Congress is Investigating Real
A congressional subcommittee is
investigating whether long-standing real estate practices are
anti-competitive and violate the Sherman Anti-trust Act.
Financial Services Committee Chairman
Michael Oxley opened the investigative hearing by asking why
from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine so uniformly
charge six percent commissions?
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$550 Billion in ARMs Are Due to
Get in on the Big ARM Refinancing
$550 Billion in ARMs are due to
reset this year.*
Another $1.35 Trillion will reset
The average ARM
homeowner faces a 26% increase* in monthly payments and
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ARMs Present a Big Opportunity |
Many homeowners are finding
themselves financially strapped as their adjustable rate mortgages
reset for the first time. This is undoubtedly contributing to record
foreclosure activity in California.
ARMs totaling $550 Billion are due to reset in 2006 and another
$1.35 Trillion will reset in 2007, amounting to 15 percent of the
U.S. mortgage debt, according to Boston based Property & Profile
Research. The average ARM homeowners face a 26% increase in their
monthly mortgage payments, which could be catastrophic for some
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here to read more about recent foreclosure activity.
Home Sales in California rose
over 12 percent in August comparied to July, but sales were
still down in comparison with August of last year.
A total of 49,800 new and resale houses and condos were sold
statewide last month. That's up 12.5 percent from 44,250 for July
and down 25.1 percent from a revised 66,500 for August 2005.
The median price paid for a home last month was $472,000. That
figure is down 0.6 percent from July's $475,000, and up 3.5
percent from $456,000 for August a year ago.
The typical mortgage payment that home buyers committed
themselves to paying last month was $2,258. That was down from
$2,353 in July, and up from $2,034 for August a year ago.
here to read the entire
Prices May Be Nearing Plateau|
Southern California home
sales for August continued at their slowest pace in nine years, but
price levels appear to be nearing a plateau, according to DataQuick
Analyst John Karevoll.
A total of 25,628 new and resale homes sold in Los Angeles,
Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties
last month. That was up 12.8% from 22,712 in July, and down 25.3
percent from 34,292 for August a year ago, according statistics
compiled by DataQuick Information Systems.
Sales have declined on a year-over-year basis for the last
nine months. Sales last month were the lowest for any August since
1997, when 22,308 home sales were recorded. DataQuick sales
statistics go back to 1988 when August sales 35,339. The lowest
August sells occurred in 1992 when only 12,769 homes sold.The
average number of homes sold in August since 1988 calculates to
"There's an awful lot of moaning going on right now.
Potential buyers and sellers need to be careful what they believe
and exercise common sense in their decision making," says DataQuick
President Marshall Prentice.
"The market is certainly off from its frenzy, but we have
to remember that it takes much more downward pressure to push prices
down than upward pressure to push them up. Prices have doubled the
last four-and-a-half years. So does the market keep all of that
gain, or only ninety percent?"
here to read more on this
Insurance Agents Timing is Everything!|
Insurance agents love renewal time and
it's always renewal time when you use X-Dates List to generate
X-Dates List is now available in DataQuick's ProspectFinder FARM
and it does something very special for insurance agents. It
finds homeowners with insurance policies that are coming up for
Let's start with the basics. With X-Dates List you can order
prospect lists by the purchase month of the property, which is
usually the insurance policy renewal month. But that's just the
beginning. X-Dates can also cross reference purchase dates and
property characteristics to generate a list that is highly
qualified. For example, you can select properties by the number of
bedrooms, number of bathrooms, square footage, lot size, or whether
there is a swimming pool.
According to a recent survey, 32 million households in the U.S.
are under insured.* For insurance agents, this presents a great
opportunity to offer help in bringing their policies up to
date. And what better time could there be to make
contact with an under insured homeowner than just prior to
their renewal date?
To learn more about ProspectFinder FARM with X-Dates List, call
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*Source: Trusted Choice® Survey,
is Investigating Real Estate Brokers, continued...|
(Continued from column one
Comparing real estate brokers to stockbrokers, Oxley said
both are allowed to set their own rules, but the Securities and
Exchange Commission approves the stock market's
"For residential real estate markets, there is no
government regulator to protect the public interest," Oxley said.
"There is only regulation of the brokers, by the brokers, for the
National Association of REALTORS®, President-Elect Pat
Vredevoogd-Combs denied allegations that NAR sets pricing or is in
any way anti-competitive. Instead, she called America's
residential real estate market a "model of efficiency" and said it
accounts for 15 percent of the country's gross national product
"It would be simply impossible to implement an agreement
on prices among NAR's 1.3 million vigorously competitive members,"
She added that NAR is careful not to conduct research on
commission rates out of concern that the results could be perceived
as setting a "going rate" or a benchmark for the
The commission rates real estate brokers charge have
remained the same for decades, despite soaring home prices,
technological advances and increases in efficiency. The committee
has an obligation to make sure real estate markets are fair and
open, and to protect consumers, Oxley said.
From 2000 to 2004, fees paid for brokerage services grew
50 percent, and consumers paid $61 Billion in brokerage fees in
2004, according to an August 2005 Government Accounting
Office (GAO) report.
In an effort to debunk charges that NAR limits consumer
access to real estate listings on the Internet, Vredevoogd-Combs
reminded the committee that NAR operates the largest real estate
Internet website, Realtor.com, with over 2.2 million listings.
According to a NAR member survey, the number of brokerage firms with
websites has increase 129 percent in the last five years.
Since March of 2004 the GAO has been examining real
estate practices with an eye towards barriers to electronic commerce
and the lack of price competition. The Department of Justice and the Federal Trade
Commission are also weighing in. Deputy Assistant Attorney General
J. Bruce McDonald told the committee that a joint DOJ/FTC
taskforce is holding workshops to discuss anti-competitive practices
with state officials, economists, and brokers. The joint
taskforce will report its findings later this year.
Over the last few years, McDonald said the DOJ has
successfully advocated for greater competition in several states,
including Oklahoma, Virginia and New Mexico. In 2005 the DOJ filed a lawsuits against the real
estate commissions of Kentucky, West Virginia and South Dakota for
imposing regulations that prohibited brokers from offering rebates
to consumers. In each case the ban against rebates was
Last September the DOJ brought an anti-trust lawsuit
against the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for adopting
nationwide rules that allegedly limit competition by brokers
marketing on the Internet. The NAR rules limit access to the
Multiple Listing Services (MLS) and allow traditional brokers to
withhold their listings from Internet brokers.
"Home sellers and home buyers are harmed when government
or private restrictions on real estate broker competition prevent
brokers from offering innovative services or adopting new, cost
saving practices," McDonald said.
here to learn visit the House Financial Services Committee