-sale listings fell 47.3% year over year.

CAR conducted a Google poll earlier this month that revealed 44% of consumers said it was a good time to sell, up from 40% a month ago, and slightly down from 49% a year ago.

Likewise, 31% of consumers said now is a good time to buy a home compared to the 23% who said the same thing last year.



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These housing markets are most vulnerable to pandemic impacts


In a second-quarter report from ATTOM Data Solutions, it was revealed that housing markets most at risk due to the economic impact of COVID-19 are located on the east coast.

More specifically, 11 suburban counties around New York City, five around Washington, D.C. and four around Baltimore are more at risk, ATTOM said.

Other states stretching from Connecticut to Florida and Illinois were home to 43 of the 50 counties most vulnerable to the economic impact of the pandemic.

“Home sales data from around the country is starting to show that eight years of price gains may be coming to an end amid the economic damage flowing from the virus pandemic,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM, in the report. “It’s still too early to make any definitive calls, but the latest numbers show storm clouds gathering over the market.”

West coast states had fewer counties at risk, ATTOM said.

There are four western counties in California, with none in other West Coast or southwestern states, that are considered at risk.

The only western counties among the top 50 most at risk, according to ATTOM, were Humboldt County, California; Madera County, California; Riverside County, California; and Shasta County, California.

“With this second special report on the potential impact of the pandemic, we see pockets around the country that appear more or less poised to withstand downward pressure on prices and other market conditions,” Teta continued. “Over the next few months, enough data should come in to tell us how things will most likely pan out.”

This new information doesn’t stray too far away from ATTOM’s report in April, explaining that the virus had made 14 of New Jersey’s 21 counties the most vulnerable in the U.S. at the time.

The top 50 most vulnerable markets at the time also included four in New York, three in Connecticut, 10 from Florida, only one in California, zero in other West Coast states and only one in the Southwest.

Although there are more at risk markets, 26 of the 50 least vulnerable counties from among the 406 included in the report in Q2 were in Colorado, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin.

The largest included Harris County, Texas, where Houston is; Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties, all located in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, and Travis County, Texas, where Austin is.



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