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New data, same story –home prices are on the rise again

Home prices went up again in May. No, we aren’t surprised either. According to data released by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the median existing home price across all housing types reached a record…

New data, same story –home prices are on the rise again

Home prices went up again in May. No, we aren’t surprised either. According to data released by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the median existing home price across all housing types reached a record high of $350,300 in May. This was an increase of a whopping 23.6% from the same time in 2020. Overall, home prices rose across the entire country for the 111th consecutive month, dating back to March 2012. Sales of existing homes dropped for the fourth straight month, down 0.9 percent from April 2021. Still, existing home sales remain up 44.6% year over year. “Home sales fell moderately in May and are now approaching pre-pandemic activity,” Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, said in a statement. “Lack of inventory continues to be the overwhelming factor holding back home sales, but falling affordability is simply squeezing some first-time buyers out of the market. “The market’s outlook, however, is encouraging. Supply is expected to improve, which will give buyers more options and help tamp down record-high asking prices for existing homes.” That increase in supply has already started to show. The total inventory, according to NAR, was 1.23 million units available, an increase of 7% from April, but still significantly less (20.6%) from May 2020. While the overall supply of homes increased slightly from 2.4 months supply to 2.5 months from April, it is still dangerously low and pales in comparison to the 4.6 months supply from a year earlier. Sales are happening fast and furious. NAR reported almost 90 percent of properties sold in May spent less than one month on the market. The average was 17 days, same as it was in April, but remains much more rapid than a year ago when the average was 26 days on the market. Single family home sales also dipped by 1% from April, but the rate of those sales is still robust, clocking in at a 39.2% increase from the same time a year ago. The median existing single family home price increased again to $356,600, a 24.4% increase from last May. There was no change in existing co-op and condo sales from April to May, but the adjusted annual rate of 720,000 units still marks a 100% increase from the same time in 2020. The median existing condo price is $306,000, a 21.5% increase from May 2020. “NAR continues its advocacy efforts to find new, creative and effective ways to increase housing construction and supply,” NAR President Charlie Oppler said in the report. “The right policies will provide huge benefits to our nation’s economy, and our work to close this gap will be particularly impactful for lower-income households, households of color and first-time buyers.” [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
New collaborative: Three million net new Black homeowners by 2030

A new collaboration between industry and advocacy groups is determined to have three million net new Black homeowners by the year 2030. They announced their formation on the Friday before Juneteenth, a day many businesses…

New collaborative: Three million net new Black homeowners by 2030

A new collaboration between industry and advocacy groups is determined to have three million net new Black homeowners by the year 2030. They announced their formation on the Friday before Juneteenth, a day many businesses closed in recognition of the new Federal Holiday, at a press conference in Cleveland that featured Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown. The new group, known as the Black Homeownership Collaborative (BHC), unveiled their new website (3by30.org) as well as a seven-point plan to accomplish this ambitious goal. The genesis for the creation of this collaborative is that even today, 53 years after the signing of the Fair Housing Act, the Black Homeownership rate has reached levels not seen since housing segregation was legal in the United States. When the housing market crashed in 2008, it created an era known as the Great Recession. In the decade since the end of that recession, Black homeownership has continued to decrease, while groups in other demographics have each seen a substantial recovery. There are myriad reasons for this, including systemic racism and a continued lack of affordable housing in the country. Federal law suppressed homeownership among people of color which piled on top of more traditional hurdles facing first generation homebuyers - such as an inability to afford a down payment on the purchase of a home - and created the homeownership gap that exists today.
“The persistent gap in homeownership rates among Black and white Americans illustrates how racial inequality in our society translates into wealth inequality.”
According to the Federal Reserve Board, less than 20% of Blacks under the age of 35 own a home, a paltry number when compared with whites in the same demographic (41%). And while the gap closes in a little bit in the next age group (50% of Blacks aged 35-54 own a home compared to 70% of whites), five million additional Black homeowners would be needed to be on par with white homeowners. According to the Urban Institute, if structural barriers aren’t addressed, by 2040 the Black homeownership rate will continue to fall, particularly for households in the 45-74 age demographic. “The persistent gap in homeownership rates among Black and white Americans illustrates how racial inequality in our society translates into wealth inequality,” said Bryan Greene, vice president of policy advocacy at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and a member of the BHC steering committee. “NAR is pleased to join this dedicated group of widely-respected organizations in the Black Homeownership Collaborative to pursue our shared goals. “We look forward to continuing our work to secure federal and local-level policies which will raise Black homeownership levels, strengthen communities, and improve the American economy.” The plan, set forth by the BHC, listed seven realistic steps that can make it possible to increase Black Homeownership by the target of 3 million net new homeowners by 2030. These recommendations were put together by more than 100 housing leaders in both the industry and among housing advocacy groups over the past two years, including NAR. They include:
  • Homeownership counselling – This includes pre-purchase counseling, counselling borrowers who have been denied mortgage approval to turn a “no” into a “not yet”, and post-purchase counselling to sustain homeownership. This would also require additional funding for housing counselling agencies which, according to the BHC, are significantly underfunded.
  • Down payment assistance – The legacy of historic denial of homeownership means that Black Americans are less likely to be able to rely on a loan from a family member or sale of an existing home to assist with down payment costs. Research from NAR has found that while almost four out of 10 white Americans – 37% – used the funds from the sale of their primary residence to serve as a down payment for a home, only 21% of Hispanic, 18% of Asian and 17% of Black Americans were able to do so. Black Americans and Hispanic Americans – 15% and 10% – were three and two times more likely, respectively, than white and Asian Americans – 5% each – to tap into their 401(k) or pension funds as a down payment source for a home purchase. As such, a sustainable and targeted down payment assistance program is needed.
  • Housing Production – While housing supply shortages are a major problem across the country, the biggest area of need for housing is for lower -priced or entry-level priced homes that are affordable for first-time homebuyers or those re-entering the homebuying market after a hiatus. Local zoning restrictions, expensive permits, increased cost of lumber, and other price increases have led to a slowdown in production. Economic interventions in distressed communities, land use reforms, and public investment are needed to develop or rehabilitate more affordable homes.
  • Credit and Lending – Black homebuyers have consistently struggled to build the credit necessary or be provided with the right loans to afford the purchase of a home as well as a monthly mortgage payment. Innovative mortgage credit scoring and mortgage products are essential for a successful strategy to get people the credit and lending they need. Not everyone is ready to own a home right away, but credit evaluators need to do a better job so they can refer those denied the necessary credit to housing counselors who can get them ready to buy in a short period of time. Additionally, mortgage products need to target populations that have not only been historically underserved by the mortgage finance system, they have been specifically excluded. Addressing these inequities requires direct interventions like special purpose credit programs (SPCP) and specified pools for mortgage securitization.
  • Civil and Consumer Rights – Today’s homeownership gap was created by a dark legacy of credit access denials and lending discrimination to Black households and communities, which prevented them from building equity, and in turn, wealth. The federal government must ensure it enforces fair housing and consumer protection laws to prevent present-day discrimination from eroding what wealth Black Americans already possess.
  • Homeownership Sustainability – According to the Urban Institute, Black homeowners have shorter spans of homeownership than white homeowners. While a lot of attention has been given to helping renters become homeowners, not as much has been paid to helping homeowners stay homeowners. According to the BHC, early intervention, ex-ante counseling, and COVID-19 related homeownership assistance are essential components of sustaining homeownership.
  • Marketing and Outreach –According to Freddie Mac, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic there were at least three million Black households identified as mortgage-ready and more than two million were able to meet income requirements but didn’t have the requisite credit history for home loan requirements. As a result, it’s going to require strong marketing and outreach to let these households know they can become homeowners and start accruing equity and household wealth. According to the BHC, many factors contribute to the need for a sustained and targeted marketing push: the impact of mass foreclosures and predatory equity-stripping schemes in communities of color during the Great Recession; the multigenerational impact of racism on attitudes about the meaning of “the American Dream;” a lack of informed parental support and guidance available to first-generation homebuyers; and significantly higher levels of student debt despite high incomes.
The BHC believes that if their seven-step plan is followed, that the ambitious goal of three million new net Black homeowners by the end of the decade is both a realistic and exciting possibility. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
National eviction moratorium extended again; upheld by Supreme Court

It’s safe to say when housing providers first decided to invest in rental properties, they never expected to have such disdain for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, through the CDC, the…

National eviction moratorium extended again; upheld by Supreme Court

It’s safe to say when housing providers first decided to invest in rental properties, they never expected to have such disdain for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, through the CDC, the Biden Administration extended the national eviction moratorium for a fourth time – this time through July 31, 2021 – although the CDC indicated this would be the final extension to the moratorium. This is to the relief of many renters and the disdain of many housing providers who are continuing to pay the mortgage on properties that renters are not paying the rent for as a result of the financial burden brought on by the pandemic. Hundreds of rental assistance and relief programs have been created in the past 15 months. But because of a lot of red tape surrounding the application process for that rental assistance, a large portion of the rent aid has not gone to the people who need it most. So, the race against the clock is on to get the funds to the people who are truly struggling with paying the rent as a result of the pandemic, but these programs weren’t built to move with such alacrity. Money is also available for the housing providers, but their acceptance of the relief comes with caveats. According to the New York Times, the funding pays for as much as a year of unpaid rent and three months of future rent payments for eligible tenants. Meanwhile, housing providers can also apply for the relief, and although the program doesn't mandate that they accept the money, those who do take the funds must agree to not evict the qualifying tenant for at least 12 months, with very few exceptions. While housing providers can start the application process, tenants have to sign an online application, and an application cannot be saved and edited later, which has led to a lot of frustration for renter applicants. Meanwhile, tenant rights groups had been lobbying for the moratorium to continue because without rental assistance funds being distributed, they feared a wave of evictions would soon follow. According to the Times that concern, coupled with lagging vaccination rates in certain parts of the country, is what finally convinced the White House to approve the extension. However, that wave may still be coming next month. On the other side of the conversation were those fighting for the rights of the property owners, who have been left on the hook for monthly mortgage payments that were being covered by rent pre-pandemic, but they are now left making those payments without the income necessary to pay it. However, these housing providers suffered a second blow when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to uphold the CDC moratorium. Justice Brett Kavanaugh seemed to cast the deciding vote. According to SCOTUS Blog, although Kavanagh agreed with the plaintiffs that the CDC exceeded its legal authority in issuing the national moratorium, he felt that since it is set to expire in a month and there will be no further extensions, it’s more pragmatic to just let the moratorium run its course at this stage. As such, he sided with Chief Justice John Roberts and justices, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer. However, like the CDC moratorium, many state and city eviction bans across the country are set to expire during the summer months, which will soon leave many renters in a precarious position. Many renters have accrued insurmountable debt in the past year and won’t be able to make up the difference. This could leave them without a roof over their heads. As for the housing providers, without the rent money being paid to them, some  will pull their properties off the market until they can get themselves caught up on their mortgage payments, further jeopardizing the availability of affordable housing for all Americans. According to the Times, the Biden administration is ramping up its efforts to stem the tide that is coming with likely eviction filings in August. There will be an affordable housing and evictions summit this month at the White House. Guidance will come from the Treasury Department on how to more efficiently and effectively distribute emergency aid to both renters and housing providers that were part of the pandemic relief bill. The Department will also implement better and more regular communication with state and local officials, as well as legal aid organizations, to try and limit evictions once the moratoriums end.

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Fannie Mae: Homebuyers weary of housing market

When Russ Joy and his wife Nancy bought their starter home in 2016 in the town of Royersford, PA, the notion was that they would start a family, and in a few years, upgrade to…

Fannie Mae: Homebuyers weary of housing market

When Russ Joy and his wife Nancy bought their starter home in 2016 in the town of Royersford, PA, the notion was that they would start a family, and in a few years, upgrade to a bigger home. Now, with three young children, the time has come, but the plan that the Millennial couple had put together to make this happen has been unable to come to fruition. That’s because the Joys - both of whom were public school teachers until Russ took a job in the writing/marketing field at the completion of the 2020-21 school year - have been unable to compete with the craziness of the housing market, even if they are to make about $50,000 on the sale of the home they are in right now. “It’s bad enough that prices have already become inflated beyond what we expected,” Joy said. “It’s demoralizing to see so many properties going for tens of thousands of dollars over the asking price with cash offers. “As a young family, trying to expand, there is no way to be competitive with all-cash offers.” It’s not just the cash offers. Or bids coming in way above list. Or even some buyers being willing to buy the property sight unseen. The Joys thought they had found their home in nearby Gilbertsville, but they were unable to even get to the table because the sellers and the selling agent pushed the envelope of ethics to deny them their bid – which was the lone bid on the home at the time. Having the upper hand, the seller and their agent not only wanted a filing of the financial disclosures of the monetary assets of the Joys, but also the family who are in agreement to buy the Joys current home. The Joys agent checked in with the ethics board to see if this was fair, and the Board deemed it was. But it’s not like they were outbid for the home, rather they were kept from making the purchase because they are a young family of five and the family buying the Joys current home is an FHA loan applicant. “It’s like they are using our age and the fact that our buyers are potentially being backed by a Federal loan against us,” Joy said. “It’d be fine if a month or two from now we found out we were just outbid, but if they aren’t selling to us based on who we are, or who the people are that are buying our house seems really discriminatory to me.” The Joys are not alone with their frustrations. According to the latest Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI), only 35% of consumers believe now is a good time to buy a home, down from 47% in April. And those who believe it is a bad time to be a homebuyer increased to 56% from 48%. “Consumers appear to be acutely aware of higher home prices and the low supply of homes, the two reasons cited most frequently for that particular sentiment,” Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae told Housing Wire. “However, despite the challenging buying conditions, consumers do appear more intent to purchase on their next move, a preference that may be supported by the expectation of continued low mortgage rates, as well as the elevated savings rate during the pandemic, which may have allowed many to afford a down payment.” The lack of available homes, combined with the higher prices and cash offers or over-market bids, are discouraging homebuyers in the short-term. There are other factors, such as job creation or job stability, and a rebounding economy actually saw a bump in the HSPI index by one point (80) in May. Still, because the housing market still favors the sellers, more than two-thirds of potential sellers surveyed by Fannie Mae in June said now is a prime time to list a home, which is no different than it was in May. Likewise, the percentage of respondents who think home prices will continue to rise over the next 12 months decreased slightly, but insignificantly from 49% to 47%. That two percent difference shifted to those who feel prices will stay the same (up from 27% to 29%). A total of 17% of respondents feel prices will come down, and that number remained unchanged from May. No matter how you slice it, it seems like the feelings of homebuyers aren’t going to be much different than what the Joys are experiencing for the remainder of the year, if not longer. “It’s been emotionally draining,” Joy said. “And the joy of looking for a house has been taken from us.” [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Infrastructure: Crossing the Bridge to Better

How do we build the bridge to a more sustainable, equitable future for all property owners? Smart investments in infrastructure today. Click on a subject area below to learn more about infrastructure and what’s needed…

Infrastructure: Crossing the Bridge to Better

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Infrastructure Feature Image

How do we build the bridge to a more sustainable, equitable future for all property owners? Smart investments in infrastructure today. Click on a subject area below to learn more about infrastructure and what’s needed to cross the bridge to better communities.

Broadband

Currently, 19 million Americans do not have access to broadband at threshold speeds.1

When communities gain access to high-speed internet, businesses grow, jobs are created, and according to a recent study, property values are 6% higher.2 Return to top.

Waste and Water

Only 37% of the nation’s total water infrastructure capital needs were met with previous funding.3

There is a critical need to maintain and expand systems that deliver clean drinking water to property owners. We must invest in waste and water system improvements now to conserve water and keep communities safe and healthy. Return to top.

Roads and Bridges

More than 40% of our country’s road systems are in poor or mediocre condition, costing drivers over $1,000 every year in wasted time and fuel. 4

Roads play a critical role in the transfer of goods and services that fuel local economies. We must invest in roads and bridges now to support local economies, improve traffic congestion and road safety, and lower transportation costs for property owners. Return to top.

Mass Transit

45% of Americans do not have access to public transportation.5

It is time to invest in expanding access to mass transit so that people can more easily access healthcare, jobs, schools and more. Mass transit also raises property values and improves the quality of neighborhoods. Return to top.

Sign The American Property Owners Alliance petition to Congress urging them to them to support smart infrastructure investment.

Click Here
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Most federal rental assistance money not being delivered to those in need

The U.S. Government has allocated $45 billion for rent relief since December 2020, but that money has barely made an impact, and with the eviction moratorium about to run out, it’s likely this assistance money…

Most federal rental assistance money not being delivered to those in need

The U.S. Government has allocated $45 billion for rent relief since December 2020, but that money has barely made an impact, and with the eviction moratorium about to run out, it’s likely this assistance money will never be used for its intended purpose. States, cities, and smaller municipalities have created more than 340 new programs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to help distribute federal rental assistance dollars. However, according to Vox Media, the state programs, which have received the lion’s share of the funding, have only distributed a small percentage of the money they have received. The problem has been that while the notion of providing billions of dollars in much needed rental assistance, the devil was in the details to make sure the right people who actually needed the aid got it. That created a whole mess of red tape, forcing renters to provide proof of need and identity, something that the people in the most dire of circumstances are unable to produce. Additional problems are that while these programs were created and existed, not enough grassroots work was done to let the people know who needed the assistance that they were available to help. As such, only a small percentage of those in need of rent relief even knew relief was available to them. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, a large majority of American renters made at least a partial rent payment in May. However, because most people consider their rent the most important bill they have to pay, they often eschew other required payments, or put themselves into a worse-off financial situation. Just because the rent has been paid, doesn’t mean money wasn’t borrowed, or credit card debt didn’t pile up, or valuable possessions weren’t sold - just to scrape by for another month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of June, barring another extension. With there being court cases across the country saying the CDC exceeded its authority by imposing the moratorium in the first place, another extension seems less likely. This will force state and local governments to decide whether to keep their own moratoriums in place or have an onslaught of evictions begin as soon as July. This appears to be a lose-lose situation for local governments. If they keep the moratoriums in place without the rental assistance money getting to the people who need it, more mom-and-pop property providers will fall behind on their mortgage payments without the rent coming in to supplement it. As such, many of these property owners will pull their property from being available to rent, trimming further an already slim inventory of affordable housing. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 41% of all rental units in America are owned by small business housing providers operating on very slim profit margins. These rentals tend to be less expensive than single family units or larger, corporate-owned, multi-family complexes. If they choose not to keep the moratoriums in place, evictions will skyrocket, backlog, and create mayhem, all the while many low-income individuals and/or families will have to find somewhere to sleep or risk homelessness. Either way, it’s not an ideal situation. Finding ways to streamline these rental assistance dollars - and quickly - is the best path to stemming the rent crisis and ensuring that everyone can have a roof over their head. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Biden’s Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit aims at revitalizing low-income communities

It’s not a surprise to learn there’s a housing shortage in America. There are countless stories out there talking about ways to combat that shortage. The most common solution people support is building more homes.…

Biden’s Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit aims at revitalizing low-income communities

It’s not a surprise to learn there’s a housing shortage in America. There are countless stories out there talking about ways to combat that shortage.

The most common solution people support is building more homes. And while that is definitely a worthy strategy, it would take years to overcome the current shortages if that were the only plan of attack.

Another one that has cropped up, as part of the Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan, is the notion of rehabilitating existing homes that may be out of date and get them up to code so they can once again be livable.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, there were 1.7 million older housing units that were demolished or taken out of stock in an eight-year span between 2009 and 2016. According to Freddie Mac, if those homes were renovated rather than demolished, the housing supply would have at least doubled, if not grown even larger, by 2017.

The Biden Administration wants to harness that notion and use it to help stop the housing shortage and make more homes available, especially for lower-to-middle income earners.

On June 1, Biden announced his plan for the Neighborhood Homes Tax Credit, an initiative that would incentivize rehabilitation, rather than total demolition, of outdated homes.

Investors would be able to claim the credit on their federal tax returns if they sell the home and it is then occupied by an eligible buyer who makes no more than 140% of the area median income.

The credit would make up the difference between the costs of the rehabilitation and development, and the eventual sales price. However, there would be a cap on the final sales price that could not exceed four times the area median family income.

In addition, homes must be located in areas where there is a poverty rate of at least 130% of the area poverty rate, the median family income is below 80% of the area median, and median home values are lower than the area median in order to be eligible for the credit. The White House indicated that would cover approximately 25% of all census tracts.

According to a White House press release:

  • Approximately 40 percent of U.S. housing stock is at least 50 years old, and more than 15 million properties are vacant even as families struggle to find affordable housing. In many neighborhoods, these properties make it difficult to attract or retain local homebuyers, reducing property values and community wealth.
  • Modeled after the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and the New Markets Tax Credit, state housing finance agencies would receive an annual allocation of Neighborhood Homes Tax Credits based on population.
  • Each state’s housing finance agency would then award tax credits to project sponsors—developers, lenders, or local governments—through a competitive application process. Sponsors would use the credits to raise investment capital for their projects, and the investors could claim the credits against their federal income tax when the homes are sold and occupied by eligible homebuyers.
  • As mentioned earlier, these tax credits would cover the difference between total development costs (including acquisition, rehabilitation, demolition, and construction) and the sales price. This would, for example, make it financially viable to spend $120,000 acquiring and rehabilitating a vacant property that would only sell for $100,000 on the open market by offering a $20,000 tax credit to cover the difference.
  • The Tax Credit would bolster homeownership rates for low- and moderate-income homebuyers in underserved communities, while protecting against gentrification.
The U.S. is home to consistent disparities in homeownership and wealth. Across the country, just 49 percent of Hispanic Americans and 45 percent of Black Americans own their own homes, compared to 74 percent of White Americans.

As home prices rise, the proposed Tax Credit would make a generational investment in homeownership affordability, thus enabling low- and moderate-income buyers – including homebuyers of color – to purchase their own homes and build wealth. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
HUD budget to expand greatly if Biden plan approved

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) could be in for a big financial boost, as part of President Biden’s proposed budget plan, that could make a huge impact on homeownership and housing in…

HUD budget to expand greatly if Biden plan approved

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) could be in for a big financial boost, as part of President Biden’s proposed budget plan, that could make a huge impact on homeownership and housing in America.

Biden’s plan would appropriate about $150 billion to HUD that would also create tens of thousands of jobs for working-class families that do not require a college degree.

Recently, HUD secretary Marcia Fudge toured Kansas City with Mayor Quinton Lucas and Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver. While there, she highlighted how Biden’s American Jobs Plan will resuscitate American housing infrastructure and, at the same time, combat the ever-growing affordable housing crisis in the country.

“Our homes can serve as a bridge to greater opportunities and a better life,” Fudge said in a press release. “The American Job Plan is a historic, once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure – including our housing infrastructure. If we want the United States to remain the greatest nation in the world, then we must first take care of home – in the most literal sense. To pass an infrastructure plan that fails to expand affordable housing and to revitalize our communities would be akin to building a road that leads to nowhere.”

The plan also calls for guaranteeing one million housing units to be dedicated for low-income families and addressing other long-suffering housing infrastructure needs, such as health and safety concerns.

The jobs that would be created with this plan would allow for the development, upgrading, and retrofitting homes in the same communities where the jobs would be created.

These new jobs would come with a requirement that employers pay workers competitive wages, have local workforce and hiring agreements, guaranteeing jobs to the people who live in the specific communities, and additionally use workers from labor training and apprenticeship programs.

Another facet of the proposal would require these employers to not interfere with their employees who try to organize a union so they could negotiate and collectively bargain employment contracts. This means the employers can not require their employees to undergo mandatory individual arbitration.

Specifically, the plan calls for a $5.4 billion expansion of housing vouchers to cover 200,000 additional families. Furthermore, homeless assistance grants would increase by $500 million, which would support another 100,000 additional households that includes victims of domestic violence and homeless youth.

Other specifics that are part of the plan include:
  • Building affordable housing not just in big cities, but in small towns across the country.
  • Incentivizing local governments to remove exclusionary zoning and restrictive land use policies.
  • Investing $2 billion in HUD’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program to increase supply and enhance supporting services for affordable housing for low-income older Americans.
  • Removing lead-based paint from approximately 175,000 housing units and, in the process, make multifamily homes more energy-efficient and create communities that are more resilient to harsher climates.
  • Meet the housing needs of tribal communities.
These budget increases, as part of the plan, are likely a starting point for negotiation in Congress and likely will be trimmed down or have changes in some capacity to garner the bi-partisan support that will be needed to be approved.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, praised the increases in funding for affordable housing through HUD, as well as other funding increases.

“At a time when over half of our people are living paycheck to paycheck, and millions of elderly people are experiencing poverty, this budget goes a long way in providing the help that so many Americans desperately need,” Sanders said in a statement, according to Housing Wire.

Congress has to pass a budget before Oct. 1, the beginning of fiscal year 2022.

In his first year in office, Biden and his administration have taken a significant focus on affordable housing.

Separate from his budget proposal for HUD, Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $213 billion to be allocated for housing, specifically for low-income homeowners and first-time homebuyers. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Biden hoping for a home run to aid first-time homebuyers

President Joe Biden wanted a tax credit for first-time homebuyers. He needed Congress to step up to the plate. And while there’s still some work to do before hitting the ball out of the park,…

Biden hoping for a home run to aid first-time homebuyers

President Joe Biden wanted a tax credit for first-time homebuyers. He needed Congress to step up to the plate.

And while there’s still some work to do before hitting the ball out of the park, Congress at least gave him a line-drive base hit in its first at bat.

In April, U.S. Rep., Jimmy Panetta of California and Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon introduced new legislation that is known as the “First-Time Homebuyer Act.” The new bill, being discussed in Congress, would provide a tax credit for first-time homebuyers that would equal 10% of the purchase price of the home, or $15,000.

Eligible buyers are those who have not owned a home or purchased a home in the three previous years.

Another condition of eligibility is that participants must not make more than 160% of the median income for the area and the purchase price of the home must be no more than 110% of the median purchase price of the area.

Borrowers will be able to claim the credit for any home purchased in 2021 or beyond.

The idea was to target those individuals who are low or middle-income earners, and they would have to use the home as a primary residence for at least four years. If not, a portion of the credit would be recovered through taxes.

This bill is not to be confused with different legislation that would provide down payment assistance via a closing grant to first-time, first generation homeowners. This bill - which part of Biden's infrastructure plan - should not be confused with different legislation that would provide down payment assistance via closing grant to first-time, first-generation homeowners, which is not affiliated with Biden’s plan.

That said, there’s a possibility that both see the light of day.

“This legislation is just one element of the big, bold housing agenda that we are promoting to combat the housing affordability crisis and address centuries of overtly racist and discriminatory housing policies that have left massive wealth, homeownership, and opportunity gaps between white communities and communities of color,” Blumenauer said in a statement provided to Housing Wire.

The legislation is designed to build wealth within communities that face systemic exclusions in the housing market.

This isn’t the first time that a first-time homebuyer tax credit is being considered in Congress. In fact, in 2008, Congress passed an overwhelmingly successful law that created a $7,500 tax credit for first-time homebuyers and 1.5 million homebuyers took advantage of the credit.

In 2009, the credit increased to $8,000.

Things went awry when it became obvious that the Internal Revenue Service wasn’t providing the proper oversight, and an IRS watchdog found more than 74,000 questionable claims for the tax credit that the IRS simply missed.

In those instances, there were individuals taking the credit who did not purchase a home. There were also borrowers under the age of 18 and there were those who received the credit who had, in fact, owned a home within the previous three years.

As much as first-time homebuyers would champion this legislation becoming law, with the way Congress moves, it might not be worth the wait.

In other words, if you are a first-time homebuyer, you might want to act now and not sit around and wait to see if Congress can pass this bill.

Properties are being gobbled up fast. Sometimes mere days after being listed. If you are waiting, home prices will continue to rise, the market will become more competitive, and you could be left standing there with the bat on your shoulder as strike three blows past you. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Report: Single-Family home prices up year-over-year

ATTOM Data Solutions’ property tax analysis of around 87 million single-family homes around the country showed that $323 billion in property taxes were levied on single-family homes in 2020, up 5.4 percent from $306.4 billion…

Report: Single-Family home prices up year-over-year

ATTOM Data Solutions’ property tax analysis of around 87 million single-family homes around the country showed that $323 billion in property taxes were levied on single-family homes in 2020, up 5.4 percent from $306.4 billion in 2019.

The average property tax of $3,719 for a single-family home in 2020 rose 4.4 percent from $3,561 in 2019, while the effective property tax rate of 1.1 percent dipped from 1.14 percent in 2019.

“Homeowners across the United States in 2020 got hit with the largest average property tax hike in the last four years, a sign that the cost of running local governments and public school systems rose well past the rate of inflation. The increase was twice what it was in 2019,” ATTOM Data Solutions Chief Product Officer Todd Teta said in a release. “Fortunately for recent homebuyers, they have mortgages with super-low interest rates that somewhat contain the cost of homeownership. But the latest tax numbers speak loud and clear about the continuing pressure on both recent and longtime homeowners to support the rising cost of public services.”



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The results of homeowner tax reform are in: Americans are voting with their feet

Once upon a time, the federal tax benefits of homeownership were equal. The write-off you got in California or New York was the same as the break you received in Montana or New Mexico. With…

The results of homeowner tax reform are in: Americans are voting with their feet

Once upon a time, the federal tax benefits of homeownership were equal. The write-off you got in California or New York was the same as the break you received in Montana or New Mexico.

With the tax reform of 2017, however, that’s no longer the case. Changes in tax policy have caused homeowners to rethink their real estate options, a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The result? For some, it’s goodbye, New York. So long, San Francisco. Hello, Orlando. Howdy, Austin.

“For the past two years, I’ve felt like everyone is leaving Los Angeles, and that has intensified during the pandemic,” says Lindsay Katz, an agent at real estate brokerage Redfin in Los Angeles. “More than half of my sellers are moving to a different area. A lot of young families are moving back to their hometowns to be near their parents, moves they can now make because they’re working remotely.”



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Is the housing bubble going to burst? Don’t hold your breath

If you are expecting the latest housing boom bubble to burst, don’t. That’s because, as National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) chief economist Lawrence Yun said, “This (boom) is not a bubble. It’s simply a lack…

Is the housing bubble going to burst? Don’t hold your breath

If you are expecting the latest housing boom bubble to burst, don’t. That’s because, as National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) chief economist Lawrence Yun said, “This (boom) is not a bubble. It’s simply a lack of supply.” As basic as he makes that sound, it’s the reality. Housing is booming in America because of an historic low in housing stock on the market. As a result, prices are going up, and in some places, buyers are buying homes above the list price just to ensure they win the bid. All that’s doing is pricing out a lot of hard-working Americans from achieving the dream of homeownership. And it’s not a good thing long-term, because if this isn’t a bubble, as Yun said, that means the prices aren’t going to plummet anytime soon, if much at all.
“This (boom) is not a bubble. It’s simply a lack of supply,” says NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.
According to data from NAR, there are just 1.03 million homes available in America. In July 2007, there were four times as many homes on the market. Prices are up 17.2% since March 2020 and the number of active listings in that same time period is down 54%. Some cities are seeing a ridiculous jump in list prices. For example, the median price of a single-family home in Austin, Texas is now $520,000 – a 40% jump from the same time in 2020. While mortgage rates are now back above 3% and likely not going to get any lower, that percentage is still appealing for buyers Combine affordable mortgages with a slowdown in housing development brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic; a flight toward bigger, suburban homes as people are finding they can effectively work from home; and a good stock market, allowing some individuals to have more money for a down payment, and it’s easy to see why prices are skyrocketing. This is hurting the first-time homebuyer greatly, as they don’t have the personal wealth to compete with these individuals on the purchase of a home. Add in the fact that large corporations are buying up available homes and renting them, knowing the market is tough on Millennials and Generation Z, and the number of owner-occupied homes is drying up. Some buyers are even gambling and willing waive the right to inspect a property or other financial contingencies before buying the property. Heck, some homes are selling sight unseen. The one silver lining is rents seem to have stabilized, so people can find a way to get a roof over their heads. Albeit these are not always ideal circumstances as renting makes it harder to save to buy a home and start accumulating wealth. But that’s only a small ray of sunlight. According to Yun, we are flirting with a dangerous situation where if rates remain low, demand picks up with new jobs, there's no increase in supply, and the only thing that moves is home prices, more and more people will get priced out. “That would mean we are creating a divided society of haves and have-nots," he said. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
States with the highest property taxes

In some states, homes are cheap, property tax rates are less than half of 1% and the average property tax payment is just a few hundred bucks per year. In the most expensive states, however,…

States with the highest property taxes

In some states, homes are cheap, property tax rates are less than half of 1% and the average property tax payment is just a few hundred bucks per year. In the most expensive states, however, rates soar over 2%, homes are pricey and average annual property tax bills routinely creep above $5,000 and beyond.

Using data from the Tax Foundation, GOBankingRates ranked the states with the highest property taxes in America, including the percentage rate, the average dollar amount paid and the average home value. The results are listed in ascending order from least expensive to most. For context, the national average effective property tax is 1.06%, the U.S. average home value is $263,351 and the average annual property tax bill is $2,787.



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Congress considers $15,000 first-time homebuyer credit

A refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000 for first time homebuyers, being considered in future tax and economic stimulus legislation, could catapult millions of renter households into first-time homeownership, a new Zillow analysis suggests. While Congress…

Congress considers $15,000 first-time homebuyer credit

A refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000 for first time homebuyers, being considered in future tax and economic stimulus legislation, could catapult millions of renter households into first-time homeownership, a new Zillow analysis suggests.

While Congress has already passed billions in aid over the past year to provide homeowner and renter relief, housing will remain a key area of focus through 2021 — especially as Congress continues to grapple with decreasing affordability.

Zillow research found that with a 3.5% down payment on a 30-year mortgage with a 3% interest rate, about 9.3 million renter households in the U.S. (27.4%) would spend less than a third of their income on the monthly payment for the median home sold in their metro in 2020. An advanceable tax credit would remove for them what two thirds of renters cite as the single biggest barrier to homeownership -- saving for a down payment. Other hurdles include qualifying for a mortgage and job security.

A tax credit could be even more beneficial to renters in relatively more affordable metros, like Pittsburgh (40.5% could afford a median mortgage), Cincinnati (39.7%), Cleveland (39.0%), and St. Louis (38.5%). Costly California metros like Los Angeles (10.1%) and San Jose (12.1%) have some of the smallest share of renters that could afford a mortgage, but the program would still significantly impact thousands in those regions.



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The U.S. is in the midst of a housing crisis. What can be done about it?

The nation is struggling with an affordable-housing crisis. There is not enough housing in communities across the country, including here in Philadelphia. This means families must pay more for their housing, renters have less to…

The U.S. is in the midst of a housing crisis. What can be done about it?

The nation is struggling with an affordable-housing crisis. There is not enough housing in communities across the country, including here in Philadelphia. This means families must pay more for their housing, renters have less to get by on at the end of the month, homeownership is out of reach for too many, and those of modest means are forced to live farther from decent jobs.

Homebuilding collapsed during the housing crash more than a decade ago and has been slow to recover. Construction of high-end homes and apartments recovered first, and there is now an oversupply in some urban areas across the country.

However, the construction of affordable housing — homes reasonably priced for lower-income households to rent or own — has only recently begun to increase and continues to lag demand. The shortfall is so large that it would take an extra year of construction at its current pace to close it.

The lion’s share of the undersupply is concentrated in areas that offer significant economic opportunity, driving up house prices and rents for low- and moderate-income families precisely where they want to live.



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Housing advocates want equity provisions in Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill

Witnesses urged senators to bake provisions to ensure equity into President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure package or they would risk repeating a history of public investments that locked African Americans and minorities out of buying…

Housing advocates want equity provisions in Biden’s proposed infrastructure bill

Witnesses urged senators to bake provisions to ensure equity into President Joe Biden’s proposed infrastructure package or they would risk repeating a history of public investments that locked African Americans and minorities out of buying homes and building wealth.

Federal policies, including provisions of the New Deal and a 1950s law to expand and build highways, worsened segregation and drove divestment from Black and minority communities, witnesses said Tuesday during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on racial discrimination in housing.

Senate Banking Chairman Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, asked witnesses how to fairly implement future infrastructure packages, such as the one Biden introduced last month. Biden’s proposal includes $213 billion to build and rehabilitate affordable housing units.

Past infrastructure investments, including the creation of the Federal Housing Administration and construction of the federal highway system, created jobs and drove economic growth, but only for some communities, Brown said.



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How an infrastructure bill can help rural communities in the West

Kane Creek Road, a curving asphalt road nestled between the Colorado River and red rock cliffs, might not see much use were it not situated in Moab, Utah — a small town so inundated with…

How an infrastructure bill can help rural communities in the West

Kane Creek Road, a curving asphalt road nestled between the Colorado River and red rock cliffs, might not see much use were it not situated in Moab, Utah — a small town so inundated with visitors these days that City Manager Joel Linares says he’s never bored.

“We’re just getting overrun. We just cannot keep up,” Linares said.

The road, which leads to a popular off-roading route, is falling apart, according to Linares. The byway has turned into a kind of quilt with lines of asphalt zigzagging every way. “I don’t know that there’s a 6 foot by 6 foot square of asphalt left in the whole road. I mean, it’s just a big piece of patchwork.” he said.

Quick fixes just aren’t working anymore.

Deteriorating Kane Creek and other roads in this area of southeastern Utah are an example of how a small town of roughly 5,000 full-time residents must contend with big city infrastructure problems brought on by an average of 3 million visitors a year.

“All of our projects and everything is so geared towards meeting the market demand that’s being driven by overnight accommodations,” Linares said. “We never have time or money to go in and take care of our failing infrastructure that’s decades and decades and decades old.”



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Fair Housing Month Feature: Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center

The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is…

Fair Housing Month Feature: Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center

Fair Housing Month Spotlight: Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is to support organizations and advocates who are dedicated to protecting fair housing rights and expanding opportunity. Meet Cashauna Hill, Executive Director of the Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center. Cashauna and her team work to end discriminatory housing policies and practices through litigation and policy advocacy, along with fair housing trainings and foreclosure prevention counseling. Prior to her role at LAFHAC, Cashauna successfully resolved fair housing and lending claims through administrative and court processes. She has been interviewed by CNN, NPR, and countless other national and local media outlets – and has even testified before the United States Congress as a fair housing expert.
Why is equitable access to housing so important
Cashauna: Where we live influences nearly every aspect of our lives.  Our zip code determines everything from whether we have access to fresh food and produce to how long we’ll have to wait for public transit, to even how long we’ll live. Equitable access to housing is important because where we live determines how or whether we’ll have access to opportunity.
What are common obstacles and discrimination that people face when trying to rent or buy a home? You are welcome to provide specific examples.
Cashauna: It’s important to note that whether or not a home is even available to rent or purchase can be rooted in discriminatory housing policy.  Zoning and land-use restrictions have, for generations, worked to limit the kinds of housing opportunities that may be available in certain communities. When homeseekers look for housing in a certain community, we know that they may encounter discriminatory actions from landlords, sales agents, and other real estate professionals.
How does your organization help individuals and families overcome the barriers to housing access to increase equity in housing?
Cashauna: LaFHAC provides free legal representation to people who have experienced discrimination, and works in concert with developers and other interested parties to challenge discriminatory policies and practices in the housing market through litigation. Additionally, LaFHAC provides free foreclosure prevention services to ensure that our neighbors can continue to build and retain generational wealth through homeownership, and provides fair housing training sessions and other educational opportunities to community members.  LaFHAC also works at the state, local, and federal level to support passage of policies that advance equitable access to housing opportunity.
What does the future of fair housing look like?
Cashauna: The future of fair housing should look like families being able to choose the housing that works best for them, free of interference from discriminatory policies and practices. It sounds simple, but there has not yet been a time in this nation when this vision is reality.
About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
Sign The American Property Owners Alliance petition to Congress urging them to support property owners and remove barriers to more affordable housing. Click here
  [social_warfare]
Fair Housing Month Feature: Fair Housing Justice Center

The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to strong fair housing protections that help make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership…

Fair Housing Month Feature: Fair Housing Justice Center

Fair Housing Month Feature: Fair Housing Justice Center The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to strong fair housing protections that help make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is to support organizations and advocates who are dedicated to protecting fair housing rights and expanding opportunity. Meet Fred Freiberg, the Executive Director of the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination, promoting policies that foster inclusive communities, and strengthening enforcement of fair housing laws. The FHJC serves all five boroughs of New York City and seven surrounding New York counties. FHJC Executive Director, Fred Freiberg, explains the overt and subtle housing discrimination that many people face, how FHJC is tackling discrimination head-on, and the role that stakeholders play in eliminating housing discrimination and creating inclusive communities.
Why is equitable access to housing so important?
Fred: Where one lives matters. Whether one has access to employment and educational opportunities, healthy food options, decent healthcare, as well as parks, recreational, and commercial amenities – nearly every aspect of our lives is affected by our zip code. Even one’s life expectancy is impacted by the neighborhood in which one resides. Too often, housing opportunities in well-resourced areas are not equally available to all people because of persistent and pervasive discrimination in the housing market based on race, ethnicity, disability, and other protected characteristics. More than 53 years after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, the housing choices of too many people are severely limited to areas with fewer resources and little or no ability to build the generational wealth that was the key to the growth of the white middle class. A recent Brookings Institution study revealed that the net worth of a typical white family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family, and much of that disparity is linked to residential segregation and racial discrimination[1]. And sadly, much of the historical discrimination that occurred was at the hands of the organized real estate industry, which – from its very founding – worked hand in hand with government to create and reinforce racial segregation.
What are common obstacles and discrimination that people face when trying to rent or buy a home?
Fred: While the blatant in-your-face discrimination of the past – the “slammed door” – still occurs, it has been replaced today with more polite and courteous behavior often accompanied by a smile, a handshake, and any number of deceptive statements such as “the apartment was just rented,”  “unfortunately there’s a waiting list right now,“ or “I think you would have better luck finding a home in your price range in another area” to name just a few. Consumers should think of it as more of a “revolving door” where people are politely and courteously escorted into, out of, and away from the desired housing. Racial steering and other discriminatory conduct was outlawed by the Fair Housing Act over five decades ago, but as we saw in the 2019 Newsday story – and as we have seen in too many of our own testing investigations since 2005, illegal housing discrimination continues unabated in our metropolitan regions.
“The bottom line is that most victims of racial discrimination in the rental, sale, and financing of housing have no idea that discrimination has occurred because they have no way to compare their treatment against that of a person of a different race or national origin.”
As a result, much of the housing discrimination that occurs today goes unreported, no enforcement action is taken, and the cycle of discrimination and segregation continues. The FHJC recently detailed this reality in a new policy paper, “Ending Racism in Residential Real Estate.”
How does your organization help individuals and families overcome the barriers to housing access to increase equity in housing?
Fred: The FHJC conducts investigations through our testing program to document unlawful housing discrimination. We assist people who file housing discrimination complaints by conducting covert testing investigations and gathering information that may help them meet their burden of proof in an administrative hearing or court of law. But we do not only test in response to complaints. We also conduct proactive systemic testing investigations to identify patterns of housing discrimination that exist in the community. We have successfully challenged illegal housing discrimination in rentals, real estate sales, mortgage lending, assisted living and nursing homes, government housing programs, and other parts of the housing market. Our investigations have led to legal challenges that have opened more than 70,000 housing units to previously excluded populations, recovered more than $50 million in damages and penalties, and changed the way many housing providers and government agencies do business[2].  We also do advocacy work on fair housing policy issues, and we engage in education and outreach to increase public awareness of fair housing rights. The FHJC is the only full-service fair housing organization based in New York City.
What does the future of fair housing look like?
Fred: An honest assessment of our history shows that our segregated housing patterns were the result of a massive, coordinated, intentional, and costly effort by the real estate industry and government over many decades. Undoing the damage will require an equal effort. Five decades after the sponsors of the Fair Housing Act assured Americans that the law was aimed at stopping illegal housing discrimination and replacing our segregated metropolitan regions with “truly integrated and balanced living patterns,” most of the country remains racially segregated and systemic housing discrimination still infects most housing markets. There are some reasons for hope.  The new administration is taking steps to restore regulations and rules that had been dismantled in the last administration.  One would enable enforcement agencies to more easily utilize a legal theory called “disparate impact” to combat subtle forms of discrimination.  Another would empower local and state governments and other recipients of federal funds to more fully implement their duty under the Fair Housing Act to “affirmatively further fair housing.” The Newsday investigation prompted state legislators in New York to propose legislation that would provide ongoing annual funding for systemic testing throughout the State.
“The FHJC has been urging local, state, and federal governments to move away from a purely complaint-responsive enforcement paradigm to one that is more proactive and uses testing to document systemic housing discrimination. The burden of ending housing discrimination should not solely fall on victims of housing discrimination.”
We’re also encouraged that some of the leadership within the real estate industry are coming to terms with their history, working to change the culture of the real estate industry, and encouraging members to take anti-racist positions in their daily real estate practices. Toward that end, FHJC has launched a new social media campaign, “Together We Can End Housing Discrimination,” aimed at enlisting allies in the fight. Unlike most outreach campaigns designed to reach direct victims, the new campaign is directed at people – including those in the real estate industry - who have credible information about discriminatory policies and practices. The agent who knows that a colleague is steering, the broker whose company refuses to do business in certain areas – anyone who’s unsure of what to do about the discrimination they have learned is occurring. Contact the FHJC (anonymously if you prefer) by visiting https://www.fairhousingjustice.org/together-we-can-end-housing-discrimination , and we’ll take it from there. Learn more about Fair Housing Justice Center.
About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
Sign The American Property Owners Alliance petition to Congress urging them to support property owners and remove barriers to more affordable housing. Click here
  [social_warfare] [1] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2020/02/27/examining-the-black-white-wealth-gap/ [2] Data provided by Fair Housing Justice Center
CDC eviction moratorium vacated by federal judge, appealed by DOJ

Evictions have been banned for the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That changed in a hurry. And just as quickly changed again. On May 5, Federal Judge Dabney L. Friedrich vacated the eviction…

CDC eviction moratorium vacated by federal judge, appealed by DOJ

Evictions have been banned for the past year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That changed in a hurry. And just as quickly changed again. On May 5, Federal Judge Dabney L. Friedrich vacated the eviction ban established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This comes on the heels of a lengthy legal battle between the Alabama Association of REALTORS® and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, the Justice Department is appealing the decision on behalf of the CDC and Friedrich’s ruling has been stayed pending the high-stakes appeal. The ban was originally slated to expire June 30, but the CDC has extended the ban several times over the past year, meaning the June 30 date could have potentially moved even further into the future. The Alabama Association of REALTORS® were joined by the Georgia Association of REALTORS®, and other plaintiffs, in filing a lawsuit after the CDC extended the moratorium in November 2020. That lawsuit came when the CDC expanded the reach of its ban to include properties outside of those that were receiving federal assistance. The REALTORS® argued that more and more renters have been abusing these protections and have simply stopped paying rent. The main argument though, and likely the most important thing that led to Judge Friedrich’s decision, was that the federal government went too far by extending the moratorium to include properties that were outside the purview of the federal government. “It is the role of the political branches, and not the courts, to assess the merits of policy measures designed to combat the spread of disease, even during a global pandemic,” Friedrich wrote in the memorandum opinion, according to Inman.  “The question for the Court is a narrow one: Does the Public Health Service Act grant the CDC the legal authority to impose a nationwide eviction moratorium? It does not. “Because the plain language of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. § 264(a), unambiguously forecloses the nationwide eviction moratorium, the Court must set aside the CDC Order, consistent with the Administrative Procedure Act and D.C. Circuit precedent. For the foregoing reasons, the plaintiffs’ motion for expedited summary judgment is granted and the Department’s motion for summary judgment and partial motion to dismiss are denied.” The CDC extended the moratorium last summer, at Thanksgiving, and then again two days before it was set to expire in March. “The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a historic threat to the nation’s public health,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement to CNBC. “Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings — like homeless shelters — by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.” According to a March report issued by the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, 15% of adult renters in America, or roughly 1.6 million Americans, were behind in their rent. Moody’s Analytical Report indicated that approximately $57 billion in back rent was owed in the month of January. Congress tried to eliminate as much of that as possible with $25 billion in rental assistance in the December stimulus package and an additional $27 billion in Biden’s American Rescue Plan that passed in March. On the local level, existing rental assistance programs are being bolstered and new programs are being launched. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, more than 200 of these programs are open and accepting applications. CNN reported that tenants must meet an income requirement, show they've lost income during the pandemic and demonstrate a risk of homelessness in order to qualify for the money. And while there is a stay in place and evictions aren’t going to start happening next week, whether the appeal overturns Friedrich’s decision or not will be determined by what judges are chosen for the panel. "The underlying ruling in this case is pretty weak, in my opinion," Shamus Roller, executive director of the National Housing Law Project told NPR. "Congress in December extended the CDC order. So clearly Congress thinks that the CDC has this authority. "It'll be a three judge panel that will review this. It will depend greatly on which three judges get selected." The Trump administration put in place several conservative federal judges who, if chosen, might view this moratorium as an example of governmental overreach. This explains why Roller said the judges chosen for this panel will be so important. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Is Biden’s grant program for affordable housing more carrot or more stick?

President Joe Biden wants to use an historic amount of federal dollars to create more affordable housing in America. But to do so, he is going to have to find his way through a wall…

Is Biden’s grant program for affordable housing more carrot or more stick?

President Joe Biden wants to use an historic amount of federal dollars to create more affordable housing in America. But to do so, he is going to have to find his way through a wall of seemingly impenetrable red tape so that federal money can influence local governance. It’s not going to be easy, and some are doubting that he can make it happen. But Biden is going to give it a try by putting the wooden rabbit out in front of the Greyhound American Mayors and see if they’ll chase it. Much of the cost of building new housing is determined at the local level. Almost 20% of the cost of building a single-family home comes from state and local regulations such as permitting and development fees, zoning rules and land-use restrictions. With all of these costs, building affordable housing is next to impossible. However, Biden wants to try to tackle the problem with a new competitive grant program. This would entice state and local governments to scale back costly zoning and land-use policies. That’s a start, but is it enough? “To say, ‘We’re not going to give you money for affordable housing if you don’t make it easier to build affordable housing, [which is hard] because you don’t want affordable housing,’ — it’s ridiculous,” David Dworkin, president and CEO of the National Housing Conference, an affordable housing advocacy group told Politico. “You need carrot and stick, not carrot or stick, to make it work.” Dworkin added that if there was a serious effort to make a push to cut through some of the exclusionary zoning red tape, that it would tie federal transportation dollars to the elimination of these barriers, and that’s a much larger pot of gold at the end of the rainbow than is usually shared with states. The reason the Biden Administration has dodged the notion of putting more pressure on local officials to change these regulations is because it puts the President in a boxing ring without any gloves against some haymaker throwing Mayors who have basically drawn a line in the sand about tying local regulations to federal dollars. “All these places are reluctant to touch zoning, or it would have been done already,” Jim Parrott, a former housing adviser to the Obama White House, also told Politico. “(It) depends totally on how big the carrot is and whether they deploy sticks.” Carrot and stick analogies aside, it’s not just housing folks who are wondering if Biden’s plan will ever come to fruition as outlined, or if it will require some more federal muscle. Some Democrats have argued that there isn’t enough federal money to back this idea, meanwhile Republicans are arguing that infrastructure plan as a whole contains too much federal spending. With there being pushback on both sides of the spectrum, as well as concern being expressed by housing advocates, it could make it hard for Biden to get this proposal across the goal line and make homes more affordable for many Americans. Biden’s pitch calls for two million affordable housing units to be developed, preserved, or rehabilitated using a whopping $213 billion. Homebuilders also have their doubts about Bien’s plan. After all, two million homes is a huge number. To make that happen, Congress is going to need to get creative – maybe take Biden’s plan and use it to spark something more appealing and realistic. Biden wants to commit $40 billion to create more public housing. Progressive Democrats feel that’s not enough and want to see that number nearly double. Meanwhile Republicans feel building more public housing is taking a step backwards because of its dependency on the government. Many experts believe that Biden’s infrastructure plan will pass through both the House and Senate, but not as currently proposed. The question is, when it’s done, will there be a boon or a bust for affordable housing in America? Only time will tell. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Fair Housing Month Feature: Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana

The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is…

Fair Housing Month Feature: Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana

Fair Housing Month Feature: Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is to support organizations and advocates who are dedicated to protecting fair housing rights and expanding opportunity. Meet Amy Nelson, the Executive Director of Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI), a nonprofit fair housing organization that works to create equal housing opportunities in Central Indiana by eliminating housing discrimination through advocacy, enforcement, education and outreach. The FHCCI was established through a U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development grant awarded to the National Fair Housing Alliance to establish a fair housing agency in central Indiana. FHCCI Executive Director, Amy Nelson explains the impact of where you live on your life, why equitable access to housing is critical, and the role we all play in fighting housing discrimination and creating equal housing opportunities.
Why is equitable access to housing so important?
Amy: We can so often track where we live as the basis for so much in our lives. We see this in formerly redlined neighborhoods having higher rates of asthma and diabetes. How here in my city we have a staggering 17-year life expectancy rate difference simply due to where one lives[1].
“It’s families suffering in substandard housing due to affordability barriers. It’s the growing number of studies showing us that with one’s zip code, researchers can predict if your child will finish high school, what their income will be, or whether they will be incarcerated. It’s children moving from school to school due to their family just being served an eviction, even if no fault of their own, and facing screening barriers. All based on where we live. Housing is critical.”
What are common obstacles and discrimination that people face when trying to rent or buy a home?
Amy: FHCCI specifically investigates allegations of housing discrimination received from the public as well as conducting systemic investigations. Unfortunately, housing discrimination happens far too often. Whether it is a recent client being sexually harassed by their landlord, or a lender refusing to make loans to a black family, or a mom with three kids being told she has too many kids for a two bedroom, or a recent client who had to “White wash” her home to get a fair appraisal for a refinance, housing discrimination is far too commonplace.
How does your organization help individuals and families overcome the barriers to housing access to increase equity in housing?
Amy: We have four main programs working toward our mission: Advocacy, Education, Inclusive Communities, and Public Policy. Through our Advocacy Program, we file enforcement actions to address violations of fair housing law. Our Education Program actively works to share information so everyone understands their rights and responsibilities under fair housing laws. Our Inclusive Communities Program gives back to the community and to those harmed by discriminatory practices. And finally, in our Public Policy Program, we work to advance strong housing laws with particular attention to fighting for those most at risk of housing loss and harm. Just this month, we released a new video through our Education Program, History of Real Estate Sales Discrimination in Indianapolis that we premiered at our annual Fair Housing Conference last week. This is a companion to last year’s History of Redlining video.
What does the future of fair housing look like?
  Amy: Truly achieving fair housing requires the full attention and support of the federal government, the courts, and all of us. Fair housing laws have never had funding or the strength of will to truly address our nation’s history of discriminatory practices that still impact our neighborhoods and our country today. I remain hopeful we can achieve the vision of fair housing laws that allows each person to have equal housing opportunity. We need to demand such of our leaders and keep a focus on housing. Learn more about Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana.
About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
Sign The American Property Owners Alliance petition to Congress urging them to support property owners and remove barriers to more affordable housing. Click here
  [social_warfare]
Biden restores fair housing rules Trump gutted

Although the month of April is annually observed as Fair Housing Month, the reality for Black America and other people of color is that housing has not significantly changed since the 1968 federal enactment of…

Biden restores fair housing rules Trump gutted

Although the month of April is annually observed as Fair Housing Month, the reality for Black America and other people of color is that housing has not significantly changed since the 1968 federal enactment of the Fair Housing Act. Its enactment came seven days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who had strongly advocated fair and open housing.

But 53 years after an historic enactment, race and place remain the determining factors of who is allowed the opportunity to build wealth, as well as to share wealth’s financial advantages across family generations.

What makes this year’s observance more hopeful are renewed efforts by both President Biden and Congress to correct decades’ long denials of full access to the American Dream.

For the first time in more than four years, the nation’s President committed his Administration to the active pursuit of fair housing. Beginning with a memorandum coinciding with his inauguration on January 26th, President Biden directed the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to “as soon as practicable, take all steps necessary to examine the effects of” the Trump Administration’s 2020 repeal of two key housing rules issued by the Obama Administration: the 2013 Disparate Impact Standard and the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.



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Two Keys To A 2021 Refresh: Bringing Fair Housing Into The 21st Century

This April marks the 53rd anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act), which “prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion,…

Two Keys To A 2021 Refresh: Bringing Fair Housing Into The 21st Century

This April marks the 53rd anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act), which “prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, [and] sex.” Brave individuals fought for something we often take for granted, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose assassination was a catalyst for the final passage of the act, and Senator Walter Mondale, the future Democratic Party’s presidential nominee who championed fair housing for years.

But perhaps a name you haven’t heard of is Senator Edward Brooke. Ed Brooke, the first African American popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, co-authored the amendment that would prohibit housing discrimination. Senator Brooke worked across the political divide with leaders like Senator Mondale to enact the Fair Housing Act as law.

I’ve recently wondered how these heroes of American history would view the state of “fair housing” today. Studies show that while overt discrimination has dropped over the decades, less obvious forms of discrimination persist. People of color, for instance, are shown significantly fewer, and less appealing, rental properties in blind studies. According to the Urban Institute, Black and Hispanic renters are shown 11.4% and 12.5% fewer rental units, respectively, than white renters. Housing has ramifications in other related aspects of life such as health, education and job security. For example, communities of color often grapple with poverty and subpar schools.

I believe that there are two ideas that a new generation of real estate leaders can pioneer to help build on the fair housing platform that Senator Brooke and others began.



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Supporting Fair Housing, Inclusivity in Your Community

Home and property ownership is a nearly universal part of the American dream. An unfortunate reality of our nation’s past and present, however, is that this dream has been much more difficult to achieve among…

Supporting Fair Housing, Inclusivity in Your Community

Home and property ownership is a nearly universal part of the American dream. An unfortunate reality of our nation’s past and present, however, is that this dream has been much more difficult to achieve among minority groups.

April marks the 53rd anniversary of the passage of the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act, the federal law that protects Americans against housing and property ownership discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. But despite all the progress this nation has made over recent decades, people searching for a home today face many of the same challenges they did 53 years ago. Home and property ownership rates for Black Americans are nearly 30 percentage points lower than that of white Americans, and after decades of gain, the Black homeownership rate has now fallen back to where it was a half-century ago.

“During this time, we honor the sacrifices and tenacity shown by so many during the fight to expand equal access to housing and property in America,” said National Association of Realtors® President Charlie Oppler. “As the largest trade association in the world, NAR has a powerful voice, and we will continue to use that voice to champion efforts to build more inclusive communities throughout our nation.”



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Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $213 billion for affordable housing

President Biden recently unveiled his infrastructure proposal, asking Congress to approve $2 trillion in spending. And while much of that proposal involves basic repairs to roads and bridges, as well as upgrades to the electrical…

Biden’s infrastructure plan includes $213 billion for affordable housing

President Biden recently unveiled his infrastructure proposal, asking Congress to approve $2 trillion in spending. And while much of that proposal involves basic repairs to roads and bridges, as well as upgrades to the electrical grid and expanding access to broadband internet, the plan calls for a whopping $213 billion to create more affordable housing. Adding to the housing stock is a priority of the Biden administration, and the plan would build or rehabilitate more than 500,000 dwellings for low- and middle-income homebuyers, as well as retrofit more than two million commercial buildings and affordable housing units, to create more affordability in the marketplace. Specifically, Biden is asking Congress to approve the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act - legislation that would provide an additional $20 billion in tax credits for affordable housing through 2026. There are other incentives tied to affordable housing, such as creating a grant program for local jurisdictions that eliminate red tape that slows or prevents new housing development, like exclusionary zoning laws. The big debate that will certainly take place in Congress is where this vast amount of funding will come from. President Biden’s plan is to raise taxes on large and multinational corporations to offset the cost of his infrastructure goals.  His Made in America Tax Plan would raise the corporate tax rate to 28% from the 21% rate that was put in place as part of former President Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The top corporate tax rate was 35% prior to 2017.  The plan also provides an increase in taxes for the earnings American companies make outside of the U.S. The Department of Transportation is certainly linked to this latest proposal as well, as prior to the unveiling of the plan it announced it was seeking applicants for the 2021 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant program, which provides $889 million to fund national and regional transportation projects. This is important to the affordable housing piece of the plan as the department will consider whether a development project is in a federally designated community development zone or opportunity zone. If so, improvements in transportation in those areas could pique the interest of real estate developers to also take advantage of those opportunity zone incentives to build affordable housing close to new transportation hubs, or at least areas that have easy access to new transportation. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Eviction moratorium extended through June, but is that a positive?

Two days before it was set to expire, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it was extending its nationwide eviction moratorium through the end of June. This puts an additional 90 days onto…

Eviction moratorium extended through June, but is that a positive?

Two days before it was set to expire, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it was extending its nationwide eviction moratorium through the end of June. This puts an additional 90 days onto the moratorium, which was supposed to expire at the end of March. This moratorium, which was put in place in September 2020 as a way to try and assist renters who may have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been challenged in courts throughout various states in the country. This moratorium, while helpful in theory, has created unintended consequences in the months since it came into existence. It has created a backlog of pending evictions because some renters aren’t paying their rent, and as soon as it is lifted, the courts will be deluged with eviction hearings. And secondly, it has thrust mom-and-pop landlords into a financial bind of their own, suddenly forced to make mortgage payments on properties in which they have not been receiving rent from their tenants. These properties also tend to have slim profit margins to begin with, meaning that after a couple months, the property owner is in danger of getting behind or even defaulting on the mortgage. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), has been at the forefront of the challenges to the moratorium and has successfully lobbied for federal rental assistance in an effort to prevent the problems created by the moratorium becoming a crisis that hurts both the landlords and the tenants. “NAR helped secure $25 billion in 2020 and another $21.55 billion (in March) in federal rental assistance funding, which can be paid directly to property owners,” said NAR chief advocacy officer Shannon McGahn in a press release. “This was critical to averting a multifamily real estate crisis, as many of our nation’s housing providers are mom-and-pop operations. “Our focus now turns to ensuring there is not just enough funding but also a smooth implementation of rental assistance while the various challenges to eviction bans work their way through the courts.” The CDC order has allowed for an eviction to be stayed if a renter declares that they have tried to make timely payments of their rent, meet certain employment and income requirements, and have pursued all appropriate government assistance. With the announcement of the extension in March, the CDC expanded the order to include renters “who are confirmed to have, who have been exposed to, or who might have been exposed to COVID-19 and take reasonable precautions to spread the disease.” And while this is a hit to the property owners, the housing providers can still evict tenants for non-financial reasons that would violate the landlord-tenant contract, including property damage and criminal activity. “Rental assistance averted two crises—one for mom-and-pop property owners who did not have a reprieve from their bills and relied on their rental income and one for tenants who would have been responsible for months of back rent when the eviction moratoriums expired,” McGahn said. “We must continue to look for ways to protect tenants and property owners from further financial turmoil while ensuring housing in America remains safe and stable for decades to come.” [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Fair Housing Month Feature: NeighborWorks America

The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is…

Fair Housing Month Feature: NeighborWorks America

Fair Housing Month Feature The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is deeply committed to improving fair housing protections to make property ownership accessible for all Americans. We know that a critical step to achieve equity in homeownership is to support organizations and advocates who are dedicated to protecting fair housing rights and expanding opportunity. Meet NeighborWorks America, a nonprofit with a network of nearly 250 organizations nationwide[1] that creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. NeighborWorks America’s Senior Vice President Lee Anne Adams explains the common barriers people face in the homebuying process, how the NeighborWorks network helps people access sustainable homeownership, and what the future of fair housing looks like.
Why is equitable access to housing so important?
Lee Anne: Homeownership is a means to build long-term generational wealth. Passing on a home and land from one generation to the next creates a path to family wealth-building. That wealth also provides a means for families to invest in their children’s education or to start a business. Before the passing of the Fair Housing Act in 1968, black families were locked out of the chance to create generational wealth because they were denied mortgage loans and access to certain neighborhoods. Our 2020 Housing and Financial Capability Survey found that only 40% of black people own their home[2]. In reality, the gap between black and white homeownership rates is wider now than it was prior to when race-based discrimination was legal. Homeownership is one of the most impactful ways to help address the racial wealth gap in our nation.
What are common obstacles and discrimination that people face when trying to rent or buy a home?
Lee Anne: Common obstacles people face when trying to rent or buy a home include lack of down payment or first month’s rent, access to affordable credit, lack of affordable supply and lack of knowledge about and/or resources to help with the process. We recommend that potential homebuyers not go it alone. HUD-approved housing counselors are available at NeighborWorks organizations across the country to help people seeking housing stability prepare for buying a home. This includes helping people understand the process, what to expect, how to set financial goals and improve their credit score and how to choose a first mortgage product.
How does your organization help individuals and families overcome the barriers to housing access to increase equity in housing?
Lee Anne: Our network of nearly 250 organizations nationwide helps people access sustainable homeownership by offering a range of services from financial coaching to pre-purchase counseling and homebuyer education to down payment assistance programs and affordable first mortgage products. Our network also owns and manages nearly 180,000 affordable rental homes for individuals and families[3]. We are proud to have partnered with Wells Fargo since 2012 on the Let’s Invest for Tomorrow (LIFT) down payment assistance program, which has provided more than $330 million in down payment assistance and created more than 24,000 homeowners[4], 63% of which are minorities[5]. Over 40% of LIFT participants report that they pay less for housing than they did prior to closing[6]. One borrower’s monthly housing costs decreased from $1,000 per month to about $700 once they became a homeowner.
What does the future of fair housing look like?
Lee Anne: Our industry must remain diligent in our work and exponentially expand opportunities and assistance for people to obtain and sustain affordable housing.
“To overcome the longstanding and growing inequities in our communities, we need to reach common goals and align resources across sectors to make impact.”
A variety of partners need to invest in down payment assistance programs, housing counseling, financial coaching and other services. Additionally, policies and financing that favor affordable single-family and multi-family development is critical. While the challenges are real, the possibilities are numerous. With investment to scale what works and new policy solutions, we can remove barriers and create opportunities for all people to access housing. Learn more about NeighborWorks America.
About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
Sign The American Property Owners Alliance petition to Congress urging them to support property owners and remove barriers to more affordable housing. Click here
  [social_warfare]
Take Advantage of These Free Online Seminars and Videos for Fair Housing Month

As we welcome Spring this April we also welcome Fair Housing Month. After such a tumultuous 2020, it’s a particularly important time to focus on this matter and put great efforts into providing equal and…

Take Advantage of These Free Online Seminars and Videos for Fair Housing Month

As we welcome Spring this April we also welcome Fair Housing Month. After such a tumultuous 2020, it’s a particularly important time to focus on this matter and put great efforts into providing equal and fair housing for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the firsthand connection between health and housing when many officials refused to view these as human rights, despite the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Millions of Americans lived in fear of losing their homes during these unforeseen hardships, and many did. Household Pulse reports that millions of residents still owe large housing payments – approximately 12.1 million adult renters as of mid-March. It’s apparent now more than ever that the country’s social safety net programs offer incompetent security. Whether you’re a renter, landlord, investor, or simply hoping to educate yourself on the matter, there are a plethora of free seminars, workshops, Q+As, and films focusing on fair housing that you can take advantage of this month. 1. Jim Crow of the North Film and Panel Discussion / Thursday, April 22, 2021, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM EDT Jim Crow of the North is a compelling Twin Cities PBS documentary that examines the history of redlining in Minneapolis and systematic racism both then and today. The film shows how segregation has and continues, to construct cities. In honor of Fair Housing Month, High Plains Fair Housing Center (FHC) will be hosting an online watch party and leading a discussion panel. Experts will talk about the film and engage on housing discrimination over the years and what it looks like today. They will also be discussing how others can help to put an end to housing discrimination and different ways to get involved, particularly in North Dakota, where High Plains FHC is based. The center is a non-profit organization working tirelessly to defeat housing discrimination. For those who can’t make the watch party, you can watch the film here and still catch the discussion at 9:30 PM on April 22nd. 2. Know Your Rights! Fair Housing & Tenant Skills Webinar / Monday, April 26, 2021, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT Springfield Town Library of Vermont is hosting this workshop on fair housing, specifically in the state of Vermont but they will be discussing the fundamentals of tenant rights that apply to renters all over the country. Wendy Rowe and Corrine Yonce of Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) will be taking the lead in this conversation, who specializes in housing advocacy programs. CVOEO works to bring issues of economic, social, and racial justice to light and help members of the community attain financial autonomy. This webinar will fill you in on the A-Zs of your rights as a tenant. From security deposits to the account of the Fair Housing Act, this workshop will cover it all and welcomes questions. Start your week off with this informative webinar on Monday, the 26th at 11 AM. 3. Fair Housing Friday: Going Forward / Friday, April 30, 2021, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT This is another great webinar from High Plains FHC in North Dakota with a different approach. In this discussion, the team at High Plains FHC will reflect on the past year as a whole and what impactful changes have been made. Specifically, they will take a look at how Bostock v. Clayton County finally labeled LGBTQ+ housing discrimination under sex discrimination. They will be discussing other recent White House developments on the matter as well, such as President Biden’s memorandum on housing discrimination. This discussion will allow for impressions, criticisms, and most importantly, plotting what we can do moving forward to ensure every individual is receiving fair housing. Chime in on Friday, the 30th at noon. 4. Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History / 6 ½-minute video This short video is an excellent refresher on the Fair Housing Act that’s easy to watch and understand. Code Switch, an NPR collective and podcast focusing on race, ethnicity, and culture, put this video together to express an important message – “Housing segregation is in everything.” Folks cheered to the end of housing discrimination when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1968, as the act made it illegal to do so. Although, this law certainly hasn’t stopped discrimination. Code Switch co-host Gene Demby uses this platform to point out why we still see so much segregation within housing and neighborhoods today. Demby elaborates on the impact government actions have had on communities. 5. America Divided: A House Divided / 44-minute video America Divided is a documentary series that explores the inequality crisis by revealing America’s systemic issues. With exceptional production and noteworthy guests, their raw approach will offer powerful and motivational perspectives. This episode follows Norman Lear, co-producer alongside Common and Shonda Rhimes, as he focuses on housing in NYC. Lear delves into the crisis of the unhoused community in the metropolis. Over the course of the episode, he chats with New Yorkers regarding housing to better understand the situation and examine the city’s affordability crisis. "This is our America. And it isn’t what we promised," Lear solemnly claims. 6. Seven Days / 9-minute video This short film was released in 2018 by Nationwide, in partnership with the National Fair Housing Alliance, and recounts the seven days between Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and the signing of the Fair Housing Act. When President Johnson announced that MLK Jr. was shot, a nationwide upheaval broke out. Johnson clambered to keep the country together and accelerate the fair housing bill, which he managed to do in just seven days. This 9-minute video does an excellent job narrating that week in 1968 and illustrating the gravity of the Civil Rights Act. President Johnson quotes in the documentary, “Few in the nation believed that fair housing would, in our time, become the unchallenged law of this land. And indeed this bill has had a long and stormy trip.” Johnson remarks on the struggles of passing this bill in 1968, and now, 53 years later, Americans are still fighting for equal rights. 7. The Basics of the Fair Housing Act / 90-minute video Lastly, for those who are somewhat unfamiliar with the Fair Housing Act, or the Civil Rights Act of 1968, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers this in-depth video that was actually created as a training program, so you know all details will be covered. While this is an extensive training video, it was created for both housing providers and anyone interested in educating themselves and learning more about the Fair Housing Act. The video includes all of the basics of the Fair Housing Act with a comprehensive commentary. When introducing the video, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Anna Maria Farias, goes on to say, “But more importantly, today's training will help you gain a clearer understanding of the continued relevance of this landmarked law.” HUD is committed to spreading this information far and wide while continuing to work incessantly to stop discrimination. “Discrimination still exists. Each year, HUD and our many fair housing partners receive thousands of complaints from individuals and families alleging that their rights were violated, so our work isn’t done,” she continues. Regardless of your living situation, taking advantage of these free resources during Fair Housing Month will benefit you, your community, and anyone you encounter down the road. As Farias says, “Housing discrimination is not only wrong, it’s illegal, and in a country founded on the principles of justice and equality, housing discrimination is unacceptable.” [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Our Priorities: COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted every American for more than a year. Housing has felt the brunt of that impact. Whether it’s a homeowner, a landlord, a renter or a person or family looking…

Our Priorities: COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted every American for more than a year.

Housing has felt the brunt of that impact. Whether it’s a homeowner, a landlord, a renter or a person or family looking to buy their first home, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on what we knew – or thought we knew – about the housing market.

That’s why the American Property Owners Alliance has put together this page: Our Priorities: COVID-19.

It’s a catch-all for what the new normal will look like when it comes to housing and how the ever-changing face of the housing world will be forever impacted by this pandemic.

Coronavirus Resource Directory for Landlords and Tenants

A definitive resource for landlords and renters to find the answers to questions regarding COVID-19, rights and protections, government announcements, and tools. Published and maintained by Avail.co How Coronavirus Spreads The virus that causes COVID-19…

Coronavirus Resource Directory for Landlords and Tenants

A definitive resource for landlords and renters to find the answers to questions regarding COVID-19, rights and protections, government announcements, and tools. Published and maintained by Avail.co How Coronavirus Spreads The virus that causes COVID-19 spreads relatively easily and quickly. Follow the CDC's best practices and guidelines to reduce the spread. Coronavirus Symptoms Read the CDC's guide to recognizing symptoms of COVID-19. If you're feeling sick or think you may have come into contact within someone who is infected, read this guide. How to Protect Yourself from Coronavirus There are ways to protect yourself from contracting COVID-19. Hint: social distancing really helps. What To Do If You're Sick Read the CDC's recommendations of what to do if you begin to feel sick. Don't take a chance, or worse, not take any action. See what the CDC recommends you do next. Congress Passes Third COVID-19 Federal Relief Package Get the summary and details of the three phases Congress approved as part of the coronavirus relief package. Financial Services Committee Responds to FAQs Members of Congress who make up the Financial Services Committee Respond to frequently asked questions regarding the CARES act. Read the questions and answers here. To see the entire list of resources, visit the original published posting here. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
The places where homeownership is leading to the largest wealth gains

A household’s wealth is often mostly represented by the home in which they live, assuming it is owned by those residing in the home. It has long been understood that homeownership is one of the…

The places where homeownership is leading to the largest wealth gains

A household’s wealth is often mostly represented by the home in which they live, assuming it is owned by those residing in the home. It has long been understood that homeownership is one of the best ways to build wealth. According to data from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), a home represents approximately 90% of the total wealth of a household. And because there are still racial and gender gaps in the U.S. when it comes to income and wealth inequality, the fastest way to start to close them is to bolster homeownership among those who have been marginalized because of their race and/or gender. How much wealth can be gained over time just by owning a home? NAR senior economist Gay Cororaton offered the following example: “Take a homeowner who purchased a single-family existing home 10 years ago at the median sales price of $170,567, with a 10% down payment,” Cororaton wrote in the NAR economist outlook blog. “Then, they sold the home at the median sales price of $315,700 in the fourth quarter of 2020. They would have built up a home equity gain of $176,123. Over a 30-year period, that would jump to $307,979.” The average homeowner moves every 10 years. Most of the wealth gain is from price appreciation on a home. This accounts for 82% of the wealth gain over the span of a decade. “Wealth accumulation takes time, so the earlier households start owning homes, the greater the wealth accumulation,” Cororaton wrote. And in some places, the wealth accumulates faster than others. Sometimes, much faster. NAR data show that in certain metropolitan markets, wealth - in terms of equity - is growing at a rate that is about a full decade faster than some others. A lot of that has to do with job creation, businesses setting up roots in a specific area, and a strong economy. The areas that saw the greatest wealth gains from homeownership between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the fourth quarter of 2020 were in areas that shouldn’t surprise:
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-St. Clara, Calif.: $929,471
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.: $761,204
  • Anaheim-Sta. Ana-Irvine, Calif.: $509,806
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif: $430,196
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.: $427,896
  • Urban Honolulu: $412,986
  • Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island, Fla.: $379,243
Higher-priced areas will always see the largest gains from a pure dollars sense because a 30% increase in gains on a $1 million home is always going to be more than a 30% increase on a $350,000 home. But the reality is, even in markets where the home prices haven’t skyrocketed as quickly, equity in the home you own can accumulate quickly. Other markets in the top 10 include Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. ($374,526), Boulder, Colo. ($370,800) and Reno, Nev. ($324,577). The metropolitan areas with the smallest wealth growth over a 10-year span were Binghamton, N.Y. ($28,064), Decatur, Ill. ($28,970), Peoria, Ill. ($31,484), Bloomington, Ill. ($32,861), Elmira, N.Y. ($43,669), Springfield, Ill. ($45,821), Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Iowa ($46,749), Charleston, W. Va. ($46,774), Erie, Pa. ($47,940) and Cumberland, Md.-W. Va. ($52,534). To see the full list of each of the 181 metropolitan areas tracked by NAR and to sort by wealth gains over the past five, 10, 15 or 30 years, click here. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Boston plan for shifting police funds a template to help affordable housing

It was a rough 2020 for the police in the city of Boston. Like every other police force in America, not only were they caught up  in the social awakening in the aftermath of the…

Boston plan for shifting police funds a template to help affordable housing

It was a rough 2020 for the police in the city of Boston. Like every other police force in America, not only were they caught up  in the social awakening in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis officers, but the Boston PD had to deal with its own overtime pay scandal This only further separated the gap in trust between the force and the citizens of the city. Amid the fervor, then-Mayor Martin Walsh and the City Council decided that the police overtime budget would be slashed by $12 million, and that the money would be used to help address racial disparities in Boston. Recently, the city has put action behind those words, and it is helping marginalized people be able to buy a home. In February, the Mayor’s office announced that it was earmarking $250,000 of those cut overtime funds, plus an additional $75,000 to create a matching-grant program that would help lower- and middle-income individuals or families to buy a home in Boston. The grant program establishes $5,000 for each qualifying “first-generation” home buyer who was able to contribute $2,500 of their own money toward a down payment. The grant program is part of a partnership with the Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance (MAHA), a non-profit organization that concentrates on helping families in need to prepare to buy a home in Boston. At the time of the announcement, Walsh, who was confirmed as Secretary of Labor for President Biden’s administration in March, released a statement that, in part, said, “Now, more than ever in Boston, we must take steps to create equitable opportunities and access to resources for all Bostonians. Improving pathways to homeownership can help address disparities in wealth.” Boston is no different than most large cities in America, where the wealth gap between whites and blacks is stark. The city is hoping that their new program can become a model for other cities nationwide to help close that gap and improve communities one new homeowner at a time. Homeowners are more likely to have accumulated wealth than renters, thanks to home equity – which can help financially in many ways, whether its’s to start a small business, help pay for college education or simply to pass on to the next generation so they can buy their own home as well. MAHA initially launched its program two years ago using multiple grants provided by Wells Fargo, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Boston Real Estate Board to help these homebuyers – and they classify them as first-generation, not first-time, in order to include people whose parents didn’t own a home or who lost one in foreclosure. According to the Boston Globe, MAHA had enrolled 168 people into classes they offer on homebuying preparations and of that group, 14 went on to actually buy a home. The hope is those numbers will grow with the assistance of the city’s partnership. Improving homeownership, especially in Latino and Black communities, had been a top priority for Walsh and his administration. In his tenure, the city has approved the development of thousands of new apartments in an effort to increase supply and stabilize housing costs. Kim Janey has taken over as acting mayor for now, but an election for the office will be coming in November, when housing advocates hope that homeownership and affordable housing are tops on the list of priorities for all candidates running for Mayor. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Housing gap between white and black homeowners still isn’t closing

Historically low mortgage rates made it so that the housing market was able to stay strong during the pandemic. Prices are high, homes are selling quickly. Things are moving along like clockwork. But not for…

Housing gap between white and black homeowners still isn’t closing

Historically low mortgage rates made it so that the housing market was able to stay strong during the pandemic. Prices are high, homes are selling quickly. Things are moving along like clockwork. But not for everybody. It has been 53 years since the Fair Housing Act passed through Congress, and yet, the gap between white homeownership and Black homeownership is still just as wide. This is according to data provided by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) as part of their second annual report that examined racial gaps in homeownership, both nationwide and state-to-state. According to the Federal Reserve, the net worth of a homeowner was $255,000, which is 40 times that of a renter. If you combine that with the NAR data that in the last decade, Black Americans have seen the largest dip in home ownership rates, this paints a stark picture. As the wealth gains of homeowners increase, the number of Blacks owning homes has decreased. It doesn’t help that financial institutions are denying mortgages to Black prospective home buyers 2 ½ times more than prospective white buyers, according to NAR. Blacks also are more likely to have student loan debt, which impacts the ability to save enough money for a down payment. With the rise in home prices, coupled with it becoming harder and harder for lower- and middle-income earners to be able to come up with that down payment, more potential buyers are being priced out of the market. And because of the wealth gap in America, potential Black homebuyers are making up a significant portion of the cohort who struggle to afford a home. It is a vicious cycle that has been rotating for more than five decades now. “We need to find solutions for everyone to have the same opportunities for home ownership,” Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of forecasting at NAR and one of the authors of the report told the Philadelphia Inquirer, recently. The Biden administration is pushing for a tax credit of up to $15,0000 for first-time homebuyers to try and help make homes more affordable, but NAR also wants to push Congress to consider incentives for builders and developers to create more affordable housing units and increase the supply of homes available that is at critical lows nationwide. In 2019, the white homeownership rate nationally was nearly 70%. South Carolina, Mississippi and Delaware had the highest rate of white home ownership at 78% each. But even in states where the white homeownership was the lowest, the rate was still approximately 50%. There was a stark difference for Black homeownership where, as nationally, the rate was just 42% in 2019. The highest rate of Black homeownership was in Puerto Rico (70%), indicating that decades old redlining of neighborhoods still impacts the 50 U.S. states, making it harder for Blacks to purchase homes outside of lower-income neighborhoods. Maryland (52%) and South Carolina (52%) were the only states to cross the 50% plateau for black homeownership. And the states with the lowest rates of Black home ownership were North Dakota (5%), Wyoming (18%) and Montana (20%) The national median price of existing homes was $309,800, a 40% increase from 2015, and while that number has gone up nationally, just 43% of Black Americans can afford to buy a home, compared to 63% of white Americans. According to NAR, whites bought 81% of all homes purchased in 2019; Blacks bought just 7%. And while other ethnic groups have also struggled at times to purchase homes, NAR found that during the pandemic, as mortgage rates plummeted, slightly more Asian, Latino, Hispanic and Pacific Islander buyers purchased homes than prior to the pandemic. However, the share of Black homebuyers remained stagnant, even with the historically low mortgage interest rates. "This data reinforces the need to implement key policy initiatives NAR developed in concert with the Urban Institute and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers to address the Black homeownership gap," NAR President Charlie Oppler, a REALTOR® from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby's International said in a press release. "Specifically, this five-point plan developed in 2019 calls on the nation to: advance policy solutions at the local level; tackle housing supply constraints and affordability; promote an equitable and accessible housing finance system; provide further outreach and counseling initiatives for renters and mortgage-ready millennials; and focus on sustainable homeownership and preservation initiatives." NAR used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to study homeownership and affordability by race. The REALTORS® also conducted a survey of 8,200 homebuyers from July 2019 through June 2020. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
6 Top Podcasts on Fair Housing

At a time when it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely, podcasts offer a sense of comfort, almost as if we’re listening to a good friend. There are endless topics that experts can chat in…

6 Top Podcasts on Fair Housing

At a time when it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely, podcasts offer a sense of comfort, almost as if we’re listening to a good friend. There are endless topics that experts can chat in our ear about, and that includes topics surrounding homeownership and fair housing. The lack of affordable and fair housing in America has accelerated since the pandemic hit. As an analysis by the NYU Furman Center found, those who are most likely to experience an “economic disruption” (i.e. losing a job or experiencing limited work hours) spent the majority of their income on housing. Even prior to the pandemic, half of renters in the U.S. spent 30 percent of their income on housing and the most impoverished Americans spent over half their income on rent, on average. Whether you’re a homeowner, potential homeowner, or simply interested in learning more about fair housing and how you can help, these 6 podcasts are an excellent place to start. Pop on an episode while tidying the kitchen, brushing your teeth, or taking a long bike ride!

1. The Fair Housing Podcast Questions and Answers

This fairly new podcast from Offit Kurman Attorneys At Law focuses on the slew of convoluted questions and issues that circle the problems akin to fair housing. As they say, “For residents, housing free from unlawful discrimination is a right; for landlords, it’s the law.” Join hosts John Raftery and Revée Walters as they discuss the matter and answer a variety of questions in order to ensure both landlords and property managers are well aware of the fundamentals of fair housing. The perspective from attorneys is a great resource for landlords and managers who want to support fair housing and help their tenants live comfortably and safely. To no surprise, each episode of The Fair Housing Podcast centers around fair housing, but here are two recommended episodes to get started with: Episode 12: Fair Housing Liability This episode highlights accountability issues surrounding fair housing, specifically if you could be sued or not if you violate fair housing as a landlord or property manager. Episode 10: Familial Status This episode focuses on how to not discriminate against families with children.

2. Shop Talk: The Real Estate Show

Shop Talk, brought to us by The CE Shop, has the goal of bettering real estate agents. They interview industry experts, ask the tough questions, and chat about unique real estate related subjects. “Real estate’s a dynamic industry, and we know you have interesting stories to tell about it,” they announce. While Shop Talk has some excellent episodes focusing on anything from 17-year-old real estate agents to haunted houses, this recent episode on fair housing is a great resource for real estate agents specifically: Episode 48: Fair Housing Real estate and equal opportunity for housing are forever intertwined, especially since the Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968. This episode breaks down the most frequent fair housing violations, how and why those laws are so important, and how real estate agents can provide the best experience to everyone looking for a home.

3. Selling St Pete with Nicole Saunches

Nicole Saunches’ podcast, Selling St Pete, is a one-stop-shop for anything real estate related in and around St. Petersburg, Florida. Nicole offers useful information for both current and potential homeowners, whether you’re on the buying or selling end of the process. Saunches works for Coastal Properties Group International, which has been one of Tampa Bay’s most successful real estate companies since they opened their doors in 2012. In 2019, they sold 145 homes that were over $1 million, so it’s safe to say Nicole’s advice when it comes to real estate is trustworthy. Nicole covers topics ranging from new construction to hurricane preparation. But in one of her most recent episodes, fair housing is the star of the show: Episode 32: Know Your Rights...A discussion about Fair Housing for all In this episode, Nicole Saunches is joined by two members of the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights – Jeffrey Lorick and Paul Valenti. They chat about fair housing from A-Z while reflecting on a recent training with the Pinellas Realtor Organization. The training, which Nicole claims was “one of, if not the best, training I have experienced in my real estate career,” specifically aimed attention on how constant bias can have a huge impact on Fair Housing laws.

4. TenantCloud: Property Management Podcast

TenantCloud is an all-in-one software that assists landlords with all things property management, so they’re clearly pros when it comes to the rental industry. Their podcast covers real estate, investment, DIY tips, news/laws, and likely anything else rental industry connected that comes to mind! With extremely useful information for landlords, such as insight into rental fraud and how the pandemic has shaped the real estate industry, it’s no wonder this podcast has nearly 5 stars. Each episode offers highly relevant advice for those who manage properties, but this episode from March 2020 clues landlords into specifics of the Fair Housing Act: Season 2, Episode 9: What Landlords Are Excluded from the Federal Fair Housing Act? Surprisingly enough, depending on the local, county and state laws, some landlords aren’t required to abide by the Federal Fair Housing Act. In this episode, TenantCloud discusses those specific scenarios and how crucial it is to follow Fair Housing laws, even if you may be absolved.

5. Selling Richmond: The Civic REALTOR®

This bimonthly podcast brought to us by the Richmond Association of REALTORS® follows different leaders in the Richmond area and the big decisions they make that directly affectrealtors and their clients. Host Joh Gehlbach, the Government Affairs Coordinator of Richmond Association of REALTORS®, chats with different directors and leaders of sorts in each episode to explore their recent accords in regard to the real estate industry. All 14 episodes present valuable insight into how so many considerable choices made by people in power have an impact on those around them and their community. This most recent episode is particularly pertinent as it references a recent law: Episode 14: Source of Income in the Virginia Fair Housing Act In this episode, Gehlbach talks with the Director of Fair Housing at Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia (HOME), Alex Guzmán. The two chat about source of income, as it is now a protected class in the Virginia Fair Housing Act as of July 1, 2020. Guzmán shares the relevance of this new law and how it broadens housing opportunities in Virginia.

6. The Holistic Housing Podcast

This podcast is created by NACCED, the National Association for County Community and Economic Development. It focuses on the politics of housing which, of course, highlights affordable and fair housing consistently. Each episode features policymakers and program implementers who are involved in community and economic development, as well as affordable housing. The different high-profile guests on the podcast discuss their experience, goals, and solutions on topics ranging from workforce development to homelessness. The hosts, Sarah and Laura, hope to show their audience how housing affects not only one’s quality of life, but the ability to lead a fruitful life. While this podcast is highly educational, it is also a hoot and the hosts offer some humor to help balance the seriousness of each topic. Much like most of the podcasts on this list, each episode is relevant to fair housing, but this episode from March 12 of this year highlights NLHP, the National Housing Law Project: Alt 137 In this episode, Noelle Porter, NLHP Director of Government Affairs, chats with Sarah and Laura about tenants’ rights. NLHP’s group of legal aid attorneys work every day to fight discrimination and support low-income renters that are facing eviction, which is especially significant now as so many tenants are struggling to pay their bills amidst the pandemic. Whether you’re a homeowner, dreaming of becoming a homeowner or property owner, a renter, a landlord, or just looking for ways to help create fair housing opportunities in your area, these podcasts will educate you while entertaining you. If books aren’t your thing and you’re sick of sitting in front of a screen for hours on end, podcasts offer conversational intellect that will keep you in the know when it comes to fair housing in America. These shows and episodes in particular do an exemplary job of breaking down some hard to digest information, allowing you to easily understand critical knowledge and materials that are necessary to understand whether you’re involved in the real estate industry, or simply curious about these trending topics. Just as you dream of the perfect, comfortable home, others do as well across all walks of life and socioeconomic statuses (SES). Let’s do whatever we can to ensure all citizens receive fair housing and live a comfortable life. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
COVID-19 Forbearance plans extended for Federal-backed mortgages

If you have a federal backed mortgage and you are on the COVID-19 forbearance plan, you may be eligible for an additional three-month extension. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), borrowers with mortgages…

COVID-19 Forbearance plans extended for Federal-backed mortgages

If you have a federal backed mortgage and you are on the COVID-19 forbearance plan, you may be eligible for an additional three-month extension. According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), borrowers with mortgages backed by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, who were on a forbearance plan as of the end of February, are eligible for an additional forbearance extension of up to three months, providing up to 15 months of coverage. This is up from the initial 12-month expiration date. This move comes on the heels of the FHFA extending multifamily forbearance policies in December 2020 and extending options for multifamily mortgages backed by Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSE’s) through the end of March. Additionally, moratoriums that were supposed to expire at the end of February on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions were also extended to the end of March. FHFA’s Director Mark Calabria told Housing Wire that the company’s recent actions are to “help keep families in their home during the pandemic.” It is estimated that 2.7 million American homeowners are in forbearance and the forbearance portfolio volume has been steady between 5% and 6% for more than four months, according to a survey conducted by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The FHFA projected that the COVID-19 moratorium on foreclosures and REO evictions could cost Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac upwards of $2 billion. The Federal Housing Administration plans to monitor the impact of the pandemic on the market and has already reported that if risk factors on certain policies become untenable that they will sunset those policies. [rsnippet id="7" name="Global Article Footer"]
Does it still make sense to put down 20% when buying a home?

Many people believe that before buying a home, they’ll need to have 20% of the purchase price ready in cash to use as a down payment. That can make the possibility of home ownership seem…

Does it still make sense to put down 20% when buying a home?

Many people believe that before buying a home, they’ll need to have 20% of the purchase price ready in cash to use as a down payment. That can make the possibility of home ownership seem overwhelming, as even buying a small property priced at $80,000 means needing $16,000 in cash at the ready, a difficult sum for many households to save.

But the notion that homebuyers need to put down 20% is a common misconception. There are lenders that can help you get a mortgage if you don’t have that much saved for the down payment. Depending on your situation, it may even be possible to get a mortgage without putting any of your own cash on the line.

However, just because you can potentially buy a house or apartment without putting down 20% doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages and see if it still makes sense to make a 20% down payment when you buy a home...



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An avalanche of evictions looms in N.J. Renters and landlords say it’s only going to get worse.

…Although tenants can’t be locked out for non-payment, the moratoria do not abate or cancel out their rent, and non-paying tenants fall deeper in debt every first of the month. The analysis by Stout estimated…

An avalanche of evictions looms in N.J. Renters and landlords say it’s only going to get worse.

...Although tenants can’t be locked out for non-payment, the moratoria do not abate or cancel out their rent, and non-paying tenants fall deeper in debt every first of the month.

The analysis by Stout estimated the total amount of unpaid rent through January in New Jersey could be as much as $832 million.

Advocates note that the money is owed largely by tenants who fell behind in the first place because they had lost their jobs and much or all of their incomes.

“Just because a moratorium ends doesn’t mean everybody’s got their job back, and a great many people are going to have trouble paying their rent going forward,” said Matt Shapiro, president of the New Jersey Tenants Organization...



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More than $100 million sitting unspent in program meant to help pay rent, utilities

A program designed to quickly pay rent and utility bills for people financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic has struggled to get money out the door. The HOPE Grant program was announced by N.C. Governor…

More than $100 million sitting unspent in program meant to help pay rent, utilities

A program designed to quickly pay rent and utility bills for people financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic has struggled to get money out the door.

The HOPE Grant program was announced by N.C. Governor Roy Cooper in October. By giving money to qualified applicants to pay rent, organizers hoped to help people struggling financially stay in this homes and also help landlords who depend on rental income.

On Thursday, Cooper and State Budget Director Charlie Perusse touted the program as a success in a press conference unveiling the governor’s budget proposal for this year.

“The HOPE Program that the Governor mentioned is a leader in the country. We were actually out in front of the federal government on this,” Perusse said of the program.

“The program received about $200 million in requests and we currently have gotten out about $125 million of that.”

But the program has spent less than half that amount, according to the agency administering the program...



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How will President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Affect You?

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law after narrow passages in both the House and Senate. It’s an early policy victory for the President and his administration, and is the first prong of…

How will President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Affect You?

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law after narrow passages in both the House and Senate. It’s an early policy victory for the President and his administration, and is the first prong of a two-part effort to boost the economy and help Americans who have felt the financial burden of the COVID-19 Pandemic for the past year. It is one of the first and biggest initiatives President Biden and his administration promised to undertake after his inauguration. The President will also roll out part two – an economic recovery plan that would focus on job creation as well as climate change – later in 2021. The American Rescue Plan will use $1.9 trillion to provide more aid for the unemployed, provide larger stimulus checks for Americans, find rental relief for renters facing eviction once moratoriums end, increase funding for vaccinations and testing for the coronavirus, and provide needed support for small businesses. Learn more about the benefits of this plan below:

PAYMENTS TO INDIVIDUALS

Larger Stimulus Checks: The Plan calls for another $1,400 in stimulus money to be sent to eligible taxpayers. Unlike the first stimulus last summer, adult dependents will also receive a check, as will families with mixed immigration, as spouses of undocumented immigrants were left without a check last summer. Greater Unemployment Assistance: Those without jobs will get a federal boost of $400 a week in their unemployment checks, an increase from the $300 boost approved by Congress in December. In addition, individuals in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program and those in the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program who have ran out of state money, will be eligible for this weekly boost. Aid for the Hungry: The Plan calls for the extension of the 15% food stamp benefit increase from June through September. Additionally, there is $3 billion in aid that would go to helping women, infants and children (WIC) purchase more food and an additional $1 billion in nutrition assistance for U.S. Territories. The Plan also calls for a public/private partnership between the federal government and restaurant owners to provide food for Americans in need and jobs for restaurant workers who have been laid off during the pandemic. Child Care Assistance: The Plan earmarks Congress to create a $25 billion emergency fund and add $15 billion to an existing grant program to help childcare providers pay for rent, utilities, and payroll, and other increased costs associated with the pandemic such as personal protective equipment.

HOUSING

Rental Assistance: The Plan will allocate an additional $25 billion on top of the $25 billion approved in December, to provide funding for low- and moderate-income households who lost their jobs during the pandemic and who are struggling to pay the rent. Additionally, it will provide another $5 billion in funding to help renters-in-need to pay their utility bills and $5 billion to stop those on the brink of homelessness from losing their home. Eviction Moratorium: The Plan extends the federal eviction moratorium through the end of September and allows for mortgage forbearance applications to be applied for through September 30 as well, as long as the mortgage is federally guaranteed.

TAXES

Increase in Child Tax credits: The Plan will increase the childcare tax credit for one year so that families will get back up to 50 percent of the money spent on childcare for any child under the age of 13. Additionally, there is going to be a temporary increase in the Child Tax Credit to $3,600 for children six-years-old or younger and $3,000 for children between the ages of six and 17 for one year. The credit is also fully refundable. Increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit: The Plan raises the maximum Earned income Tax Credit to $1,500 for one year for adults without children, increase the income limit for the credit to $21,000 and expand the eligible age to help cover older workers.

HEALTH

Subsidize Health Insurance Premiums: The Plan compels Congress to subsidize the premiums for individuals who lost their work-based health insurance through the end of September. Additionally, it expands the premium subsidies of the Affordable Care Act where those enrolled wouldn’t have to pay more than 8.5% of their income for coverage. It also requires Congress to fund $4 billion for mental health and substance use disorder services while adding an additional $20 billion for veteran health care needs. Bringing Back Emergency Paid Leave: The Plan is reinstating paid sick and family leave benefits that expired in December, through September 30. This benefit will also be extended to large businesses (more than 500 employees) and small businesses (fewer than 50) and add federal workers who were ineligible with the original program. The Plan provides 14 weeks of paid leave for individuals who are sick, quarantining, or caring for a child whose school is closed. Businesses with fewer than 500 employees would receive a 100 percent reimbursement from the government. More support for vaccines and testing: The Plan provides a $20 billion investment in a national vaccination program that would create vaccination centers in communities across the country and provide mobile units in areas that are harder to reach. An additional investment of $50 billion will go toward testing, providing funds for rapid testing, expanded lab space and have regular testing implemented at schools so they can reopen sooner and safer. This should create 100,000 new public health jobs, which, if it comes to fruition, would practically triple the current workforce. This investment also expands community health centers and health services on tribal land and supports long-term care facilities and prisons to prevent outbreaks.

ECONOMY

Grants for Small Businesses: The Plan provides $15 billion to create a new grant program for small businesses that is separate from the Paycheck Protection Program. It also invests $35 billion in state, local, tribal and non-profit programs to provide low-interest loans and venture capital for those looking to start a business or invest in one. Provide assistance for states and schools: The Plan will send $350 billion to state and local governments to keep frontline workers employed, distribute the vaccine more rapidly, continue to increase testing and get schools reopened. Additionally, $20 billion is be appropriated for hard-hit public transit agencies to prevent layoffs and route elimination. Meanwhile, $170 billion is earmarked for elementary, high schools and colleges and universities to help them reopen safely or continue to facilitate remote learning. Increase Minimum Wage: The Plan will have Congress approve a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, eliminate tipped minimum wage and the sub-minimum wage for individuals with disabilities.
Unpaid landlords say they can’t pay their bills –or get new tenants

A moratorium on evictions is forcing small landlords on Long Island to run up credit card balances, take out loans and default on their own bills. Sheriffs on the Island haven’t carried out residential evictions…

Unpaid landlords say they can’t pay their bills –or get new tenants

A moratorium on evictions is forcing small landlords on Long Island to run up credit card balances, take out loans and default on their own bills.

Sheriffs on the Island haven't carried out residential evictions since March, when the state began curtailing court activity in the early days of COVID-19.

With the virus straining many industries, thousands of Long Islanders have lost jobs and are struggling with basic expenses like rent. The government passed policies and bolstered benefits designed to protect renters. Only a fraction of that relief has reached landlords, and some small property owners are reeling...

[social_warfare]
The January jobs report was disappointing, could that hurt the housing market?

January jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released late last week showed a small 0.4% rise in employment. While the rise was lower than many experts had anticipated, it does represent a change…

The January jobs report was disappointing, could that hurt the housing market?

January jobs numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released late last week showed a small 0.4% rise in employment. While the rise was lower than many experts had anticipated, it does represent a change in direction from December’s net job losses.

While the number of workers on temporary layoff dropped in January, there was little change in the 3.5 million Americans who have been laid off permanently. In addition, four million Americans are still long-term unemployed, jobless for 27 weeks or more. Industry experts and analysts largely agree that moderate jobs growth like this reflects just how driven the economic recovery is by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The question now, as widespread vaccination efforts get underway, is whether we will see a steady and accelerating recovery through the remainder of the year, or if we will be plagued with small increases and decreases in unemployment until herd immunity is achieved.



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Rental Assistance Program: Good news for tenants and possibly landlords

The recently enacted $2.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021(the Act), which combined a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill as part of a larger $1.4 trillion omnibus spending and appropriations bill for the 2021 federal fiscal…

Rental Assistance Program: Good news for tenants and possibly landlords

The recently enacted $2.3 trillion Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021(the Act), which combined a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill as part of a larger $1.4 trillion omnibus spending and appropriations bill for the 2021 federal fiscal year, contains key provisions that directly impact the hard-hit real estate industry.

In particular, Section 501 of Subtitle A of Title V of Division N of the Act establishes the “Emergency Rental Assistance program” (ERA), which appropriates $25 billion through the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) to provide eligible households with direct financial housing assistance. The enactment of the ERA provides landlords, tenants, borrowers, potential buyers, financial institutions and small businesses with a necessary lifeline to weather the ongoing economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.



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Landlords pandemic protocols range from strict to laisse-faire

Brooke Bayer ran through her mental list of must-haves as she searched this fall for an apartment to share with her boyfriend. They both needed office space. Their building had to welcome Hazel, her miniature…

Landlords pandemic protocols range from strict to laisse-faire

Brooke Bayer ran through her mental list of must-haves as she searched this fall for an apartment to share with her boyfriend. They both needed office space. Their building had to welcome Hazel, her miniature schnauzer. And their new place had to be serious about pandemic safety protocols.

Policies at Southstar Lofts in Center City, where she lived until last month, had made her feel as safe as she could feel while COVID-19 cases skyrocketed and she called a multifamily building home. The apartment has increased cleaning in shared spaces, asked residents not to ride elevators with people from different households, and removed chairs from the lobby to discourage lingering, among other policies. Signs remind everyone that masks are mandatory, and people should keep their distance.

Easing first-time homebuyers’ fears

Buying your first home is exciting, but it also can be a little scary. Going from renter to homeowner is a big step, one you will not want to take without preparation and assistance. Several…

Easing first-time homebuyers’ fears

Buying your first home is exciting, but it also can be a little scary. Going from renter to homeowner is a big step, one you will not want to take without preparation and assistance. Several issues should be addressed early in the process, such as financing and whether you will work with a REALTOR®. A recent survey by the National Association of REALTORS® revealed that 88 percent of buyers reported using an agent to purchase their home.

Most buyers use agents who are referred by friends or family members.Jason Gutierrez with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Don Johnson REALTORS® has spent more than a decade helping first-time homebuyers in the San Antonio area navigate the process. Gutierrez said 80 percent of his clients are first-time homebuyers. I recently talked to him about the local real estate market and how he helps his clients prepare to become homeowners.

What Landlords Should Know about the COVID-19 Rent Relief Act

There has been extensive press coverage about the need for an eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic, but little about the effect that moratorium has on residential landlords. Congress attempted to help landlords indirectly in…

What Landlords Should Know about the COVID-19 Rent Relief Act

There has been extensive press coverage about the need for an eviction moratorium during the COVID-19 pandemic, but little about the effect that moratorium has on residential landlords.

Congress attempted to help landlords indirectly in the original CARES Act, by making money available for rent relief. However, there wasn’t sufficient money, tenants were at a loss where to go to ask for such relief, and some tenants had no incentive to even ask for relief. The $900 billion December 2020 COVID-19 relief bill includes $25 billion for the Emergency Rental Arrears Program (ERAP). The new law allows landlords to apply for the tenant, if necessary. Both the tenant and landlord will benefit from this new rent relief law.

When then-President Trump signed the new COVID-19 relief bill into law, the Department of Treasury took quick action on the rent relief money.

Within days, a deadline of January 12, 2021, was set for eligible state and local governments to apply for money. An eligible local government is any such entity with a population of at least 200,000...



[social_warfare]
10 Facts for Millennials During Their 2021 Homeownership Journey

Today’s average Millennial with aspirations of owning a home would do well not to give up. We’re talking about 25 to 38 year-olds who are first-time home shoppers and feel priced-out of the current market.…

10 Facts for Millennials During Their 2021 Homeownership Journey

Today’s average Millennial with aspirations of owning a home would do well not to give up. We’re talking about 25 to 38 year-olds who are first-time home shoppers and feel priced-out of the current market.

Compiled by Benton Capital Mortgage Lending, here are 10 solid housing and mortgage facts about the 2021 market that are encouraging to read as many Millennials stick to their homeownership hopes and dreams and stay ahead of the pack.



[social_warfare]
Mortgage Tailwinds and Headwinds

The COVID-19 pandemic is a historically unique event for all sectors. There’s no playbook, and it’s clear that only some of our experience through the housing crisis will help us to navigate today’s challenges. We’ve…

Mortgage Tailwinds and Headwinds

The COVID-19 pandemic is a historically unique event for all sectors. There’s no playbook, and it’s clear that only some of our experience through the housing crisis will help us to navigate today’s challenges. We’ve had to get comfortable with the wait-and-see strategy, ready to pivot on the latest regulatory guidance, jobs report, or stay-at-home order. As we head into 2021, there’s one segment of the housing market that remains an important bellwether even in these uncertain times: the first-time homebuyer market.

First-time homebuyers are important because they take a housing unit from the market, but don’t give one back, creating pure growth in homeownership. Over the past five years, the first-time homebuyer segment has grown tremendously. However, they have not been immune to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. To best support the health of this important segment of the housing market in the New Year, it’s helpful to have an idea of what first-time homebuyers have going for—and against—them.



[social_warfare]
Existing home prices increase in every tracked metropolitan area in the U.S.

It’s hard to find silver linings related to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, if you are a homeowner who is looking to sell your home, you’re likely going to be able to sell your property and…

Existing home prices increase in every tracked metropolitan area in the U.S.

It’s hard to find silver linings related to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, if you are a homeowner who is looking to sell your home, you’re likely going to be able to sell your property and potentially make some money in the process.

That’s because home prices went up everywhere at the end of 2020. And when we say everywhere, we mean everywhere.

According to data from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), existing home prices rose in all 183 metropolitan areas that are tracked in the fourth quarter of 2020. And in 88 percent of those markets, there were double digit price gains.

BY comparison, 115 of the metropolitan areas saw price growth in the third quarter.

“The fourth quarter of 2020 presented circumstances ripe for home price increases,” Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist told CNN. “Mortgage rates reached record lows, thereby driving up the demand. At the same time, inventory levels also reached record lows, leading to grim inventory conditions of insufficient supply in the fourth quarter.”

The national average mortgage payment on an existing single-family home increased by $20 per month from $1,020 to $1,040 from the fourth quarter of 2019. This means the national average family income needed to afford a home also increased by nearly $1,000, from $48,960 in the fourth quarter of 2019 to $49,908 in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The Metro areas that saw the biggest increase were mostly in the Northeast corridor of the country, as well as in Florida. Neither location is surprising, but there were also big gains in Washington and Idaho, which may be a little less expected.

Bridgeport, Conn. saw the biggest increase, with prices jumping 40% in one year. Pittsfield, Mass. (32%), Naples, Fla. and Atlantic City, N.J. (both 30%) were the others that jumped by such a large margin.

Increases between 24% and 29% were identified in Crestview, Fla. (29%), Barnstable, Mass (29%), Boise City, Idaho (27%), Spokane, Wash. (24%), Kingston, N.Y. (24%), and Binghamton, N.Y. (24%)

What’s noticeable about this list is it appears the attraction for the purchase of existing homes seems to be hottest in areas that are within driving distance to a major metropolitan area but may be far enough out to provide a more affordable option, or are part of a vacation destination, which could mean buyers are thinking of these homes as potential investment properties.

The other possibility, Yun said, is that with more and more companies allowing employees to work from home, either part-time or full-time, these locations are more desirable to own a home, as you can be away from the hustle and bustle and still do your job.

It’s a true have “your cake and eat it too” situation for homebuyers.

Not surprisingly, the most expensive areas of the county to live were in California, specifically the Silicon Valley. Here, the median home sale price in San Jose is $1.4 million. San Francisco was the only other city with a median price north of a million bucks ($1.14 million), but Anaheim is getting closer ($935,000).

Rounding out the top 10 most expensive metropolitan areas are Honolulu ($902,500), San Diego ($740,000), Los Angeles ($688,700), Boulder, Colo. ($661,300), Seattle ($614,700), Nassau County, N.Y., or the suburban part of Long Island ($591,600) and Boston ($579,100).

Boulder was the only Metro in the top 10 that didn’t see a double-digit percentage price increase.

While this has been a boon for those looking to sell, the tipping point for buyers might not be far off, and prices will have nowhere to go but down.

“The average, working family is struggling to contend with home prices that are rising much faster than income,” Yun told CNN. “This sidelines a consumer from becoming an actual buyer, causing them to miss out on accumulating wealth from homeownership.”

[social_warfare]
The Alliance Helped Secure Key Tax Incentives for Property Owners in 2020

The American Property Owners Alliance helped secure extensions of several tax benefits for property owners in the COVID-19 Relief Package passed at the end of 2020. Here are some key tax provisions that you should…

The Alliance Helped Secure Key Tax Incentives for Property Owners in 2020

The American Property Owners Alliance helped secure extensions of several tax benefits for property owners in the COVID-19 Relief Package passed at the end of 2020. Here are some key tax provisions that you should be aware of when filing this year.

Tax Incentives for Property Owners



Preserving and expanding tax benefits for property owners is a top priority for the American Property Owners Alliance. Click here to see how you can advocate for tax policies that support homeowners and housing providers.

[social_warfare]
Family and Friends Helping First-Time Homebuyers with Their Down Payment

It’s no longer a secret: the reason the housing market is booming is because of Millennials buying homes en masse. They are doing it strategically because interest rates are friendly. Many of these purchases are…

Family and Friends Helping First-Time Homebuyers with Their Down Payment

It’s no longer a secret: the reason the housing market is booming is because of Millennials buying homes en masse. They are doing it strategically because interest rates are friendly. Many of these purchases are being made by first-time homebuyers who maybe were originally thinking of buying their first home in a year or two, but who could pass up the opportunity of such affordable interest rates? That said, a lot of the money being used to make a down payment on these homes are coming from older generations – namely parents or extended family. According to a survey conducted by HarrisX for Realtor.com, 52% of Americans who bought their first home in 2020 said that family or friends helped them make their down payment. This is a figure that doubled the total from last July (26%), where, in a separate survey conducted by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), that percentage was based on home purchases by first-time homebuyers in a 12-month span from mid-2019 through mid-2020. While its easy to suggest that comparing two different surveys conducted by different companies at different time periods is like comparing apples to oranges, the polling was similar enough in design and the question was similar enough in form that to get that big of a jump is definitely noticeable and even eye-opening. The results are most likely the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has deeply impacted real estate on many levels, including the buying and selling of property. Home prices are skyrocketing – in many cases because offers are coming in above the list price. But prices are higher and pocketbooks are being squeezed because of strains directly related to the pandemic. First-time homebuyers find themselves at a time where it’s smart to buy a home – because of the historically low interest rates on mortgage lending – but also where they may not have the bankroll necessary to make the purchase, leaving them in a spot where they are looking to borrow money from family and friends. According to NAR data, the median home price in the U.S. climbed to $309,800 in December, a 12.0% increase from December 2019. That median is the direct result of something taught in economics 101: prices increase when demand is greater than supply. In December, NAR identified a record-low, 1.9-month supply of homes on the market. That figure is based on the time it would take to run out of homes for sale if no new homes or multifamily complexes were being built or developed. In December 2019, the supply of homes on the market was equal to 3 months. With the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage at 2.7% at the end of January, buyers are seeing the benefit of borrowing from loved ones to make a down payment, as a larger sum to be put down will create lower monthly mortgage costs in the long run. According to the Realtor.com survey, 44% of first-time home buyers said they borrowed money from family while an additional 8% said they borrowed from friends. This type of borrowing was likely necessary because 49% of the first-time homebuyers found a home they loved, but ended up being outbid on the home, according to the Realtor.com survey. As long as the pandemic continues to impact the economy, and home sales boom while interest rates remain so small you need a microscope to see them, you can bet that first-time homebuyers – specifically those on the younger end – are going to be hitting up the bank of mom and dad, or grandpa and grandma, or even uncle Charlie and Aunt Marge, to help make a down payment that will get them into their first home. Information from USA Today was used in this report. [social_warfare]
Biden’s housing agenda starts with fair housing initiative

With a Senate split, progress may come down to executive orders and those the administration puts in place to enforce them. One of the first actions President Biden took after being sworn in as the…

Biden’s housing agenda starts with fair housing initiative

With a Senate split, progress may come down to executive orders and those the administration puts in place to enforce them. One of the first actions President Biden took after being sworn in as the 46th President of the United States was to sign an executive order that would undo controversial policies put in place by his predecessor and continue to strengthen the effort to have fair housing in America for all. Biden’s order targeted two policies put in place by President Trump – a rule that governs how cities determine and act upon housing segregation, and a rule that relaxed standards that police discrimination when it comes to mortgage lending and rental housing. Biden called for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to review these orders and to take the steps necessary to get HUD’s policies back in line with those outlined in the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Although that Act has been in place for nearly 53 years, the homeownership rate for Blacks in America is no better in 2021 than they were when that act was created. With homeownership being one of the largest drivers to creating intergenerational wealth, many feel the federal government needs to take on a more active role - rather than leaving this to state and local governments to manage - in order for there to be a real difference. Marcia Fudge, who was expected to be approved by the U.S. Senate as the new HUD Secretary in early March, is going to be busy in her new gig. That’s because Biden’s fair housing agenda is not just about undoing a couple of Trump policies. Biden’s agenda includes eliminating red tape to make housing development easier as well as implementing new policies designed to close the racial gap in homeownership. Biden feels he can accomplish this because of key leaders he has appointed to important roles in the administration that will tackle fair housing head-on. Jenn Jones is the new chief-of-staff at HUD, after serving as the lead for the nonprofit National Community Reinvestment coalition. Prior to that, she served as a senior policy advisor to President Obama’s HUD Secretary Julian Castro where she was a guiding hand in the development of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule that was an Obama executive order. The rest of HUD’s senior staff is a who’s who of researchers who have studied ways to improve equity and fair housing issues. Atop the list is Alanna McCargo who is now the senior advisor on housing finance at HUD after serving as vice president of housing finance policy at the Urban Institute. Ironically, Sasha Samberg-Champion is the deputy general counsel for HUD’s office of general counsel. Samberg-Champion previously sued HUD in 2018 on behalf of the National Fair Housing Alliance and housing groups in Texas for a failure to enforce the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule. He told Bloomberg CityLab in 2020 that “HUD is taking fair housing out of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.” Then there’s Peggy Bailey, who will serve as the senior advisor of rental assistance at HUD who previously was the vice president for housing policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Bloomberg City Lab noted in a January 26 article that the Biden Administration will likely appoint Michael Barr to head up the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), an agency in the Treasury Department that has an impact on fair lending standards. Barr was a Treasury-Department official under President Obama and his first task will be to undo a Trump rule that all but gutted the Community Reinvestment Act requiring banks to fully serve the communities in which they are located. The Community Reinvestment Act could use a facelift though, to accommodate online-only banks and other technological changes that have made lending easier. The hiccup here with Barr as an appointment is that progressives within Biden’s own Democratic Party oppose this appointment because Barr is allegedly too chummy with former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who was deemed to be in Wall Street’s pocket. This is a concern because the OCC has built a bad reputation over the years of being in cahoots with the banks, therefore any link to banks or Wall Street, even if it’s a secondary or tertiary link, is going to be viewed negatively. Barr does have support from some progressives, most notably Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who he also considers a mentor. But, Senate Banking Committee Chair Sherrod Brown and House Committee on Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters have pushed back against his appointment. These appointments are critical if the Biden Administration really wants to push this housing agenda. With a split Senate, legislation will be tough to pass, meaning that Biden will have to rely on executive orders, such as this one, and having the right people in place to enforce his new rules. This is likely his only path to changing the equity of how the federal government responds to housing issues like fair and affordable housing. [social_warfare]
How Does the Affordable Housing Crisis Impact Our Communities? These 4 Documentaries Will Show You

You can spend hours Googling how-to articles on homeownership, but we’ve rounded up these four documentaries on affordable housing to provide you with a one-stop-shop for all relevant information about homeownership. Not only do these…

How Does the Affordable Housing Crisis Impact Our Communities? These 4 Documentaries Will Show You

You can spend hours Googling how-to articles on homeownership, but we’ve rounded up these four documentaries on affordable housing to provide you with a one-stop-shop for all relevant information about homeownership.

Not only do these documentaries highlight affordable housing across the United States, they also have a large focus on ending the housing crisis across the globe and the homelessness calamity, particularly amongst America’s youth in VICE’s documentary ‘Shelter’.

Read on below to understand the focus of each of these recommended documentaries:

Transformation of Affordable Housing in Rural Areas of the U.S.

This short documentary produced by Greystone focuses on how USDA’s Rural Development Division, and partners, have been working to conserve affordable housing for elderly and low-income residents in rural America. In the film, experts such as Robert Barolak of Greystone discuss the affordable housing preservation process. “There are still a great number of lower-income and elderly folks who live in rural America and who need affordable housing. But it’s aging. It’s deteriorating, and some of it deteriorating quite rapidly. It needs to be renovated and refreshed. It needs to be repositioned for the next 30 or 40 years,” Barolak shares. Greystone has taken that into account and made active changes both financially and in regard to redevelopment.

Greystone manages the repositioning and renovation of apartment complexes in small rural rental communities across the country, primarily in the southeastern states. As Tanya Eastwood, the president of Greystone Affordable Development, shares the company’s plans, “We came up with a creative innovative plan to preserve this much-needed housing. We basically pooled them together in a statewide portfolio type transaction and are able to have a major impact in their real estate schedules that they own.” Recently, Greystone was able to refurbish 1,362 apartments in 44 different communities across rural Georgia with $117 million in financing. In addition to USDA, Greystone actively worked with the Athens Housing Authority, Georgia Department of Community Affairs, and Fannie Mae to assemble the necessary financing.

Sold Out: Affordable Housing at Risk

This PBS documentary was produced with the MN Housing Partnership and shares numerous stories from tenants on how they pushed through the housing crisis to find affordable solutions. Ever-changing economic power and urban development have been closing in on low-income communities for ages, and in turn, negatively impacting the affordable housing market. With each passing day, low-income residents have fewer options when it comes to housing and once we see those families and residents move to more affordable areas, local businesses start to see the lack of patrons immediately and struggle to make ends meet. As shared in the documentary, “Folks at the bottom end of the income spectrum are losing out in this very competitive situation.”

One heart-wrenching example, tenants who had called their Richfield, MN apartment home for up to 15 years received 30-day notices that they had to leave, even after signing 12-month leases, once the complex was sold. The new owners of the huge apartment complex, Crossroads Apartments, immediately put in a set of policies designed to ultimately remake the tenant population, such as increasing rents 30% and stopping all involvement in any government programs.

This vicious cycle seems to be never ending, but ‘Sold Out: Affordable Housing at Risk’ shares solutions to the crisis and eviction scares. The short film also touches on communities of color, asking important questions such as “Is what’s wrong the concentration of communities of color, or is it the way in which we treat concentrations of communities of color?” As said in the documentary, “This issue of housing sits at the center of our wellbeing.”

SHELTER

VICE’s documentary ‘SHELTER’ focuses on America’s youth homelessness crisis specifically. The crew set off to New Orleans to chat with the staff and residents of America’s largest non-profit shelter – Covenant House. The perspective from the alarmingly young residents and passionate staff in the documentary shines a light on the severity of the issue and ultimately prompts directors Brent and Craig Renaud (as well as viewers) to urgently address the plight of homeless youth.

The Covenant House has been protecting at-risk youths for over 40 years and has no plans of stopping. The documentary informs viewers of the day to day struggles the staff handles to keep vulnerable members of society safe and off the streets. With a large majority of these teens being survivors of sex trafficking, physical abuse, mental health issues, addiction, and abandonment, the Covenant House isn’t just a place to lay their head, but a home. Homelessness affects over half a million people in the U.S. and the number of unhoused people increased nationally for the first time since 2010, based on data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). In Louisiana specifically, where the short film is based, at least 3,000 unhoused people were reported in 2017.

High Quality and Affordable

This documentary from Gaaleriie centers on affordable housing in Vienna, which is nearly a utopian community when it comes to social housing. Vienna currently has two systems of subsidized housing. One is social housing, owned by the city, where no new private units are built within this sector. The nonprofit sector has been greatly strengthened over the years by working with nonprofit developers such as this one. Roughly half of the population is living in this sector of public housing. Within this subsidized sector, there is a lot of experimentation allowing them to introduce new sustainable housing standards such as energy consumption and integration programs to assist immigrants in Vienna.

Another aspect of Vienna’s affordable housing, which makes them the star pupil of the world, is that every large new housing estate has to go through an in-depth competition process. A team consisting of a nonprofit developer, an architect, a landscape architect, and other experts have to present a “complete product” to the city. These extensive steps ensure that the appropriate amount of time, effort, and consideration has been put into the new development to guarantee it is a safe and beneficial home for those who are seeking affordable housing.

Each of these four documentaries highlight obstacles that the housing crisis puts on lower income populations. A lack of affordable housing doesn't only leave people unhoused, but it also has a huge impact on small businesses, schools, and the overall community. The U.S. can certainly take notes from Vienna's progressive affordable housing system, and with the right financial guidance and support, America can match up with some of Europe's public housing success.

[social_warfare]
UPDATE: Assistance Needed For Renters Across The Country

APOA advocates helped secure key victories in COVID-19 relief legislation including $25 billion in funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance program that will assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to…

UPDATE: Assistance Needed For Renters Across The Country

APOA advocates helped secure key victories in COVID-19 relief legislation including $25 billion in funding for the Emergency Rental Assistance program that will assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

With many renters accruing debt too great to be repaid and more than 40% of rental units owned by ‘mom and pop’-operated small businesses, many of which have been struggling to pay their bills and maintain their properties—timely distribution of rental assistance funds is critical to stabilize housing and keep families in their homes.

The Departments of Treasury and HUD must allocate the funds as quickly as possible and provide clear guidance to state and local governments when distributing federal rental assistance funds—as well as flexibility for landlords to obtain resident consent—to ensure that funds will be paid directly to the property owner on behalf of the resident and that the financial obligations of the property are met.  

Rental assistance is necessary to pull the country back from the brink of a housing and financial crisis.


Learn More: See the Emergency Rental Assistance program eligibility requirements and access Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding program requirements


BACKGROUND

Most recently, on January 20, the Biden Administration extended the federal ban on evictions through March 2021 with an executive action.

Previously, on December 21, 2020, Congress passed an additional round of COVID-19 relief legislation that included funding for rental assistance.

Before, on September 4, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a “temporary halt to residential evictions to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.” This eviction moratorium applies to all residential housing. Further, it applies to all renters who self-certify they meet four criteria. The criteria are:

  • Make less than $99,000 (single) or $198,000 (married); This is expected to cover more than 95% of all renters
  • Have used their best efforts to obtain rental assistance;
  • Are unable to pay full rent due to loss of household income, hours or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out of pocket medical expenses; note this does not have to be COVID-related AND
  • If evicted, would likely become homeless or need to move in to a residence that is shared by other people in close quarters

On May 15, 2020, The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act which included substantial rental assistance, however the new eviction moratorium covers a much larger population of renters, around 95%, placing the vast majority of housing providers in jeopardy.



[social_warfare]
Buttigieg On Biden Administration’s Priorities For Transportation Department

Read the original article by Alisa Chang at NPR. CHANG: OK. Let’s talk a little bit about – more about what you’ll be dealing with when you’re confirmed, if you’re confirmed as transportation secretary. Public…

Buttigieg On Biden Administration’s Priorities For Transportation Department

Read the original article by Alisa Chang at NPR.

CHANG: OK. Let's talk a little bit about - more about what you'll be dealing with when you're confirmed, if you're confirmed as transportation secretary. Public transit systems throughout the country have been struggling for years and then even more so during this pandemic because ridership has further declined in many regions. Where do you even start to try to reinvigorate these systems in a post-pandemic world?

BUTTIGIEG: Well, it starts with the president's rescue package, which identifies $20 billion to support our transit agencies that have taken such a blow. But the reality is just trying to prop them up or get back to pre-COVID levels isn't really good enough when you consider the need for us to have stronger transit systems. It's important for safety. It's important for climate. It's important for economic growth. And it's important for equity because we know that in many parts of the country, there are transit deserts, disproportionately in Black, brown and tribal communities that have cut people off from economic opportunity. But again, if we get this right, this is a great example of the kind of investment that really does pay for itself because it unlocks opportunity. It gives people alternatives for how to get around. And it's going to make our economy and our communities stronger.


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

Are You and Your Partner Ready to Buy a House Together?

Read the original article by Christy Bieber at Nasdaq.com. With mortgage rates near record lows, many Americans are shopping for a home right now — even though prices have also been driven up in many…

Are You and Your Partner Ready to Buy a House Together?

Read the original article by Christy Bieber at Nasdaq.com.

With mortgage rates near record lows, many Americans are shopping for a home right now -- even though prices have also been driven up in many parts of the country.

If you're hoping to score a mortgage at one of the lowest rates in history and you're financially ready to become a homeowner, you may be wondering if it makes sense to find a real estate agent and begin your search.

But if you're half of a couple, there's another thing you have to consider: whether you and your partner are ready to buy a house together and commit to a major joint financial obligation.


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

2021 – The Year For The Home Buyer And Seller

Read the original article by David H. Stevens at George Mason Mortgage. In my almost forty years in the real estate and mortgage finance business, there have been a variety of cycles that have impacted…

2021 – The Year For The Home Buyer And Seller

Read the original article by David H. Stevens at George Mason Mortgage.

In my almost forty years in the real estate and mortgage finance business, there have been a variety of cycles that have impacted housing. From the oil patch crisis in the eighties, the dot com bubble of 2000, to the Great Recession of 2008, and the most incredible year we just completed, homeowners, housing, and mortgage finance have seen its ups and downs.

The truth behind these market changes is that facts and data matter to markets. Housing is different from other goods and services. Yes, housing is about shelter and that makes it a national treasure that Presidents from both parties have highlighted over the many decades past, but it is far more than that. Housing is the single greatest contributor to wealth in America and when you combine that with the proper market conditions, the ability to build long-term, sustainable, intergenerational wealth can be accelerated.

The fact is, and what many don’t realize, home is where the majority of Americans have the greatest wealth...


We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.

National Association of REALTORS®

COVID-19 Assistance: National Association of REALTORS®     TweetShare [...]Read More...

National Association of REALTORS®

COVID-19 Assistance: National Association of REALTORS®  

 

Federal Student Aid

COVID-19 Assistance: Federal Student Aid     TweetShare [...]Read More...

Federal Student Aid

COVID-19 Assistance: Federal Student Aid  

 

Federal Housing Finance Agency

COVID-19 Assistance: Federal Housing Finance Agency     TweetShare [...]Read More...

Federal Housing Finance Agency

COVID-19 Assistance: Federal Housing Finance Agency  

 

Housing & Urban Development

COVID-19 Assistance: Housing & Urban Development (HUD)     TweetShare [...]Read More...

Housing & Urban Development

COVID-19 Assistance: Housing & Urban Development (HUD)  

 

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

COVID-19 Assistance: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)     TweetShare [...]Read More...

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

COVID-19 Assistance: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)  

 

What Does A Biden Presidency Mean For Your Tax Bill?

It’s taken a few days longer than expected, but early this morning, every major news network called the 2020 election in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden, who will become the 46th President of…

What Does A Biden Presidency Mean For Your Tax Bill?

It’s taken a few days longer than expected, but early this morning, every major news network called the 2020 election in favor of former Vice President Joe Biden, who will become the 46th President of the United States. This news appears to have not been particularly well received by the 45th President, the incumbent Donald Trump, who has shown no signs that he’ll concede any time soon, choosing instead to launch allegations of voter fraud and promise legal action.

Eventually, this whole thing will get sorted out. And once the legal process is complete, if it does indeed reveal that Biden is next in line, many Americans will be asking the same question: are my taxes going to change?

It’s a valid question, because Biden has not hidden the fact that he intends to raise taxes by nearly $3.5 trillion over the next ten years on corporations and individuals earning more than $400,000 annually. As a result, high earners have a right to be nervous about a Biden presidency. At the same time, Biden has proposed a package of incentives aimed at cutting taxes for lower-income taxpayers, including refundable credits for everything from paying childcare costs to buying a home. Thus, for some, news of a Biden victory could mean more money in their pockets come tax time.

Stay-At-Home Orders Drive Broadband Expansion

Identified as a federal policy priority in 2009, broadband, or high-speed internet, remains one of the top infrastructure issues facing the country. However, as families continue to work and learn from home, it’s more essential…

Stay-At-Home Orders Drive Broadband Expansion

Identified as a federal policy priority in 2009, broadband, or high-speed internet, remains one of the top infrastructure issues facing the country. However, as families continue to work and learn from home, it’s more essential than ever to invest in smart broadband policy for all communities.  Luckily, government programs and relief packages are providing a new path for states to improve wireless in rural areas where broadband has not historically been available.

The $150 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, approved on March 27, 2020, is just one example. $2 billion of the CARES was earmarked to provide support for the transition to fully remote life, including distance learning, telehealth, and broadband expansion. Over 25 states took advantage - including:  Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Mayland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

State, local, and tribal governments were eligible to apply for tech/broadband-specific grants. However, there are some key restrictions for this funding - which can only be used:

  • Programs that are directly connected to COVID-19
  • Have no previous budget allocated/ approved prior March 27.
  • On Dec. 30, 2020, unused funds will revert to the federal government.

Other government programs have ramped up pre-established programs to provide needed relief during the pandemic. On Thursday, October 29th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the first phase of its new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, which will target over six million homes and businesses in unserved census blocks. The auction will provide internet companies with $20 billion in subsidies over the next 10 years and hopes to connect roughly 10 million Americans who don’t have any internet access or are on slow speeds.

The Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also launched a smaller rural broadband pilot. In September and October, the agency announced over $516 million in ReConnect rural broadband grants and loans, drawing from a $550 million pot that Congress authorized last December.

NAR Launches New “Fairness is Worth Fighting For” Campaign

A sad truth? Too many people are denied access to the future that properties can make possible. That’s the driver behind the National Association of REALTORS’ (NAR) newly launched “Fairness is Worth Fighting For” consumer…

NAR Launches New “Fairness is Worth Fighting For” Campaign

A sad truth? Too many people are denied access to the future that properties can make possible. That’s the driver behind the National Association of REALTORS’ (NAR) newly launched “Fairness is Worth Fighting For” consumer advertising campaign - aimed to make fair housing a reality for all. 

NAR’s Commitment to Change 

NAR has a deeply rooted commitment to establish codes that set a higher standard for fairness in housing than any other federal law. Since 1997 NAR has funded “That’s Who We R,” a 22 year-long campaign designed to raise awareness and drive government legislation modifications. 

The fair housing campaign is packed with persuasive video, digital, and social media materials that are designed for the public to spread awareness and bring the “fight for fair” into their own lives. 

“Together we’ll hold each other accountable until the fight for fair is won. Because this ad won’t end discrimination in real estate. People will.”

At the beginning of the year, NAR released a Fair Housing Action Plan designed to ensure that all 1.4 million REALTORS® are protecting housing rights in their own neighborhoods. The Action Plan commits NAR to:

  • Work closely with State Association Executives to ensure that state licensing laws include effective fair-housing training requirements and hold real estate agents accountable to their fair housing obligations;
  • Launch a Public-Service Announcement Campaign that reaffirm NAR’s commitment to fair housing, and how consumers can report problems;
  • Integrate fair housing into all REALTOR® conferences and engagements (to include a fair housing  theme throughout the May Midyear Meeting;
  • Explore the creation of a voluntary self-testing program, in partnership with a fair housing organization, as a resource for brokers and others who want confidential reports on agent practices so they can address problems;
  • Create more robust fair housing education, including unconscious-bias training, and education on how the actions of REALTORS® shape communities.
  • Conduct a national study to determine what factors motivate discrimination in sales market
  • Profile leaders who exemplify the best fair housing practices and workplace diversity
  • Develop materials to help REALTORS® provide consumers with information on schools that avoids fair housing pitfalls.

These Fair Housing efforts demonstrate the value and service that REALTORS® bring to their clients and communities in regards to homeownership. 

If you experience or witness discrimination in real estate, we urge you to report it.

Visit Everything you need to know to file a housing discrimination complaint with the HUD if you have any questions. 

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

Read the original article by John Egan and Amy Danise on Forbes Flooding ranks as the costliest, most common natural disaster in the U.S. Yet standard homeowners and renters insurance don’t cover flood damage, and most…

How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?

Read the original article by John Egan and Amy Danise on Forbes

Flooding ranks as the costliest, most common natural disaster in the U.S. Yet standard homeowners and renters insurance don’t cover flood damage, and most commercial property insurance policies also exclude floods.

So how do you protect your property and belongings from the financial pit of flooding? You can purchase a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or from a private insurer.

How to Get NFIP Flood Insurance

The NFIP, managed by FEMA, offers federally backed flood insurance sold through more than 60 insurance companies and through an initiative called NFIP Direct.

NFIP policies are available in more than 22,000 communities that participate in the program. The program is the primary provider of residential flood insurance in the U.S. It covers more than 5 million homes and businesses, mainly in flood-prone coastal regions...

Homeowner Insurance Rates Are Rising

Homeowners’ insurance rates are steadily rising across the country. A surge of natural disasters in 2019 and 2020 have resulted in huge insurance payouts, and rate hikes soon followed. The NOAA National Centers for Environmental…

Homeowner Insurance Rates Are Rising

Homeowners’ insurance rates are steadily rising across the country. A surge of natural disasters in 2019 and 2020 have resulted in huge insurance payouts, and rate hikes soon followed. The NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) shows that “in 2020 alone, the U.S. experienced 22 billion-dollar disasters.” As a result, many homeowners can expect to pay more for insurance. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners notes “home insurance rates are up almost 47 percent in the last 10 years.”
Some States Are Seeing Faster Rate Increases Than Others
The article Homeowners Insurance Rates Are Rising - Particularly in These States notes that figures from Lending Tree’s data site Value Penguin, show these 10 states have the fastest rising home insurance rates.
1. California
  • Average premium: $1,826
  • Increase over 2019: 3%
2. Nebraska
  • Average premium: $1,749
  • Increase over 2019: 6%
3. Illinois
  • Average premium: $1,405
  • Increase over 2019: 4%
4. South Dakota
  • Average premium: $2,364
  • Increase over 2019: 3%
5. Utah
  • Average premium: $711
  • Increase over 2019: 2%
6. Rhode Island
  • Average premium: $1,414
  • Increase over 2019: 1%
7. Georgia
  • Average premium: $1,713
  • Increase over 2019: 0%
8. Virginia
  • Average premium: $1,341
  • Increase over 2019:8%
9. Idaho
  • Average premium: $940
  • Increase over 2019: 5%
10. New Mexico
  • Average premium: $1,284
  • Increase over 2019: 3.5%
5 Ways to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Costs
Even if you don’t live in one of the 10 states listed as having the fastest rising home insurance rates, you may still see an increase in cost. However, there are steps you can take to lower your homeowners insurance costs.
  1. Shop Around: It can be time-consuming to investigate various insurers, but the money you can save might be worth it. Start by checking with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Here you can find information to help you choose an insurer in your state. You can also check with your state insurance department for rate comparisons. While it’s advisable to get multiple quotes to compare prices, make sure the providers are highly rated for serving customers filing claims.
  2. Raise Your Deductible: A deductible is the sum of money you pay toward a loss before your insurance begins payment on a claim. If you have a higher deductible, you can save money on your premiums. The Insurance Information Institute notes, “Most insurance companies recommend a deductible of at least $500. If you can afford to raise your deductible to $1,000, you may save as much as 25 percent.” Remember, you may have a separate deductible for specific disaster-related damage like windstorms, earthquakes, and hail.
  3. Combine Your Home and Auto Policies: Often, if you bundle your insurance policies (home and auto) with one company you can save 25 percent in premiums. It is still smart to make sure your total price is lower with the bundled policies than if you were to buy two policies from two different companies.
  4. Make Disaster Resistant Home Improvements: You may be able to save on premiums if you make disaster resistant home improvements. You should check with your insurance agent to find out which upgrades, if any, can save you money. Each disaster comes with its own set of appropriate upgrades. Homeowners in wildfire-prone areas like California and Arizona will benefit from different upgrades than homeowners living in hurricane-prone areas like North Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida.
  5. Improve Your Credit Score: Having a good credit score can reduce your insurance costs. To make sure your credit history is solid you should pay your bills on time, keep your credit balances as low as possible, and limit your open credit accounts.
Insurance rates can be expected to rise annually. However, steeper than typical increases may have homeowners scrambling to find ways to cut costs. With a little time and attention to your property and your policy, you may be able to find ways to lower your homeowners insurance costs.
We believe, along with millions of Americans, that the dream of ownership is a dream that’s worth protecting. If you agree, we encourage you to add your name to our petition.
Teleworking in a parking lot. School on a flash drive. The coronavirus prompts new urgency for rural Internet access.

Read the original article by Meagan Flynn in The Washington Post. Jason Onorati moved to rural Powhatan, Va., 23 years ago, when he didn’t need the Internet to raise a family. He lives with his young…

Teleworking in a parking lot. School on a flash drive. The coronavirus prompts new urgency for rural Internet access.

Read the original article by Meagan Flynn in The Washington Post.

Jason Onorati moved to rural Powhatan, Va., 23 years ago, when he didn’t need the Internet to raise a family.

He lives with his young son and his 2-year-old granddaughter on a gravel dead-end road on the edge of town, one of many pockets of rural America that lack reliable WiFi. Here, there is no access to video calls, no Netflix or online billing, except via cellphone. Teleworking, online doctor’s appointments and remote school are nearly impossible.

“I’m three-tenths of a mile from the road, which is why I can’t get Comcast,” Onorati said. “They want to charge by the foot. We’re talking thousands of dollars.”

The coronavirus pandemic has drawn new attention to this long-standing problem, with local and federal lawmakers and candidates in Virginia demanding funding and legal changes to bring broadband to an estimated half-million state residents.AD

In a debate last month, Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) compared the need for nationwide broadband deployment to rural electrification in the 1930s. His Republican opponent, Daniel Gade, compared it to the construction of the country’s interstate highway network in the 1950s...

It’s Time To Get Smart About Infrastructure

Read the original article by Chris Turlica by Forbes. It’s a running joke in Beltway circles that every week is Infrastructure Week, but while the Senate remains deadlocked over the next round of coronavirus stimulus spending, analysts…

It’s Time To Get Smart About Infrastructure

Read the original article by Chris Turlica by Forbes.

It’s a running joke in Beltway circles that every week is Infrastructure Week, but while the Senate remains deadlocked over the next round of coronavirus stimulus spending, analysts believe that major infrastructure investments might be the key to putting the global economy back on track. Both U.S. presidential candidates have pledged to spend heavily on infrastructure, and industry groups are also calling for big investments in bridges, highways and other major infrastructure projects to spur a U.S. economic revival.

Such spending is long overdue. A third of Americans say roads in their neighborhoods badly need repairs, and half of rural roads are rated poor to fair. Put all 54,000 of our nation’s structurally deficient bridges end to end, and they’ll stretch from Manhattan to Miami Beach. At least 2,170 of our 15,500 high-hazard dams are dangerously deficient. And with 240,000 water-main breaks a year, we annually pour 2 trillion gallons of drinking water straight down the drain. 

Frankly, the state of America’s infrastructure is shocking. But therein lies the rub: With so much of our infrastructure in decay, how can we track all the work that needs to be done? At current rates of repair, it would take decades to patch up those deficient bridges — so where should we start, and which bridges should we repair first? Which structures merely need a coat of paint, and which ones need to be completely rebuilt? With vast sums at stake, how will we decide how the money gets spent?

To find the answer, look at the five-mile Mackinac suspension bridge between Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas. Since 2016, researchers have installed scores of tiny wireless sensors on “Big Mac.” This year, they will fit thousands more. Powered by the vibrations of passing traffic, the sensors constantly gather information about traffic patterns, wind levels and the condition of the bridge itself, giving inspectors a torrent of invaluable data about the bridge’s safety and pinpointing exactly where and when repairs are needed...

The Pandemic Threatens The Already Vulnerable Affordable Housing Crisis

Read the original article by Jennifer Castenson on Forbes The perfect storm of affordable housing crisis is brewing right now: a threat made up of the already low supply that is hitting the increasing post-pandemic…

The Pandemic Threatens The Already Vulnerable Affordable Housing Crisis

Read the original article by Jennifer Castenson on Forbes

The perfect storm of affordable housing crisis is brewing right now: a threat made up of the already low supply that is hitting the increasing post-pandemic demand head on.  

Before the pandemic, supply was an issue. The National Low Income Housing Coalition published the GAP report in late 2019 that shows a shortage of seven million affordable homes for low-income households at or below the poverty guidelines, or 30% of the area median income.  

So, now, those already taxed supply issues are being further pressured by the pandemic.

Jay Parsons, vice president of multifamily optimization and deputy chief economist at RealPage RP -2.6%, a property management software company, forecasts that the total apartment supply will remain high through 2021 due to the pipeline of projects that were approved and under way prior to COVID. But, he cautions that the pipeline is thinning out and there will likely be a large drop off of completions by 2022...

Average 30-year mortgage rate for purchase loans falls to another all-time low

30-year fixed loan now 5 basis points below the original record set in September Read the original article by Alex Roha on HousingWire. The average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan fell to…

Average 30-year mortgage rate for purchase loans falls to another all-time low

30-year fixed loan now 5 basis points below the original record set in September

Read the original article by Alex Roha on HousingWire.

The average U.S. mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed loan fell to 2.81% this week, the lowest in Freddie Mac’s survey history, the mortgage giant said in a report on Thursday. The rate fell six basis points from the week prior and is now five basis points lower than the original all-time low set in mid-September.

The average fixed rate for a 15-year mortgage was 2.35%, falling from last week’s 2.37% — matching the record set three weeks ago...

Housing Affordability Weakens in August 2020 as Home Prices Rose Faster than Median Family Incomes

Read the original article by Michael Hyman from NAR At the national level, housing affordability declined in August 2020 compared to a year ago and fell compared to July, according to NAR’s Housing Affordability Index.…

Housing Affordability Weakens in August 2020 as Home Prices Rose Faster than Median Family Incomes

Read the original article by Michael Hyman from NAR

At the national level, housing affordability declined in August 2020 compared to a year ago and fell compared to July, according to NAR’s Housing Affordability Index. Affordability dipped in August compared to August as the median family income rose by 2.2% while the median home prices rose by 11.7%. The effective 30-year fixed mortgage rate1 fell to 3.00% this August from 3.08% in July. Mortgage rates are at all-time lows compared to a year ago at 3.66%.

Line graph: Housing Affordability Index, August 2019 to August 2020

As of August 2020, the national and regional indices were all above 100, meaning that a family with the median income had more than the income required to afford a median-priced home. The income required to afford a mortgage, or the qualifying income, is the income needed so that mortgage payments make up no more than 25% of family income. The most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 197.3 (median family income of $79,570 which is almost more than twice the qualifying income of $40,320). The least affordable region remained the West, where the index was 115.5(median family income of $86,744 and the qualifying income of $75,072). For comparison, the index was 167.1 in the South (median family income of $74,666 and the qualifying income of $44,688) and 161.7 in the Northeast (median family income of $92,605 with a qualifying income of $57,264).

Bar chart: Median Family Income and Qualifying Income by Region

While homes are typically affordable, housing affordability2 declined from a year ago in all regions, except in the Midwest where there was no change. The Northeast HAI had a modest decline of 0.1% followed by the South HAI with a dip of 0.8%. The West HAI had the biggest drop of 1.0%.

Affordability is down in all of the four regions from last month. The South HAI had a decline of 1.2% followed by the West HAI with a dip of 1.3%. The Midwest HAI had a decline of 1.7% followed by the Northeast HAI with the biggest drop of 5.8%.

Nationally, mortgage rates were down 66 basis points from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points). The median sales price for a single-family home sold in August in the US was $315,000 up 11.7% from a year ago, while median family incomes rose 2.2 % in 2020 from one year ago.

Bar chart: August Housing Affordability, 2020 and 2019

Even with lower mortgage rates compared to one year ago, the payment as a percentage of income rose modestly to 15.7% this August from 15.6% from a year ago. Regionally, the West has the highest mortgage payment to income share at 21.6% of income. The Northeast had the second highest share at 15.5% followed by the South with their share at 15.0%. The Midwest had the lowest mortgage payment as a percentage of income at 12.7%. Mortgage payments are not burdensome if they are no more than 25% of income.3

Bar chart: US and Regional Mortgage Payment as a Percent of Income, 2020 and 2019

This week the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that for the week ending October 2, mortgage applications increased 4.6 from the week prior. Inventory levels are extremely low so more housing supply is needed to help tame price growth. New home sales are on the rise. Consumers can still take advantage of borrowing while rates are historically low.

What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release.

The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20% down payment and a 25% qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation.


1 Starting in May 2019, FHFA discontinued the release of several mortgage rates and only published an adjustable-rate mortgage called PMMS+ based on Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey. With these changes, NAR discontinued the release of the HAI Composite Index (based on 30-year fixed-rate and ARM) and starting in May 2019 only releases the HAI based on a 30-year mortgage. NAR calculates the 30-year effective fixed rate based on Freddie Mac's 30-year fixed mortgage contract rate, 30-year fixed mortgage points and fees, and a median loan value based on the NAR median price and a 20% down payment.

2 A Home Affordability Index (HAI) value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index of 120 signifies that a family earning the median income has 20 percent more than the level of income needed pay the mortgage on a median-priced home, assuming a 20% down payment so that the monthly payment and interest will not exceed 25% of this level of income (qualifying income).

3 Total housing costs that include mortgage payment, property taxes, maintenance, insurance, utilities are not considered burdensome if they account for no more than 30% of income.

How Biden’s $15,000 tax credit plan for first-time homebuyers could be a game-changer

Read the original article by Zach Wichter on Bankrate With less than a month until Election Day — and voting already underway in many states — housing hasn’t been a front-burner issue so far. But one candidate’s…

How Biden’s $15,000 tax credit plan for first-time homebuyers could be a game-changer

Read the original article by Zach Wichter on Bankrate

With less than a month until Election Day — and voting already underway in many states — housing hasn’t been a front-burner issue so far. But one candidate’s plan to encourage homeownership with tax credits could make a big difference in some parts of the country.

As part of his campaign platform, former Vice President Joe Biden said he’d put forward legislation that would provide $15,000 in tax credits to first-time homebuyers. That could be a game-changer in some markets, especially in the South and Midwest where property values are generally lower than in coastal cities. It could mean that some people may be able to afford to buy a house years before they thought they would.

Bankrate spoke to Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors about Biden’s proposal. Yun said President Trump has not made a similar pitch, but emphasized that NAR does not favor any political party or candidate...

Fair Housing Act 101

What is Fair Housing Act and who does it cover? TweetShare [...]Read More...

Fair Housing Act 101

What is Fair Housing Act and who does it cover?

Everything you need to know to file a housing discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

If you believe you have experienced discrimination in renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, or other housing-related activities because of your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, you may…

Everything you need to know to file a housing discrimination complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

If you believe you have experienced discrimination in renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, or other housing-related activities because of your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability, you may file a complaint with HUD. HUD will investigate your complaint for free.

Throughout the investigation, HUD will try to help both sides resolve the complaint. If no agreement is reached, and HUD’s investigation leads to a finding that discrimination has likely occurred, it may bring a legal action on your behalf. HUD will seek to address the harm caused by the discrimination, and to prevent future discrimination, by seeking compensation, changes to policies and procedures, and/or training.

Fair housing complaints can be filed against:

  • Property owners, property managers, developers, real estate agents, mortgage lenders, homeowners associations, insurance providers, and others who affect housing opportunities

What to know before filing a complaint?

  • Who can file?
    • Anyone who has been or will be harmed by a discriminatory housing practice may file a complaint.
  • How much does it cost to file a complaint?
    • Filing a complaint through HUD is completely free - both for individuals and community groups
  • Is there a time limit for filing?
    • You must file your complaint within one year of the last date of the alleged violation.
  • Can you get in trouble for filing a complaint?
    • Retaliation is illegal. You cannot be punished for filing a complaint.
  • Are there resources to help you file?
    • HUD provides a toll-free teletypewriter (TTY) line: 1-800-877-8339. You can also ask for other disability-related assistance when you contact HUD. HUD will accept complaints made in any language, and will provide interpreters upon request.

Be prepared to provide:

  • Your name & address
  • The name and address of the person(s) or organization your complaint is against;
  • The address or other identification of the housing or program involved;
  • A short description of the event(s) that cause you to believe your rights were violated; and
  • The date(s) of the alleged violation.

4 Ways to submit a complaint:

  1. Online Portal
    • You can fill out a form directly on HUD’s website (English or Spanish)
  2. Email
  3. Phone
  4. Mail
    • If utilizing email, phone, or mail, HUD recommends you direct the complaint to one of HUD’s regional offices utilizing this form.
How HUD’S Counseling Services Can Help Homeowners and Home Buyers

BY TANYA SVOBODAJ Buying and owning a home is a daunting prospect in the best of times – and the uncertain climate of the economy due to COVID-19 can make it feel downright unachievable. The…

How HUD’S Counseling Services Can Help Homeowners and Home Buyers

BY TANYA SVOBODAJ

Buying and owning a home is a daunting prospect in the best of times – and the uncertain climate of the economy due to COVID-19 can make it feel downright unachievable. The good news is that there are professionals trained to help you navigate your home related worries. Acting Federal Housing Commissioner Len Wolfson said in a statement, to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD),  “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, HUD-approved counselors are there to assist millions of homeowners and renters nationwide and help them keep a roof over their heads.”

Homeowners and potential homebuyers looking for guidance amidst the uncertainty can benefit from the $40 million in housing counseling grants awarded by HUD on June 16th. HUD notes these grants, “Will directly support the housing counseling services provided by the 204 HUD-approved local housing counseling agencies, national and regional organizations and housing finance agencies (SHFAs).”WHY WORK WITH A HUD COUNSELOR?

A housing counselor is an individual certified through The HUD Housing Counseling Certification Examination who can help potential homebuyers understand the buying process, help current homeowners understand how to avoid foreclosure, and help seniors and individuals with disabilities make sound decisions about their monthly payments, among other things.

According to HUD, “In Fiscal Year 2019, HUD-approved housing counseling agencies served 1,015,911 households. Approximately 52 percent of those households were minorities, including 38 percent African American and 10 percent identified as multiple races. Additionally, 19 percent of households served were Hispanic.”

The latest grants were given preferentially to local counseling agencies serving individuals in designated Opportunity Zones, or “economically distressed communities.”WHAT COUNSELING SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE?

While there are a variety of services offered through HUD’s Housing Counseling Program, not all of them are free. Housing counseling agencies who participate in HUD’s Housing Counseling Program are not permitted to charge a fee for:

  • Foreclosure prevention: There are a variety of programs administered through HUD for homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure or struggling with their mortgage payments. A complete list of these programs can be found on HUD’s website.
  • Homeless counseling: HUD funds services to help individuals transition out of homelessness.

Housing counseling agencies are permitted to charge reasonable fees for other services such as:

  • Pre-purchase education: HUD’s counseling services can help potential homebuyers understand how much they can afford, know their rights, shop for a loan, find homebuying programs, and walk them through the entire homebuying process from making a wish list to signing the closing papers.
  • Reverse mortgage counseling: This service focuses on educating seniors about the viability of a reverse mortgage.
  • Non-delinquency post-purchase counseling services
  • Education to avoid mortgage scams

It’s important to make sure you’re using a HUD-approved agency to access these services. The National Association of REALTORS’® Protect Your Investment: A Guide For At Risk Homeowners urges people to: “Watch out for questionable companies who advertise that, for a minimal fee, they will assist homeowners by hiring a lawyer to defend the foreclosure in court or negotiate lender assistance on the borrowers’ behalf. You should contact a HUD-approved counseling organization before you pay or sign anything.”

If you demonstrate that you can’t afford the fees, the agency is required to waive the fee. HUD also requires all housing counseling agencies to provide an upfront explanation of their fee structure and the fee must be proportional to the service provided. If you feel a housing agency is not complying with these regulations you can contact HUD’s Office of Housing and Counseling.HOW CAN I ACCESS HUD’S COUNSELING SERVICES?

After gathering your basic financial and loan information – including mortgage statements, other monthly debt payments, and income details – you can find a HUD-approved agency in a variety of ways.

  • Online: Using HUD’s approved housing counseling agencies search tool you can find an agency by state. You can narrow your search by searching specifically for a foreclosure avoidance counselor or a reverse mortgage counselor.
  • By phone: You can access foreclosure advice from housing experts any time of day by calling (888) 955-HOPE (4673).
  • Through the app: The free app, available for iPhone or iPad, offers contact information for approved agencies sorted by location and language.

HUD’s counseling services are a great resource for homeowners and homebuyers who are looking to educate themselves and make responsible choices in their pursuit of homeownership.

ASCE Infrastructure Report Card

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) puts together a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s 16 major infrastructure categories in an Infrastructure Report Card. Using a simple A to F school report card…

ASCE Infrastructure Report Card

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) puts together a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s 16 major infrastructure categories in an Infrastructure Report Card. Using a simple A to F school report card format, the Report Card examines current infrastructure conditions and needs, assigning grades and making recommendations to raise them at both the National and State level.

The 16 categories include:

  • Aviation
  • Bridges
  • Dams
  • Drinking Water
  • Energy
  • Hazardous Waste
  • Inland Waterways
  • Levees
  • Ports
  • Public Parks
  • Rail
  • Roads
  • Schools
  • Solid Waste
  • Transit
  • Waste Water

The most recent report card was released in 2017. You can see how your state ranked here.

How High Are Property Taxes in Your State?

Read the original article by Janelle Cammenga on TaxFoundation.org Today’s map takes another look at property taxes, this time focusing on states’ effective tax rates on owner-occupied housing. This is the average amount of residential property…

How High Are Property Taxes in Your State?

Read the original article by Janelle Cammenga on TaxFoundation.org

Today’s map takes another look at property taxes, this time focusing on states’ effective tax rates on owner-occupied housing. This is the average amount of residential property taxes actually paid, expressed as a percentage of home value.

Because property taxes are tied to housing values, it makes sense that the actual dollar amounts of property taxes tend to be higher in places with higher housing prices. This map takes housing value into account in order to give a broader perspective for property tax comparison.

States tax real property in a variety of ways: some impose a rate or a millage—the amount of tax per thousand dollars of value—on the fair market value of the property, while others impose it on some percentage (the assessment ratio) of the market value. While values are often determined by comparable sales, jurisdictions also vary in how they calculate assessed values...

REDLINING IMPACT REARS ITS UGLY HEAD AGAIN THANKS TO COVID-19

Low-income communities hit hardest by both virus and economic struggles BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the American way of life as we knew it and has negatively impacted millions. But no one…

REDLINING IMPACT REARS ITS UGLY HEAD AGAIN THANKS TO COVID-19

Low-income communities hit hardest by both virus and economic struggles

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the American way of life as we knew it and has negatively impacted millions.

But no one group has felt a greater negative impact from the coronavirus than Black Americans.

Since the pandemic first forced the country to shut down last March, Black Americans have faced job loss, wage reduction, small business closures and community infections at a greater rate than any other race or ethnicity.

This has had a trickle-down effect on housing, as Black property owners and Black renters have struggled to make the financial payments necessary to keep roofs over their heads.

The struggle is real for Black developers as well, who after years of building their companies from the ground up on the shoulders of the need for affordable housing, are likely going to find themselves either shutting down operations or, in a best-case-scenario, starting all over again.

According to an article published by Bisnow, although 92.2 percent of market-rate apartment renters paid rent in June, nearly 25 percent of rent-stabilized units in New York did not.

This is an indicator that the nearly eight percent of renters in this country that aren’t able to afford their rent now because of the pandemic, are likely concentrated in specific areas of the country. And likelier still, into specific neighborhoods, or sections of major markets.

This is the result of ages old discrimination that the government tried to curb more than 50 years ago but is still impacting Black Americans today.

Redlining, which was a post-World-War II government mapping practice that basically segregated communities and allowed banks to discriminate against residents of predominantly Black neighborhoods when it came time to approve loans, was outlawed with the birth of the Fair Housing Act, signed into law in 1968.

However, while redlining doesn’t exist today, the effects of its impact on society more than a half century ago can still be felt, much like the aftershock of an earthquake.

Developers of color told Bisnow they still have hurdles to traverse today when getting loans to fund their projects. This often gets lost in the shuffle because there is a racial disparity when it comes to developers.

More than 13 percent of the country identifies as Black, only 1.3 percent of senior executives in commercial real estate are Black men and less than one percent are black women, according to a 2016 study from Florida A&M University.

Many Black developers have been able to build their business by either purchasing or building affordable housing. The draw toward affordable housing for Black developers is the result of the gap in wealth and equity that exists in America between whites and Blacks.

According to a report from the Brookings Institution in February, the average net worth of a white family is 10 times that of a Black family.

This disparity is largely the result of the housing policies that existed during pre- and post-World War II America.

Redlining, the practice of rating neighborhoods from most desirable to least desirable, ended up segregating Americans predominantly by race.

It became nearly impossible for people to get loans for the less desirable neighborhoods, and Black Americans were especially discriminated against, and couldn’t even become property owners in their own, segregated neighborhoods.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 banned redlining, but the long-lasting impact of it is still felt more than 70 years later.

The homeownership gap in the United States between whites and Blacks is worse in 2020 than it was in 1968.

Add in the impact of COVID-19, and Black Americans are bearing the brunt of the damage economic damage being caused by the pandemic.

Not only were Black Americans more likely to be infected by the coronavirus and die from it, especially in major metropolitan areas where people live in much closer proximity to one another than in suburbs or even rural communities, but the neighborhoods that were hit hardest economically by the shutdown that occurred as the country tried to flatten the curve were in lower-income Black communities.

ACCORDING TO A REPORT FROM THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION IN FEBRUARY, THE AVERAGE NET WORTH OF A WHITE FAMILY IS 10 TIMES THAT OF A BLACK FAMILY.

According to the Urban Institute, layoffs and furloughs from companies during the shutdown, adversely affected Black (and Latinx) workers, leading to more housing instability because these workers were more likely to be living paycheck-to-paycheck before the pandemic gripped the country.

In a city like New York, where whites are actually a minority, making up only 42.7 percent of the population, all of the city’s major developers and property owners are companies run by whites.

“I definitely think that COVID has shone a light on the lack of Black property ownership in the Black community,” Harlem-based Lemor Realty Corp. President Kenneth Morrison told Bisnow. “I live in the community my buildings are in, so when I walk the streets, I am walking by my property.

“There’s a difference when you don’t have that. It shows.”

Some developers are pushing for public funding that would help Black developers climb out of any financial hardships that are the result of the pandemic, but there is also hope brewing that the racial awakening America is currently experiencing may shed light on the inequalities in real estate – especially when it comes to developing commercial properties, and will effectuate needed change.

“I think folks are now recognizing what Black Americans have been going through,” Morrison said. “It’s not just prejudices at work, it is a system, and it is all coming to light. We’re seeing the economic conversations happen that should be happening.”

Homeowners Getting Additional Help From FHA Because of COVID-19

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently announced measures to help some homeowners overcome financial barriers that were brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. These home retention measures, which are immediately effective, will…

Homeowners Getting Additional Help From FHA Because of COVID-19

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) recently announced measures to help some homeowners overcome financial barriers that were brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

These home retention measures, which are immediately effective, will assist homeowners with FHA-insured single-family mortgages and help them to get current on their mortgage at the end of the COVID-19 forbearance period – assuming they were current on their mortgage as of March 1, 2020 – or were less than 30 days past due.

“Our goal throughout this crisis has been to prevent American homeowners from losing their homes through no fault of their own,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a press release. “Providing more solutions now to save homes in the future is part of the Administration’s unprecedented response to the crisis and will contribute to the larger economic recovery already underway.”

Mortgage servicers are now able to use additional loss mitigation tools known as a “waterfall” to assess a homeowner’s eligibility for other retention options if they don’t qualify for FHA’s COVID-19 National Emergency Standalone Partial Claim.

That claim takes all past due amounts and puts them into a separate junior lien on the property, maxing out at 30 percent of the mortgage’s unpaid principal balance. This lien is only repayable at the end of the mortgage, which in most cases occurs during a refinancing of the mortgage, or when a home is sold.

The mortgage servicers are required to assess homeowners using this waterfall either before or at the end of their forbearance period.

For those not qualifying for the Standalone Partial Claim, homeowners may still qualify for the following:

  • COVID-19 Owner-Occupant Loan Modification – this modifies the rate and the term of the existing mortgage, giving homeowners more time and potentially a more affordable rate to pay their mortgage.
  • COVID-19 Combination Partial Claim and Loan Modification – This allows for a partial claim of up to 30 percent of the unpaid principal. Any additional money owed can be handled via the above listed mortgage modification.
  • COVID-19 FHA HAMP Combination Loan Modification and Partial Claim – this is for all homeowners who don’t qualify for any of the previous measures. It reduces the amount of documentation needed to obtain the claim.

“This comprehensive set of measures will help virtually every homeowner who has requested COVID-19 forbearance,” acting Federal Housing Commissioner Len Wolfson said in a statement. “It also provides servicers with the tailored and streamlined capabilities they need to provide assistance to homeowners as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”

The FHA is also helping homeowners who don’t occupy an FHA-insured single-family property.

For those folks, they created the COVID-19 Non-Occupant Loan Modification. This allows non-occupant borrowers who have received COVID-19 forbearance to obtain a modification to their mortgage rate and term.

None of these retention measures will require a homeowner to make a lump-sum payment at the end of the forbearance period, nor are servicers allowed to charge fees or penalties for missed mortgage payments during the borrower’s forbearance period.

New Model: Nearly Six Million More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO July 2020 Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise…

New Model: Nearly Six Million More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

July 2020

Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise of water in a certain area, as well as changes in the topography of land over time from natural or man-made changes, makes identifying the risk a constant struggle.

That unenviable task falls under the purview of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) which makes the best of limited resources to produce the highest quality maps to support community safety regulations for as much of the country as possible. Nevertheless, a recent analysis has found that by not including all sources of flooding (e.g., heavy rainfall) and being updated frequently,  the federal flood maps have underestimated the flood risk to almost six million homes or structures in the United States.

The analysis was conducted by the First Street Foundation, a non-profit that created a consortium of scientists, researchers and engineers from Rutgers University, the University of California at Berkley and George Mason University, as well as researchers from the Rhodium Group and flood analysts from Fathom. They took on the ambitious task of extending FEMA maps to every home in America except for Alaska and Hawaii.

“SIGNIFICANT GAPS EXIST IN CALIFORNIA, PENNSYLVANIA, TEXAS, NEW YORK, AND TENNESSEE, MOSTLY DRIVEN BY AREAS THAT YOU WOULDN’T THINK OF AS HIGH FLOOD-RISK LOCATIONS, LIKE CHATTANOOGA OR PHILADELPHIA.”

While FEMA maps are generally very expensive, labor intensive and time consuming, First Street was able to leverage advances in catastrophe modeling and remote sensing technologies – like LiDAR from airplanes – in order to overcome the mapping challenges and generate a nationwide model that measured flood assessment to high degree of accuracy and precision.

It was major step forward in educating the nation’s property owners about flood risk and protecting the U.S. taxpayer in the process.

The group’s modeling is “exactly what we need to be doing,” Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT who serves on First Street’s advisory board, told USA Today. “Until recently we didn’t have people putting all these little pieces together. We had really good people working on that little piece of the problem and good people working on another little corner.”

The new model identified roughly 14.6 million American homes – or about 1 of every 10 homes in the country – have an annual risk of flooding of at least one percent, which is the threshold the federal government uses to assess which homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance. This is contrary to FEMA’s list, which is about 40% lower, at 8.7 million properties in the floodplain.

First Street’s model didn’t just identify blind spots in the FEMA maps, but also made 30-year projections. According to their data, an additional 1.6 million properties will reach that one percent risk plateau by 2050.

While one percent might not seem high – it’s about the same risk you take driving 70 MPH on the highway – if you extrapolate that over the length of a 30-year mortgage on a property, the odds of a home flooding before a mortgage is paid off is about 1-in-4, or 26 percent.

Many of the largest discrepancies between FEMA and First Street maps were in states and cities not typically considered at high-risk for flooding.

Significant gaps exist in California, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and Tennessee, mostly driven by areas that you wouldn’t think of as high flood-risk locations, like Chattanooga or Philadelphia.

According to First Street, another big city – Chicago – has an additional 76,000 properties that should be on the FEMA floodplain, but aren’t.

And it’s not just large urban settings like Chicago where FEMA appears to underestimating homes in the floodplain. First Street identified West Virginia as the state with the greatest discrepancy and having even more homes at-risk than Louisiana or Florida.REPEATEDLY FLOODED HOMES ALSO ON THE RISE

While First Street’s research is the most comprehensive to date, it is not the only chink the nation’s armor against flooding that was recently identified.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that programs designed to move homes out of floodplains or provide fortification of homes by elevating them – or flood proofing – are not keeping pace with the number of properties with repeated flooding.

GAO found that there was a 43 percent increase in the amount of repeatedly flooded properties in the U.S. climbing from 150,000 in 2009 to 214,000 by 2018.

In a changing climate when storms appear to be intensifying and coming more frequently, the GAO expects that number to continue to rise.

Most flood experts agree that FEMA must modernize to stay ahead of the curve, especially in inland areas where urban flooding due to heavy rainfall clears the one percent line of demarcation but is not currently included on the maps.

Even with those limitations, FEMA’s methods, which were developed decades ago, assesses only riverine and storm surge flood risks using historical data and without accounting for projected sea level rise along much of the coast

According to USA Today, FEMA and local officials don’t always see eye-to-eye.

Grover Fugate, former executive director of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council, noted that FEMA revamped its flood maps along the state’s coast a few years ago, and actually lowered storm-surge estimates by up to five feet.

Concerned that the agency was using a 50-year-old model to predict the way a storm surge would begin moving over the land, Fugate and his team created their own flood maps and found that FEMA underestimated wave heights in severe storms by as many as 16 feet.IMPACT ON FLOOD INSURANCE

Meanwhile, with this new data, the ever-struggling National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) now faces another financial crisis.

The NFIP has not been able to be a self-sustaining entity ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and GAO has listed the NFIP as “high-risk” and in need of a complete overhaul.

Some lawmakers have suggested that the NFIP could move back into the black by mitigating properties that have repeated flood claims either by buying them out, or through flood-proofing.

However, current mitigation efforts are not keeping up with the growth of the repetitive-loss properties and by itself, will not solve the problem.

“Mitigation alone will not be sufficient to resolve NFIP’s financial challenges,” GAO wrote in a June 2020 report. “A more comprehensive approach is necessary to address the program’s fiscal exposure.”

Combine the new data from First Street with GAO’s findings and suddenly, Congress may not have a choice but to consider allowing flood insurance premiums to rise.

The GAO report identified approximately 1 million NFIP policies with premiums that are artificially low and do not reflect the property’s actual flood risk.

GAO suggested that affordability can be addressed by bringing the hidden subsides out into the open and removing them, except for the lowest-income property owners.

“Assigning full-risk premium rates to all policies would remove subsidies from those who do not need them, helping improve solvency. It would also more accurately signal the true flood risk,” GAO wrote.THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT

First Street has also released a tool and website called “Flood Factor.” It’s a downloadable application for a phone in which homeowners and buyers can evaluate any property’s flood risk. It also allows for a historical search on the flooding of a property.

“This sounds like a CARFAX for homes,” Larry Bartlett, the property appraiser for Volusia County, Fla. told USA Today. “If I was a lender, I’d want to know if the property I was lending money on stood a good chance of being underwater in 30 years.”

Along with USA Today, information from Climatewire was also used in this report.

Want to learn more about how to be prepared for a flood? Check out these links below:

Be Prepared for a Flood
Factsheet on how to stay safe before, during, and after a flood.

Flood Social Media Toolkit
Website with social media resources.

12 Ways to Prepare
A postcard with 12 steps you can take to be more prepared.

Document and Insure Your Property
Document outlining specific steps you can take to document and insure your valuables before a disaster.

HUD to abolish Obama-era AFFH fair housing rule

The AFFH rule requires cities and towns that receive federal funding to examine local housing patterns for racial bias. Read the original article by Mary Ann Azevedo on HousingWire The Trump administration will terminate the Obama-era…

HUD to abolish Obama-era AFFH fair housing rule

The AFFH rule requires cities and towns that receive federal funding to examine local housing patterns for racial bias.

Read the original article by Mary Ann Azevedo on HousingWire

The Trump administration will terminate the Obama-era rule regarding the implementation of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, or AFFH, provision of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, according to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson.

In a press release issued on Thursday, Carson alleged the provision has proven “to be complicated, costly, and ineffective.”

“After reviewing thousands of comments on the proposed changes to the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation, we found it to be unworkable and ultimately a waste of time for localities to comply with, too often resulting in funds being steered away from communities that need them most,” said Secretary Carson in the release. “…Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community’s unique needs.”

The 2015 rule requires cities and towns that receive federal funding to examine local housing patterns for racial bias and design a plan to address any measurable bias.

On a related note, proposed amendments of the HUD interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard have been met with opposition from industry leaders including the National Association of Realtors and Quicken.

But a complete “tearing down” of the AFFH rule, as Carson put it, was not expected...

New Model: Nearly Six Milion More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise of water…

New Model: Nearly Six Milion More U.S. Homes in Flood Danger

Independent analysis shows greater risk than FEMA maps indicate

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

Assessing the risk of a flood is a herculean undertaking. Trying to predict long-term weather patterns, the impact on the rise of water in a certain area, as well as changes in the topography of land over time from natural or man-made changes, makes identifying the risk a constant struggle.

That unenviable task falls under the purview of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) which makes the best of limited resources to produce the highest quality maps to support community safety regulations for as much of the country as possible. Nevertheless, a recent analysis has found that by not including all sources of flooding (e.g., heavy rainfall) and being updated frequently,  the federal flood maps have underestimated the flood risk to almost six million homes or structures in the United States.

The analysis was conducted by the First Street Foundation, a non-profit that created a consortium of scientists, researchers and engineers from Rutgers University, the University of California at Berkley and George Mason University, as well as researchers from the Rhodium Group and flood analysts from Fathom. They took on the ambitious task of extending FEMA maps to every home in America except for Alaska and Hawaii.

“SIGNIFICANT GAPS EXIST IN CALIFORNIA, PENNSYLVANIA, TEXAS, NEW YORK, AND TENNESSEE, MOSTLY DRIVEN BY AREAS THAT YOU WOULDN’T THINK OF AS HIGH FLOOD-RISK LOCATIONS, LIKE CHATTANOOGA OR PHILADELPHIA.”

While FEMA maps are generally very expensive, labor intensive and time consuming, First Street was able to leverage advances in catastrophe modeling and remote sensing technologies – like LiDAR from airplanes – in order to overcome the mapping challenges and generate a nationwide model that measured flood assessment to high degree of accuracy and precision.

It was major step forward in educating the nation’s property owners about flood risk and protecting the U.S. taxpayer in the process.

The group’s modeling is “exactly what we need to be doing,” Kerry Emmanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at MIT who serves on First Street’s advisory board, told USA Today. “Until recently we didn’t have people putting all these little pieces together. We had really good people working on that little piece of the problem and good people working on another little corner.”

The new model identified roughly 14.6 million American homes – or about 1 of every 10 homes in the country – have an annual risk of flooding of at least one percent, which is the threshold the federal government uses to assess which homeowners are required to purchase flood insurance. This is contrary to FEMA’s list, which is about 40% lower, at 8.7 million properties in the floodplain.

First Street’s model didn’t just identify blind spots in the FEMA maps, but also made 30-year projections. According to their data, an additional 1.6 million properties will reach that one percent risk plateau by 2050.

While one percent might not seem high – it’s about the same risk you take driving 70 MPH on the highway – if you extrapolate that over the length of a 30-year mortgage on a property, the odds of a home flooding before a mortgage is paid off is about 1-in-4, or 26 percent.

Many of the largest discrepancies between FEMA and First Street maps were in states and cities not typically considered at high-risk for flooding.

Significant gaps exist in California, Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, and Tennessee, mostly driven by areas that you wouldn’t think of as high flood-risk locations, like Chattanooga or Philadelphia.

According to First Street, another big city – Chicago – has an additional 76,000 properties that should be on the FEMA floodplain, but aren’t.

And it’s not just large urban settings like Chicago where FEMA appears to underestimating homes in the floodplain. First Street identified West Virginia as the state with the greatest discrepancy and having even more homes at-risk than Louisiana or Florida.REPEATEDLY FLOODED HOMES ALSO ON THE RISE

While First Street’s research is the most comprehensive to date, it is not the only chink the nation’s armor against flooding that was recently identified.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that programs designed to move homes out of floodplains or provide fortification of homes by elevating them – or flood proofing – are not keeping pace with the number of properties with repeated flooding.

GAO found that there was a 43 percent increase in the amount of repeatedly flooded properties in the U.S. climbing from 150,000 in 2009 to 214,000 by 2018.

In a changing climate when storms appear to be intensifying and coming more frequently, the GAO expects that number to continue to rise.

Most flood experts agree that FEMA must modernize to stay ahead of the curve, especially in inland areas where urban flooding due to heavy rainfall clears the one percent line of demarcation but is not currently included on the maps.

Even with those limitations, FEMA’s methods, which were developed decades ago, assesses only riverine and storm surge flood risks using historical data and without accounting for projected sea level rise along much of the coast

According to USA Today, FEMA and local officials don’t always see eye-to-eye.

Grover Fugate, former executive director of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council, noted that FEMA revamped its flood maps along the state’s coast a few years ago, and actually lowered storm-surge estimates by up to five feet.

Concerned that the agency was using a 50-year-old model to predict the way a storm surge would begin moving over the land, Fugate and his team created their own flood maps and found that FEMA underestimated wave heights in severe storms by as many as 16 feet.IMPACT ON FLOOD INSURANCE

Meanwhile, with this new data, the ever-struggling National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) now faces another financial crisis.

The NFIP has not been able to be a self-sustaining entity ever since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and GAO has listed the NFIP as “high-risk” and in need of a complete overhaul.

Some lawmakers have suggested that the NFIP could move back into the black by mitigating properties that have repeated flood claims either by buying them out, or through flood-proofing.

However, current mitigation efforts are not keeping up with the growth of the repetitive-loss properties and by itself, will not solve the problem.

“Mitigation alone will not be sufficient to resolve NFIP’s financial challenges,” GAO wrote in a June 2020 report. “A more comprehensive approach is necessary to address the program’s fiscal exposure.”

Combine the new data from First Street with GAO’s findings and suddenly, Congress may not have a choice but to consider allowing flood insurance premiums to rise.

The GAO report identified approximately 1 million NFIP policies with premiums that are artificially low and do not reflect the property’s actual flood risk.

GAO suggested that affordability can be addressed by bringing the hidden subsides out into the open and removing them, except for the lowest-income property owners.

“Assigning full-risk premium rates to all policies would remove subsidies from those who do not need them, helping improve solvency. It would also more accurately signal the true flood risk,” GAO wrote.THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT

First Street has also released a tool and website called “Flood Factor.” It’s a downloadable application for a phone in which homeowners and buyers can evaluate any property’s flood risk. It also allows for a historical search on the flooding of a property.

“This sounds like a CARFAX for homes,” Larry Bartlett, the property appraiser for Volusia County, Fla. told USA Today. “If I was a lender, I’d want to know if the property I was lending money on stood a good chance of being underwater in 30 years.”

Along with USA Today, information from Climatewire was also used in this report.

Want to learn more about how to be prepared for a flood? Check out these links below:

Be Prepared for a Flood
Factsheet on how to stay safe before, during, and after a flood.

Flood Social Media Toolkit
Website with social media resources.

12 Ways to Prepare
A postcard with 12 steps you can take to be more prepared.

Document and Insure Your Property
Document outlining specific steps you can take to document and insure your valuables before a disaster.

New Executive Order Takes On Housing Affordability Issues

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO In June, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to create a new White House Council to tackle affordable housing issues across the country. The new council will be chaired by Department…

New Executive Order Takes On Housing Affordability Issues

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

In June, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to create a new White House Council to tackle affordable housing issues across the country.

The new council will be chaired by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and will consist of members from eight different federal agencies.

The hope is that with all these agencies working together, interagency processes will be streamlined and as a result, development of affordable housing will occur faster.

" Areas of the country that deal with the biggest gap between supply and demand of affordable housing also have the most restrictive regulations put on them by the state and local governments."

“Four nearly four decades, U.S. household incomes have increased at a slower rate than home prices, a problem that was only made worse by the Great Recession,” said John Smaby, President of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). “Today, despite historic economic growth and recovery, misguided regulations and gaps in new home constructions have stopped far too many Americans from purchasing a home.

“NAR thanks President Trump for taking much-needed steps to address housing affordability in this country, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the White House to ensure the American dream remains attainable for all those who seek to become homeowners.”

The newly formed council will meet with leaders from state and local associations to identify the issues that impact affordable housing development and to determine how many of those issues are directly related to federal, state and local regulations on the cost of that development.

The council will focus on finding new ways of cutting regulatory costs.

"This is a matter of supply and demand, and we have to increase the supply of affordable homes by changing the cost side of the equation."

Areas of the country that deal with the biggest gap between supply and demand of affordable housing also have the most restrictive regulations put on them by the state and local governments. In fact, more than 25% of the cost of building a new home is directly related to costs associated with state and local regulations.

“With housing affordability near a 10-year low, the President’s executive order on this critical issue underscores that the White House is ready to take a leading role to help resolve the nation’s affordability crisis,”  Greg Ugalde, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), told Housing Wire. “Given that homeownership historically has been part of the American dream and a primary source of wealth for most American households, the need to tackle ongoing affordability concerns is especially urgent.

“NAHB will continue to work with the White House and Secretary Carson to find innovative solutions to increase the production of sorely needed quality, affordable housing.”

Only seven homes were built for every 10 households formed in the U.S. from 2010 to 2016, according to the Census Bureau.

“With the signing of [this] Executive Order, President Trump is prescribing a powerful treatment that correctly diagnoses the source of America’s affordable housing condition,” Carson said. “This is a matter of supply and demand, and we have to increase the supply of affordable homes by changing the cost side of the equation.”

Carson added that increasing the housing supply of housing by eliminating long-choking regulations, will reduce housing costs and grow the economy.

Six Innovative Ways To Tackle The Housing Crisis

Read the original article on Home Ownership Matters. As home prices rise and inventory tightens up across the country, states and cities are proposing innovative solutions to provide more homes to more people. Check out…

Six Innovative Ways To Tackle The Housing Crisis

Read the original article on Home Ownership Matters.

As home prices rise and inventory tightens up across the country, states and cities are proposing innovative solutions to provide more homes to more people. Check out ways your community could alleviate a housing shortage.

Opportunity Zone Investment Finally Buzzing Despite Pandemic

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO Like every other business and industry, development in opportunity zones sat out the first couple months of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, in the past month, investors have shrugged the novel coronavirus aside…

Opportunity Zone Investment Finally Buzzing Despite Pandemic

BY ANTHONY SANFILIPPO

Like every other business and industry, development in opportunity zones sat out the first couple months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But, in the past month, investors have shrugged the novel coronavirus aside and have been quite active in the opportunity zone real estate market.

Deals are being closed. New projects are under way. And evidence that this program, that was created to pump billions of dollars into underserved communities around the country, might be the first to show signs of economic recovery as the pandemic panic slowly dissipates.

But was it COVID-19 that seemed to light this spark? Or was it the quick drop in the economy?

“THERE HAS BEEN AN UPTICK IN ACTIVITY BOTH FROM [OPPORTUNITY ZONE] FUNDS RAISING CAPITAL AS WELL AS TRANSACTIONS OCCURRING SINCE MID-APRIL, WHERE IT SEEMS LIKE SOME OF THE MOMENTUM THAT HAD BEEN BUILT IN Q3 AND Q4 IS COMING TO FRUITION.”

Several experts believe that the pause in the stock market and the subsequent economic downturn made people look at their investments for the first time in awhile, after a long period of growth, and made them start to wonder what they should do with their capital gains.

“There has been an uptick in activity both from [opportunity zone] funds raising capital as well as transactions occurring since mid-April, where it seems like some of the momentum that had been built in Q3 and Q4 is coming to fruition,” Economic Innovation Group Director of Impact Strategy Rachel Reilly told Bisnow.

With the market being so volatile during the pandemic, investors pulled their money out of the market and were looking for places to put it – and a popular landing spot was opportunity zone funds.

A bevy of opportunity zone deals that were in the works prior to the virus quarantine either closed on their financing or put the first shovels in the ground since the April showers turned to May flowers.

That’s because development investors believe that affordable housing in emerging areas will succeed, regardless of the economic situation.

Plus, this money is a long-term investment, meaning it’s a good gamble that the economy will be better off down the road than it is now – meaning there will be rewards to be reaped for these investors as these communities start to flourish.

Investors must hold onto their asset for 10 years in order to realize the full benefits of opportunity zones. Although there is always a bit of a gamble with any investment, these projects are likely to appreciate well, making the investment worthwhile when the time comes to sell in a decade.

In Washington D.C. alone, at least four separate opportunity zone projects have begun construction since the lockdown began. Similar projects are beginning or are already under way in Chicago, Tampa, and Los Angeles.

Part of the reason opportunity zone investment and funding is starting to hit its stride now is because the rules have been clarified. The department of the Treasury finalized the guidance for the program last December after what amounted to a two-year question-and-answer session with potential stakeholders.

Bridge Opportunity Zone Strategy Chief Investment Officer, David Coelho, told Bisnow that last year, his company deployed $950M into 21 opportunity zone transactions and hopes to be just as active in 2020 especially because of the down market.

Land prices have dropped. So have construction costs. With most developments taking a year, or longer to build, this economic downturn has been a boon for investors.

“A lot more deals are coming back our way,” he said. “A lot of deals had capital lined up and that capital has fallen out. I think that trend will continue. It’s good for our strategy and for opportunity zones in general as non-opportunity zone capital decides to sit on the sidelines and consider whether there will be distressed opportunities, I think they’ll be less focused on development.”

All of this good news aside, most of the momentum is in development that is residential. The retail and hospitality industries are among the hardest hit by the pandemic and as such, investment in those assets has dried up.

But, the long view suggests that investing in opportunity zones now is a hedge against the unknown of what the future holds. With so many state and city budgets in shambles and with all the government spending that has and still is taking place, it’s likely a sure bet that taxes are going to go up in the near future.

By investing in opportunity zones, by holding onto the investment for 10 years, any profits are not taxed. That’s incredibly valuable, especially in the middle of this virus outbreak.

And if investors are smart enough to see that and sustain it for a decade, it can be a win-win situation not just for them financially, but also for the community they are dumping their money into after being underserved for so long.

Millions more US homes are at risk of flooding than previously known, new analysis shows

Read the original article by Drew Kann on CNN. (CNN) Millions more properties than previously known across the US are at substantial risk of flooding. And as climate change accelerates, many more will see their flood…

Millions more US homes are at risk of flooding than previously known, new analysis shows

Read the original article by Drew Kann on CNN.

(CNN) Millions more properties than previously known across the US are at substantial risk of flooding. And as climate change accelerates, many more will see their flood risk grow.Those are the findings of a comprehensive new analysis by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group that experts say has put together the fullest picture yet of the country's growing vulnerability to flooding.Today, around 8.7 million properties are located in Special Flood Hazard Areas as determined by FEMA's flood maps, the legal standard used in the US to manage floodplains, determine insurance requirements and price policy premiums.But as many as 14.6 million properties -- nearly 70% more than are in FEMA's Special Flood Hazard Areas -- may actually be at significant risk of flooding, according to First Street's modeling. The discrepancy between FEMA's maps and this new data means that some 6 million property owners could be unaware of their current flood risk, the group says.

New Data Reveals Hidden Flood Risk Across America

Read the original article by Christopher Flavelle, Denise Lu, Veronica Penney, Nadja Popovich and John Schwartz on nytimes.com Nearly twice as many properties may be susceptible to flood damage than previously thought, according to a new effort to map the danger.…

New Data Reveals Hidden Flood Risk Across America

Read the original article by Christopher FlavelleDenise Lu, Veronica Penney, Nadja Popovich and John Schwartz on nytimes.com

Nearly twice as many properties may be susceptible to flood damage than previously thought, according to a new effort to map the danger.

Across much of the United States, the flood risk is far greater than government estimates show, new calculations suggest, exposing millions of people to a hidden threat — and one that will only grow as climate change worsens.

That new calculation, which takes into account sea-level rise, rainfall and flooding along smaller creeks not mapped federally, estimates that 14.6 million properties are at risk from what experts call a 100-year flood, far more than the 8.7 million properties shown on federal government flood maps. A 100-year flood is one with a 1 percent chance of striking in any given year.

The federal government’s flood maps guide where and how to build, whether homeowners should buy flood insurance, and how much risk mortgage lenders take on. If the new estimates are broadly accurate, it would mean that homeowners, builders, banks, insurers and government officials nationwide have been making decisions with information that understates their true physical and financial risks.