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A recent Realtors Confidence Index Survey released by the National Association of Realtors gathered information from REALTORS about local real estate market conditions, characteristics of buyers and sellers, and issues affecting homeownership and real estate transactions. The online survey was completed by 4,555 REALTORS from May 1-9, 2018.

Some of the highlights of the report showed that when a closing is delayed, the causes were obtaining financing (30 percent), home inspection / environmental (19 percent), appraisals (18 percent) and title issues (11 percent). Properties were typically on the market for 26 days (down from 29 days a year ago) and cash sales made up 21 percent of all sales (unchanged from 2017).

The average number of listings per agent was 3.2 and the average number of clients taken on a home tour by an agent was 5.1. When it comes to the age of buyers, 47 percent were age 35-55, 31 percent were age 34 and under, and 22 percent were age 56 and older.

For agents and brokers, Facebook is a key marketing spoke. Now, other platforms are on the rise—channels that Generation Z, the next home-buying wave, are flocking to in force.

Generation Z — teenagers today — are connecting not on Facebook, but on Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Facebook has fallen out of favor with Gen Z, with 51 percent usage—a steep tumble from 71 percent three years ago. By comparison, 72 percent are on Instagram, 69 percent are on Snapchat, and 85 percent (the highest share) are on YouTube. When asked which channel they log onto most, Snapchat won with 35 percent of the vote, followed by YouTube (32 percent), Instagram (15 percent) and Facebook (10 percent).

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point today, June 13, 2018 and signaled it might raise rates two more times this year. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the US economy is in “great shape” and that “most people who want to find jobs are finding them.”

In a press release, the Federal Reserve stated that "in view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to raise the target range for the federal funds rate to 1-3/4 to 2 percent. The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation."

Confidence in housing is at a new record, with the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) outdoing its past peak. The boost was ignited by optimism from sellers, who are benefitting from increasing prices. At 92.3, the Index rose 0.6 percentage points month-over-month and 6.1 points year-over-year. 

"The HPSI edged up to another survey high in May, bolstered in part by a fresh record high in the net share of consumers who say it's a good time to sell a home," says Doug Duncan, chief economist and senior vice president at Fannie Mae. "However, the perception of high home prices that underlies this optimism cuts both ways, boosting not only the good-time-to-sell sentiment but also the view that it's a bad time to buy, and presenting a potential dilemma for repeat buyers."

Federal authorities announced today a significant coordinated effort to disrupt Business Email Compromise (BEC) schemes that are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals. Operation Wire Wire, a coordinated law enforcement effort by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, was conducted over a six month period, culminating in over two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity resulting in 74 arrests in the United States and overseas, including 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius and Poland. The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4 million, and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.

Change is coming to the mortgage industry in the form of lessened restrictions for many community banks, along with greater consumer protections. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act—a bill rolls back many Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act regulations imposed in 2008 following the financial crisis—has been signed into law. Just two months after it passed the Senate in a 67-31 vote on March 14, it was voted in by the House on May 22 (248-159), and signed by President Trump on May 24, 2018.

"I applaud my former colleagues in Congress for coming together to pass the most significant financial reform legislation in recent history," said Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in a statement on Thursday. The CFPB has been the Dodd-Frank enforcer since the agency was established in 2011.

Three years after it was announced to the industry, Upstream has launched, first as a direct input in the Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS) in Portland, Ore., and as a broker direct feed for the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service (ARMLS) in Phoenix, and Dallas' North Texas Real Estate Information Systems (NTREIS). The Ann Arbor Area Board of REALTORS® in Michigan, the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABOR) in Texas, the California Regional Multiple Listing Service (CRMLS), NorthstarMLS in Minnesota, Realcomp in Michigan, and West Penn Multi-List in Pennsylvania are all expected to follow.

With the ball now rolling, Upstream anticipates it will add to five to six markets per month—prioritized by broker/MLS participation and market size—and reach 250,000 agents by the end of 2018.

In high-end luxury markets like New York City and Los Angeles, turns out less is often more. Instead of maximizing luxe features like state-of-the-art kitchens and top-dollar fixtures and moldings, sellers are stripping their pads down to bare bones and commanding a higher sales price in the process.

According to a recent article on CNBC.com, the trend is called "white boxing," and it's all the rage among the ultra-affluent who often buy a luxury property only to gut it and redo it in the style that suits their unique design taste and lifestyle. For luxury buyers — who place high value on personalizing a home and making it their own — it's much more appealing to buy a space that's already stripped, as it saves them the time and expense of doing so on their own.

Email is an essential part of conducting business, and especially within the real estate community. From communications with clients to conversations with vendors, email is the fastest way to share information — but it is not always as secure as it should be.

Google is tackling this vulnerability with a web redesign, which looks to solve other workflow challenges, as well. The redesign was rolled out to the first batch of Gmail users on April 26 — they can choose to opt in or out of the new interface for the time being. Google plans to eventually release the new version to all 1.4 billion users.

So, what do these changes mean for the industry?

Ellie Mae recently surveyed more than 3,000 Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers who both own homes and rent to understand their preferences and expectations about getting a home loan. The second annual Ellie Mae Borrower Insights Survey provides deep insights into what consumers are looking for, what drives their homebuying decisions, what is keeping renters from pursuing homeownership and more.

Ellie Mae was particularly interested in these topics as they relate to a digital mortgage experience. This year, we found that consumers across all generations are expecting digital options to be part of their loan process, but would still like the capability and flexibility of speaking to a lender, when needed.