Inman Real Estate News for Realtors and Brokers 2021-08-05T23:00:07Z WordPress Libertina Brandt <![CDATA[Redfin agents returning to the office must be vaccinated, masked]]> 2021-08-05T23:00:07Z 2021-08-05T22:57:00Z In addition to the vaccine mandate, Redfin has delayed the reopening of its headquarters' offices because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

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Redfin’s approximately 3,000 employees, which includes agents, will have to be vaccinated if they plan on returning to the office, according to a company-wide memo.

On Wednesday, the Seattle-based brokerage sent a company-wide email stating that the reopening of its headquarters’ offices will be delayed as a result of the rising number of COVID-19 cases. 

The reopening was set for September 6 and has not been given a new date yet. Employees will receive a 30-day notice ahead of the new date and will not be able to return to the office unless they are vaccinated.  

Starting on August 9, employees will have to confirm their vaccination status online before they can work in Redfin office locations. Employees who work in Seattle, San Francisco, or Frisco, Texas, offices will have their keycard access suspended if they don’t confirm they are vaccinated by August 9. 

“At least until infection rates from this new highly contagious delta variant subside, we also have to limit office access. Any employee can come into the office to pick up yard signs or other equipment, but otherwise we’re asking employees who haven’t been fully vaccinated to work from home,” the email says.

But even with vaccines, Redfin is encouraging its employees to continue wearing masks around the office unless they are in a room alone with the door closed.  

“It’s obviously your choice, but if you haven’t been vaccinated yet, I hope you get vaccinated today,” the email says. “Redfin will give you plenty of time off to do so. Nearly all people over the age of 11 are eligible for vaccination, but less than half the U.S. has been fully vaccinated, making it easier for the coronavirus to spread to our most-vulnerable friends and colleagues, and to keep mutating.”

Redfin is just one of a slew of real estate companies to update its vaccine requirements. 

On Tuesday, Inman reported that Related Companies is requiring all of its 4,000 employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by August 31. Those who don’t comply, will be fired. 

Related Companies is a New York City-based real estate firm with offices in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, South Florida, London and Abu Dhabi.

And last month, the Durst Organization announced that it’s making vaccines mandatory for its non-union employees.  

The Durst Organization is a New York-based firm that dates back over 100 years. The firm develops, builds, owns, and manages commercial and residential properties that span across New York City, Dutchess County, and Philadelphia. 

The Durst Organization will require its non-union employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 6.

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Marian McPherson <![CDATA[Redfin’s Q2 revenue jumps 121% to $471 million]]> 2021-08-05T22:11:50Z 2021-08-05T22:05:07Z Redfin Premier and RedfinNow's robust performance pushed Redfin's revenue to new heights during Q2 2021. However, agent attrition and website traffic continue to be an issue.

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Online brokerage and portal Redfin raked in $471 million during the second quarter of 2021 — nearly doubling its production from the first three months of the year. Redfin’s revenues represent a 121 percent year over year increase from the previous year when the company, like much of the industry, was navigating the impact of coronavirus on real estate activity.

Redfin’s net losses ballooned on an annual basis from $6.6 million to $27.9 million, as the company’s stock-based compensation increased 90.2 percent year over year to $13.7 million. The RentPath acquisition and increased marketing costs also contributed to increased net losses, the company explained. On a quarterly basis, however, net losses are down from $36 million in Q1.

Glenn Kelman | Photo credit: Redfin

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman said the company’s second-quarter performance was “better than projected in our last earnings call,” especially when it comes to market share growth.

“Even if the housing market grew by leaps and bounds since its near-death experience in the second quarter of 2020, Redfin’s share of that market also increased by a whopping 24 basis points, reaching 1.18 percent of all home sales based on the value of the home sold,” he said. “This is our largest market share gain since Redfin’s Initial Public Offering in 2017, and the fourth straight quarter of share gain acceleration.”

The CEO attributed Redfin’s market share and revenue gains to robust activity in Redfin Premier and RedfinNow markets.

“We took share where it mattered most: in markets where we offer Redfin Premier services, Redfin listings above a million dollars grew three times faster than listings below a million dollars,” Kelman said in a written statement before the call. “Despite increased pricing discipline and record gross margins, RedfinNow bought 40 percent more homes in the second quarter than we did in all of 2020; our properties revenue grew 139 percent.”

Since the February launch of Redfin Premier, the number of consultations for homes valued above $1 million increased a whopping 111 percent year over year, and as a result, the number of Redfin’s million-dollar listings increased from 5 percent in Q2 2020 to 13 percent in Q2 2021.

Alongside Redfin Premier, RedfinNow was a winner during the second quarter despite a decline in offer price due to seasonal trends and an expected cooling of home price appreciation during Q3 and Q4. “Even with more cautious offers, we bought nearly 40 percent more homes in the second quarter than we did in all of 2020, significantly exceeding our second-quarter target,” Kelman said during the call.

Even with the success of Redfin Premier and RedfinNow, Kelman said the brokerage is still struggling with agent attrition and having enough labor to complete renovations of Redfin-owned homes.

Overall agent attrition increased 6 percent quarter over quarter to 36 percent. Experienced agents’ (+2 years) attrition increased from 9 percent in Q1 2021 to 18 percent in Q2 2021. Meanwhile, new agent attrition declined quarter over quarter from 53 percent to 49 percent.

“A major cause of higher attrition in the first half of 2021 was fast hiring,” Kelman said. “New agents are already the group most likely to leave Redfin and we haven’t had such a high proportion of new agents in years.”

“Because we’ve been eager to return to market share growth, we probably also made more hiring mistakes,” he added. “Nearly half the people who left in the second quarter were people we wouldn’t choose to hire again.”

The CEO also said the uber-competitiveness of the market likely pushed new agents out of the industry as a whole, as there are currently more agents than listings. “With Realtors outnumbering listings, it has been hard for any buyer’s agent to put a deal together, and most new Redfin agents start out as buyer’s agents,” Kelman said.

Kelman has a bullish outlook on Redfin’s immediate and long-term future as he said the portal is “still growing faster than Zillow and Trulia,” despite two consecutive quarters of declining traffic, which he said is due to waning buyer demand in the face of bidding wars.

However, the CEO said the company’s $29 million investment in marketing and a coming launch of new, robust neighborhood data will place traffic back on firm footing. “Redfin has seceded some search share to, a trend that seems likely to continue at least until year-end when Redfin calm will import more neighborhood data,” he explained.

Lastly, Redfin is banking on its investing in rental marketplace RentPath, which was caught in a battle between CoStar and the Federal Trade Commission earlier this year. With new CEO Jon Ziglar at the helm, the company is hitting fast-forward on its plans to integrate RentPath data into the Redfin portal. “There are bigger changes to come,” Kelman said.

The company ended the call with a bullish outlook on its Q3 and fiscal year 2021 results. Redfin expects its Q3 revenue to reach a maximum of $541 million, which represents a 128 percent increase from Q3 2020. The net losses are expected to keep dropping to between $24 and $20 million, with the investment in RentPath counting for $17 million of those losses.

Redfin (NYSE: RDFN) closed the day at $60.67; however, the after-hours price per share dropped to $59.00. The company’s market cap sits at $6.16 billion.

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Daniel Houston <![CDATA[August opens with lower mortgage rates as Treasury yields dip]]> 2021-08-05T22:00:16Z 2021-08-05T22:00:16Z Interest rates on 30-year mortgages fell further as bond markets reacted to the delta variant's potential impact on the global economy.

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Mortgage rates dipped further in the early days of August, with average rates for 30-year loans falling 3 basis points, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly lender survey.

“With global market uncertainty surrounding the Delta variant of COVID-19, we saw 10-year Treasury yields drift lower and consequently mortgage rates followed suit,” Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sam Khater said in a statement. “The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dipped back to where it stood at the beginning of 2021, and the 15-year fixed remained at its historic low. This bodes well for those still looking to refinance, renovate or even purchase a new home.”

For the week ending Aug. 5, Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey reported average rates for the following types of loans:

  • For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, rates averaged 2.77 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from 2.80 percent last week and lower than 2.88 percent a year ago. Rates for 30-year loans hit an all-time low of 2.65 percent during the week ending Jan. 7, 2021, according to records dating to 1971.
  • Rates on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 2.10 percent with an average 0.6 point, matching last week’s historic low and down from a rate of 2.44 percent a year ago. The mark kept rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgage loans at all-time lows in records dating to 1991, replacing the previous low set July 22, 2021.
  • For 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans, rates averaged 2.40 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from 2.45 percent last week and 2.90 percent a year ago. Rates on 5-year ARM loans are at their lowest levels since at least 2005, remaining below a previous low point of 2.56 percent during the week ending May 2, 2013.

Freddie Mac’s weekly survey of home purchase loans assumes a 20 percent down payment and a borrower with excellent credit. Borrowers with lower credit scores may see higher interest rates.

Rates have come down since February and March, when fears of inflation made mortgages temporarily more expensive for borrowers. Since then, however, the rates for 30-year loans have hovered around or below 3 percent. 

Investors are watching the Federal Reserve’s actions closely. If the central bank decides to buy fewer Treasury bills and mortgage bonds in an effort to curb inflation, rates may rise again. 

Email Daniel Houston

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Matt Carter <![CDATA[Acquisitions spur Black Knight’s double-digit revenue growth]]> 2021-08-05T21:32:40Z 2021-08-05T21:32:40Z A string of acquisitions coupled with strong organic growth helped software, data and analytics provider Black Knight post double-digit revenue growth during the second quarter.

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A string of acquisitions coupled with strong organic growth helped software, data and analytics provider Black Knight post double-digit revenue growth during the second quarter.

Black Knight reported Thursday that second quarter revenue grew by 23 percent from a year ago, to $361.3 million, with net earnings up a more modest 2 percent, to $39.7 million.

After factoring out growth that was due to acquisitions, Black Knight said organic revenue growth was up 11 percent from a year ago. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were up 21 percent, to $177.5 million.

Anthony Jabbour | Black Knight, Inc.

Black Knight CEO Anthony Jabbour said he was pleased with those numbers, which “reflect the consistent execution of our strategy to drive organic growth through the addition of new clients, the expansion of relationships with existing clients and the delivery of new innovative solutions.”

Black Knight revenue growth, by segment. Source: Black Knight quarterly report to investors

Revenue from software solutions was up 25 percent from a year ago, to $305.4 million, while revenue from Black Knight’s data and analytics businesses was up 16 percent, to $55.9 million.

Within the software solutions segment, the biggest growth was in mortgage origination software, up 60.5 percent to $97.6 million. But servicing software continues to be Black Knight’s biggest business, with revenue up 12.8 percent to $207.8 million.

Acquisitions fueling growth

Last fall, Black Knight partnered with two investment firms in a $1.8 billion deal to acquire Optimal Blue, a marketplace platform that provides product and pricing data for mortgage lenders and investors. Black Knight contributed $762 million in cash, and its Compass Analytics business, for a 60 percent stake in Optimal Blue Holdco, LLC.

This year Black Knight has acquired:

  • A cloud-based loan origination system from NexSpring Financial LLC, to better serve mortgage brokers.
  • eMBS Inc., which tracks the performance of nearly $7.5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS).
  • Top of Mind Networks, the developer of Surefire, a customer relationship management and marketing automation system for the mortgage industry.

In its latest quarterly report to investors, Black Knight revealed that it paid a total consideration of $254.1 million for Top of Mind, and $52.7 million for other acquisitions including NexSpring and eMBS.

“With our strong second quarter performance, our confidence in the outlook for the remainder of the year and the effect of the Top of Mind and eMBS acquisitions, we are raising our full year guidance again,” Jabour said in a statement.

Black Knight said it now expects 2021 revenue will grow by 17 to 18 percent, to somewhere between $1.447 billion and $1.463 billion.

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) are now forecast at between $704 million and $716 million, which would represent 15 percent to 17 percent growth.

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Veronika Bondarenko <![CDATA[Goodbye off-season: How COVID has changed luxury rental hotspots]]> 2021-08-05T21:02:31Z 2021-08-05T21:01:02Z While popular summer destinations used to come with an off-season, large numbers of fall and winter renters are quickly changing the markets.

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While affluent summer destinations like the Hamptons or Malibu used to come with an off-season, large numbers of renters are already looking for places to secure for the fall and winter — and changing the markets for good.

Noel Roberts

“There will definitely be no Tumbleweed Tuesday,” Nest Seekers Private Client head Noel Roberts told Inman, referring to the day after Labor Day when most of the people who came to the Hamptons for the summer leave until the following year. “Last summer, the traffic did not end and grocery stores were full even in November and February. We’ll continue to see that despite people being anxious to get back to their lives from two years ago.”

The collection of Long Island hamlets and villages attracting some of New York’s wealthiest residents for the summer saw an explosion of interest since the start of the pandemic. Home sales rose 48 percent in the first quarter of this year while the median sales price rose 31 percent to $1.3 million, according to a Douglas Elliman report.

By July 2020, local agents were telling Inman that interest in renting a place had also more than doubled with many looking to rent not just in the traditional months of July and August but also well into the fall and winter.

The market’s traditional seasonality, which some predicted would return as cities opened up, is nowhere near materializing. The number of homes listed for sale dropped 41 percent in the first quarter while, in April, one home in the area rented for $2 million for the summer in a secret deal without a listing.

“Rentals have been just as frustrating for me this summer as last summer, for slightly different reasons,” Roberts said. “The biggest challenge has been struggling to find the right kind of inventory for my customers because no matter how much you want to throw at them, [owners] are just not leaving their homes. Just yesterday I had a landlord say ‘Sorry, we decided to use it for August but you know we’re open to renting for September.'”

Roberts said that he is seeing more and more clients ask to rent in September and October while they look to purchase for the long-term. And since the rise of the delta variant has pushed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to push back their return to the offices, still others are taking advantage of the quieter period to enjoy the area.

“There’s a very large subset of people who understand that right after the busy season is the best time to be in the Hamptons,” Roberts said. “The crowds dip slightly but the water is just as warm and the sunsets are just as nice while you’re dealing with less traffic from the families who have kids back in school or getting back into the school routine.”

Cara Ameer

Cara Ameer, a Coldwell Banker associate who works in both Los Angeles and South Florida, said that in the three months leading up to July, around 75 properties for over $20,000 a month in wealthy Los Angeles enclaves like Malibu, Hollywood Hills and Pacific Palisades have been rented for both the short and long term. Six of those properties rented for over $100,000 a month.

While these neighborhoods are full of celebrities who make it their home year-round, local agents have observed a higher desire in renting for traditionally quieter periods between October and February while an inventory shortage is affecting even homes in the top percentile of price points.

“The owners don’t want to give these properties up because it’s a good return on investment for them,” Ameer said. “If there was no market for it, they would sell but that takes time and requires investing into updates and repairs when […] they can put a luxury tenant in there and reap the benefits of all of that financially.”

The reasons for renting often vary from family to family and situation to situation even if the ability to work from home has been huge in driving people into what were once vacation markets. Ameer said that, even when offices do open, a fundamental reconsideration of how people work has already occurred. Many professionals are able to go into the city a few times a week rather than go in every day like they had pre-pandemic.

As a result, the desire to stay longer in a place by the water and with amenities is at an all-time high. Homes that come furnished and have amenities such as pools and outdoor space tend to get snapped up the fastest.

And while the share of those who can rent a space for $20,o00 and more month is small, an inventory shortage that does not seem to be improving means that even affluent buyers who want something specific need to search longer and earlier —  those who want to rent in October or November are already looking now.

“There are currently around 179 homes that are furnished for lease and nobody’s lowering prices,” Ameer said.

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Jim Dalrymple II <![CDATA[Zillow rakes in $1.3B revenue in second quarter, but sees profits slip]]> 2021-08-05T22:09:03Z 2021-08-05T20:17:53Z The company's net income between April and June clocked in at $10 million — better than one year ago but short of the heights of the past two quarters.

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Zillow raked in $1.3 billion in revenue between April and June of this year, besting its haul from also-impressive recent quarters, though the company also saw its overall profit fall from previous highs, the company announced Thursday in a second-quarter earnings report.

The online giant’s report revealed that in total it saw a net income of about $10 million in the second quarter of 2021. That’s up compared to one year ago, when Zillow suffered a net loss of nearly $85 million — and when the coronavirus was first impacting the housing market. However, it’s down compared to the first quarter of 2021, when the company pulled in $52 million in net income, as well as compared to the final quarter of 2020, when net income hit $46 million.

Both of those previous two quarters were, respectively, the most profitable on record for Zillow.

While net income lagged during the second quarter of the year, Zillow did see revenue soar 70 percent year over year, ultimately hitting $1.3 billion. That beat analysts’ expectations that the company would report $1.27 billion in revenue.

Significantly, analysts had expected profitability to be down thanks to more spending on product development and advertising.

Rich Barton

In the report, Zillow co-founder and CEO Rich Barton framed his company’s latest earnings figures as part of a long term strategy.

“Zillow is making rapid and significant progress toward building a seamless, integrated real estate experience for our customers and partners,” Barton said in a statement that was included in the report. “Our strong second-quarter results show how well we’re executing on the three- to five-year growth objectives we announced in 2019.”

Thursday’s report also shows that Zillow’s iBuying business has grown significantly over the last year. In total, the company brought in more than $772 million in revenue from its Zillow Offers program during the quarter, which was an increase of 70 percent year over year. That’s also up from last quarter, when iBuying scored the company nearly $701 million in revenue.

Barton singled out Zillow Offers in the report, saying the program “continues to accelerate as we offer more customers a fast, fair, flexible and convenient way to move.”

“Zillow Offers is proving attractive to sellers even in this sizzling-hot seller’s market,” he continued.

In a call with investors, Barton also said Zillow bought 3,805 homes during the second quarter, while it sold 2,086. The company is also on track to be purchasing 5,000 homes per month in the near future, and according to Barton consumers who previously thought of Zillow merely as a portal are “starting to understand and take advantage of the reality that we now offer so much more.”

Barton added during the call that even in a hot market, Zillow Offers’ value proposition has remained “more than durable.”

Premier Agent — Zillow’s lead generation program for real estate professionals — was another standout in the report, with revenue from the program hitting $348 million. That’s up 82 percent compared to the same period last year.

Zillow also brought in $56 million from its mortgage segment. While that number pales in comparison to the figures from iBuying and lead sales, it’s also a 68 percent year-over-year jump.

Zillow stock spent most of Thursday treading water in the lead up to the report, ultimately closing down very slightly for the day at $110.30 per share. After the report came out, the company’s share price bounced around in after hours trading, but ultimately ended up higher than the day’s closing price.

Credit: Google

When trading ended Thursday, Zillow had a market cap of just over 27 billion.

Barton ultimately concluded in Thursday’s report that current market trends should ultimately favor Zillow.

“We expect millennial-buyers, low interest rates, and the increasing adoption of location-flexible work policies, to fuel interest in moving for many years to come,” he said. “And these movers will increasingly demand e-commerce-like solutions where Zillow excels.”

Update: This post was updated after publication with additional information from Zillow’s earnings report, and from an investor call with company leaders. 

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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Lillian Dickerson <![CDATA[The real estate agent Olympian athletes who competed in Tokyo]]> 2021-08-05T19:56:39Z 2021-08-05T19:39:07Z Here's what the select group of agent Olympians have to say about being part of the Olympic tradition while also nurturing their real estate careers.

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One of the most thrilling things about the Olympic games is that, although Olympians are often professional athletes, they can also be everyday people who have normal jobs. Olympians are engineers, mathematicians, medical students, finance analysts and, yes, real estate professionals.

Inman searched high and low and found a couple of talented real estate professionals who competed this year in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (plus an honorable mention of an associated agent).

On top of their careers in real estate, these high achievers find time to dedicate long hours to training in order to become some of the most elite athletes in the world. This is who they are, and what they have to say about being part of the Olympic tradition while also nurturing their real estate career.

Lucas Hammond | Credit: Engel & Völkers

Name: Lucas Hammond

Brokerage: The Carroll Group at Engel & Völkers Victoria

Team country: Canada

Sporting event: Rugby sevens

Hammond was born in South Africa, but moved as a teenager with his family to Toronto. When he was about 18, Hammond moved to Victoria to pursue rugby, competing full-time with the Canadian National Rugby Sevens team. Since then, he’s traveled extensively while competing in the HSBC Rugby Sevens World Series for the last nine years, and also has participated in a number of other international tournaments, like the 2015 Pan American Games, where he helped his team win gold. In Tokyo, the Canadian men’s sevens team placed eighth.

Best thing about being an Olympian: It honestly hasn’t even sunk in yet. I think right now the best part about being an Olympian was that I fulfilled my childhood dream! As kids I think we all dream of going to the Olympics when we are watching it on TV. I took it a step further and left home as a teenager to pursue that dream.

It has been a long journey with many obstacles in my way and at times it seemed extremely unlikely that it would even happen. So at least for now the best part for me is that I made it there, I’m an Olympian and no one can take that away from me.

Best thing about being a real estate agent: There are so many great things it’s hard to choose just one. I love getting to show off our beautiful city to out of town buyers and I really love the properties I get to show, there are so many amazing homes in Victoria! I think the best part for me is meeting new people and hearing their stories.

Real estate has allowed me to meet so many great people! Being able to help my clients through such a big milestone in their life is something I find extremely rewarding. I have been fortunate enough to represent the best clients and have some really great colleagues. The people I meet in this career is what makes it the best job in the world.

What’s one thing you wish your real estate colleagues understood about being an Olympic athlete?

I think it would be the same for any athlete. I am a team player that is a driven and hardworking individual. Sport is an amazing way to meet teammates that end up becoming lifelong friends. I also believe it has taught me so many life lessons that directly translate into my professional life.

Learning how to overcome adversity and how to make the right decision under pressure are just a few of the skills I am grateful to rugby for teaching me. I think my road to the Olympics really shows the commitment and dedication I put into achieving my goals.

That is something I’d like my colleagues and clients to understand — just how hard I work for my goals. Now that I have reached the Olympics, my new goal is finding the perfect home for my clients.

Brett Fraser | Credit: Compass

Name: Brett Fraser

Brokerage: Compass

Team country: Cayman Islands

Sporting event: Swimming, Men’s 50m Freestyle

Fraser was born and raised in the Cayman Islands, and studied finance and economics at the University of Florida. Tokyo is his third Olympic Games, having competed in the Men’s 200m Backstroke in 2008 in Beijing, and the 50m, 100m and 200m Freestyle in London’s 2012 Olympics. In Tokyo, Fraser competed in the Men’s 50m Freestyle, placing second in heat 6 out of 10. He was also one of Cayman Islands’ flag bearers at the Olympics Opening Ceremony. In addition to the Olympics, Fraser has also competed in swimming world championships and the Pan American Games.

Fraser’s also not the only Olympian swimmer in his family — his older brother, Shaune, also competed in the Olympics for the Cayman Islands in 2004, 2008 and 2012. In 2011, the brothers won the silver (Shaune) and gold (Brett) medals for the 200m freestyle at the Pan American Games.

Best thing about being an Olympian: Sharing the nature of elite competition with other individuals who have spent the majority of their lives refining their craft. The Olympic Village is a special place where athletes at their peak create an inimitable energy that you can’t find anywhere else.

Best thing about being a real estate agent: Being honored with the opportunity to assist clients with one of the most important decisions of their lives. Advising a client in their decision to purchase a property in which they will spend significant amounts of time and create invaluable memories is an amazing part of the job.

What’s one thing you wish your real estate colleagues understood about being an Olympic athlete?

Similar to assisting clients, the significant effort and dedication necessary to close deals is analogous to that of training for and competing in the Olympics. Commitment to training, persistence, dedication and attention to detail are paramount attributes that are vital to succeeding as both an athlete and an agent.

Credit: eXp Realty

Honorable mention: Martin Grodzki

Brokerage: The Wehner Group at eXp Realty

Team country: USA

Sporting event: Husband to Hali Flickinger, bronze medalist in the Tokyo women’s 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley

Best thing about being the spouse of an Olympian: Seeing your best friend and partner in life inspire tens of thousands of young athletes around the world. Especially someone like Hali who is on the [physically] smaller side for the sport and who was not naturally gifted with god-given talent. She has overcome her physical shortcomings, so to speak, through incredible hard work and extreme dedication.

Best thing about being a real estate agent: Helping clients with most likely their biggest financial decision of their lives. I know that the process can be difficult, frustrating, and overwhelming especially if you are going through it for the first time. But seeing the joy in my clients when everything goes smoothly and they end up in their dream home is so rewarding.

What’s one thing you wish your real estate colleagues understood about having an Olympian as a spouse?

Honestly my colleagues have been nothing short of amazing with the support we have received during the last few months. Both at Olympic Trials and then the actual Olympic Games after. There are a lot of sacrifices that need to be made to compete at such a high level but none of which are anything that we wouldn’t do 100 times over.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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Lillian Dickerson <![CDATA[Annual apartment rent growth, occupancy hit new highs in July]]> 2021-08-05T18:50:52Z 2021-08-05T18:50:52Z The new highs surpassed records set between 2000 and 2001. As of July, the average monthly apartment rent in the U.S. hit $1,549.

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The apartment industry is bouncing back after a tough year-and-a-half, and new records set in July for annual apartment rent growth and occupancy levels have solidified the trend, according to a report from real estate software and data analytics company RealPage.

Effective asking rents rose 2.2 percent from June to July, and 8.3 percent year over year, blowing past growth records set between 2000 and 2001. As of July, the average monthly apartment rent in the U.S. hit $1,549.

One of the driving forces behind the unprecedented rent growth is record-high apartment occupancy levels. Apartment occupancy in the U.S. hit 96.9 percent in July, surpassing the past previous record high of 96.5 percent set in 2000.

The apartment market has likely hit a peak, the report noted, since leasing activity typically slows down at the end of the third quarter and apartment owners often respond with cooler pricing.

Rent growth in July was fairly widespread, with annual growth in effective asking rents rising over 10 percent in 65 out of 150 of the country’s largest metro areas. In 22 metros, annual rent price growth clocked in at 15 percent or more.

Boise, Idaho, saw the greatest gains, with rent increasing 24.2 percent year over year. But out of those metros with the greatest number of apartment units (with at least 100,000 units), Phoenix saw the greatest annual rent growth at 21.6 percent, followed by West Palm Beach, Florida; Las Vegas; and Tampa, Florida, where rent grew about 19 percent year over year.

Likewise, markets that saw rent cuts in 2020 are now seeing annual growth once again: Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles all saw effective asking rents increase between 4 and 5 percent year over year, while Seattle, Washington, D.C., Newark/Jersey City, New Jersey, and Oakland, California, also saw annual rents grow between 2 to 3 percent from the previous year.

Annual rent growth continues to be negative in San Francisco (-5.9 percent), San Jose (-2.1 percent) and New York (-1.6 percent), however.

Smaller markets hit the greatest occupancy levels, aided by lower populations and less construction. For instance, apartment occupancy was at 99 percent or higher in Salisbury, Maryland; Allentown, Pennsylvania; and Eugene, Oregon.

Some larger metros like Providence, Rhode Island; Riverside/San Bernardino, San Diego and Anaheim, California; and Virginia Beach, Virginia, however, are not far behind that, with occupancy levels in July at 98 percent or higher.

Midland/Odessa (89.2 percent occupancy) and College Station/Bryan, Texas (92.7 percent) saw the lowest occupancy rates during July.

Email Lillian Dickerson

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Daniel Houston <![CDATA[Groups seize on Biden’s skepticism in lawsuit against new eviction ban]]> 2021-08-05T18:15:28Z 2021-08-05T18:15:28Z Real estate groups leveraged President Joe Biden's comments earlier this week about the new moratorium's chances of surviving in court.

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An Alabama real estate group is leading the charge against the federal government’s latest eviction moratorium as the White House continues to buy time for struggling renters and disburse funds to landlords

The Alabama Association of Realtors and other groups on Wednesday filed a lawsuit that takes aim at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest directive to ban evictions in areas with high levels of coronavirus spread. 

In the filing, the group argues the Supreme Court had already ruled against a previous moratorium extending beyond July. It also highlights President Joe Biden’s own public statements where he expressed skepticism that a new moratorium could stand up to judicial scrutiny.

The CDC extended the moratorium, the lawsuit argues, “for nakedly political reasons—to ease the political pressure, shift the blame to the courts for ending the moratorium, and use litigation delays to achieve a policy objective.” 

The latest moratorium adds a new wrinkle that CDC officials hope will help it fare better against legal challenges. The new ban on evictions is billed primarily as a public health measure to keep people in their homes, and will apply only to areas with high levels of coronavirus spread. Still, the protections would apply to the vast majority of renters.

Shortly before the CDC announced the new ban earlier this week, Biden expressed his own doubts about whether the new moratorium would stand up to judicial scrutiny.

“The bulk of the constitutional scholarship says that it’s not likely to pass constitutional muster,” Biden said Tuesday in a news conference. “But there are several key scholars who think that it may, and it’s worth the effort.”

As the new ban makes its way through the courts, the administration is hoping states can make more progress getting federal funding for back rent into the hands of landlords. The funding was approved in previous COVID-19 relief bills, but the program has been slow to roll out in some states.

“At a minimum, by the time it gets litigated, it will probably give some additional time while we’re getting that $45 billion out to people who are, in fact, behind on the rent and don’t have the money,” Biden said.

The Alabama Association of Realtors used the president’s words in their filing the next day, arguing they were evidence the administration was merely stalling while going against the spirit of the Supreme Court’s ruling in June.

“Indeed, the White House’s announcement on July 29 that the CDC would not—and could not lawfully—extend the eviction moratorium received a massive blowback from Capitol Hill,” the group said in its lawsuit. “Facing extraordinary political pressure, the CDC finally caved by issuing the August 3 extension with minor tweaks but no new source of legal authority.”

The trade group’s lawsuit comes as millions of renters remain behind on rent and landlords have expressed frustration at the limited options available to them under a new moratorium.

Read the complete lawsuit filing below.

Email Daniel Houston

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Libertina Brandt <![CDATA[Lazy homesellers are skipping repairs and cashing out — for now]]> 2021-08-05T15:27:57Z 2021-08-05T15:27:57Z Thanks to high demand and low supply, sellers don't have to do much to their homes to attract buyers — and often don't. But that could change, real estate agents told Inman.

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In today’s seller’s market, buyers are opting to purchase homes as-is.

Brian Rudderow, a real estate investor who flips properties in New Jersey, Florida, Colorado and Pennsylvania, recently listed a Jersey home that needed around $30,000 worth of repairs. It had an all-cash offer in 24 hours.

Brian Rudderow

“The market is extremely overinflated right now and sellers can get away with listing homes that need work while still selling them at full market value,” he wrote to Inman. “It’s pretty ridiculous what’s going on but that’s the state of what we’re dealing with. If sellers can simply clean up their house and make it look semi-livable it will sell fast with no issues.”

While there have been early signs of cooling, the housing market is still overly competitive. In June, Redfin reported that 65 percent of offers written by their agents faced bidding wars. That same month, the National Association of Realtors found that the median existing-home price in the U.S. hit $363,300, the highest on record and the 112th month straight of year-over-year home price gains.

Because homes are flying off the market for outlandish prices, sellers aren’t putting much TLC into their properties before listing them. 

Erin Madden, a Realtor in Boise, Idaho, told Inman that most sellers are skipping repairs because they know they’ll get at or over the asking price without making them.  

Erin Madden

“The market here is such that the median home value has increased 40 percent year over year due to a critically low inventory and a mass migration of people from surrounding states,” Madden wrote to Inman. “The need to stage a home is minimal to none, the need for cosmetic repairs is non-existent. Buyers are almost forced to overlook cosmetic and minor issues when trying to purchase homes.”

Aaron Mighty, founder of Florida-based Mighty Realty, recently convinced a client to list their townhouse without making $10,000 worth of repairs. While the client was hesitant at first, the home received multiple offers the first weekend it was on the market. 

“We had planned to get the carpets cleaned during that first weekend, too, but canceled that after the showings started coming in,” he told Inman over email. “New townhome construction can actually be purchased just a few blocks away starting at $10,000 more so that goes to show that buyers aren’t deterred by an older home either. They just want a home period!”

In addition to buying homes as-is, Madden told Inman that buyers are waiving inspections or signing contracts that state the inspection is for the buyer’s information only, a trend that has been solidifying across the country for several months. 

Buyers are even forfeiting appraisals, according to Redfin and agents who spoke with Inman.

“Lenders require an appraisal, so when buyers waive that contingency, it just means that they promise to pay the difference if the appraisal is lower than their offer,” a real estate professional told the Post. “If they can’t pay the cash, they can lose their earnest money deposit. Sometimes the buyers will write in a specific amount that they will pay to make up the gap, such as up to $10,000.”

This seller’s market won’t last forever

Looking ahead, the housing market has been showing early signs of cooling, which means sky-high prices will eventually float back down to earth. According to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau, sales of newly built homes in June were the lowest since the onset of the pandemic. 

While sellers can get away with not doing cosmetic repairs right now, Madden warns that the bigger maintenance issues, like roof replacements or leaks, should be addressed.

Not only can bigger repairs chip away at the sale price, but a seller runs the risk of losing time on the market if the prospective buyer terminates the deal.

Rick Abbiati

“At this point, as we start to cool down, if you lose time on market because someone does an inspection and decides they don’t want to take on that cost, then you could be shooting yourself in the foot,” Madden said.

Rick Abbiati, owner of Colony Property Investments, LLC, explained that while sellers can get away with doing the bare minimum, they should put some thought into the decision because repairs could mean a higher return on investment.

“Yes the market is hot, however if you want your property to be at the top of the pile in terms of consideration, then make it nice,” he said. “Regardless of market temperature, when a buyer is looking at one home that is move-in ready and one that is a dump, they will pick the move-in ready home most of the time.”

Current listings are lacking visuals

Not only are sellers ditching repairs, but there isn’t much effort being put into the visual representation of listings either.

A recent study by BoxBrownie, a real estate image enhancement company, revealed that the majority of listings on the market right now lack good visual marketing.

As Inman previously reported, the study looked at over 25,000 U.S. listings on Zillow and from March 2021 to June 2021 and found that 94 percent of them didn’t offer virtual tours and only 16 percent included a floor plan.

“It’s fairly safe to assume that right now agents are cutting corners on visual marketing for listings because of the speed of sales right now,” BoxBrownie general manager Peter Schravemade said.

But listings that focus on virtual marketing are bound to catch more eyes than those that don’t, regardless of the state of the market.

“We have found that buyers are more receptive to listings when they have professional photography, virtual tours, and floor plans,” said Vanessa Bergmark, CEO of California-based Red Oak Realty, in a statement. “Homes that offer these features to prospective buyers almost always sell quicker than those that do not.”

Email Libertina Brandt

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