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Latest proposal effectively ditches QRM requirements for loans

The six federal agencies tasked with coming up with a definition of a Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) have floated another proposal — one that would essentially do away with the QRM definition altogether.

To understand what that means, we need a bit of background, which economist Bill McBride was happy to give, and which I will happily translate.

When it was created, the Dodd-Frank Act had two goals (among others):

1. Protect consumers from predatory lenders

2. Protect investors (notably taxpayers) from unknowingly buying risky loans

Fight the "craigslist scam"

coverAppearing at your doorstep any moment now will be the August/September issue of Commonwealth, with a cover story all about the scams and cons targeting Realtors and real estate. (Hint: You don’t wanna miss it.)

ANYWAY…

Special legal video: Protecting your listings from rental scams

On listing scrapers, copyright, and MLSs

“Industry Cracks Down on Listing Scraping” is the headline of the Realtor magazine story. The gist of it:

Realtor.com said earlier this year that it is making efforts to block automated bots from trying to scrape listing data from its more than 1 million pages per day.

“Scraping happens every day, and it’s something that’s surprisingly inexpensive for cybercriminals to do,” Amit Kulkarni, Move’s creative director, said in a blog post detailing realtor.com’s efforts to curb scraping.

This is actually interesting, but not for the reasons you — and possible Realtor mag — might think.

New NAR survey finds that Americans support home ownership

A new survey from NAR found that consumers are upbeat about housing. They "overwhelmingly believe that buying a home is a good financial decision," and they consider owning a home to be a top priority.

The Housing Pulse Survey found that 80 percent of Americans believe it’s a good idea to buy a home, and that half of renters now consider home ownership "one of their highest personal priorities."

There’s more. Check out the full survey results over at Realtor.org.

Big changes at Realtor.com

imageRealtor.com will soon be changing to better compete with the likes of Trulia, Zillow, and other real estate listing aggregators. That’s the result of a nearly unanimous vote of the NAR board of directors, which has seen Realtor.com’s market share erode in the face of third parties.

The "new" Realtor.com will now…

Proposal would end door-to-door US Mail service

imageCongressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is proposing that the U.S Postal Service end door-to-door delivery in favor of neighborhood "cluster boxes" — the kind you might see in a condo complex.

Issa says the change could save the Post Office $4.5 billion a year.

(Contrary to popular belief, the USPS does not receive federal funding. All its money comes from postage and delivery sales and services.)

Cordray confirmed to head CFPB

Back in February we told you not to worry about Richard Cordray’s appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (There was some concern that if wasn’t confirmed, we’d be back in limbo in terms of mortgage requirements, and that would play havoc with the housing recovery.)

Call for action: Tax reform is in the works

There’s a big deal going on in the Senate regarding tax reform.

The Senate Finance Committee has decided that the easiest way to change the tax code is to start with a blank slate — that is, start with no deductions at all, then add in the ones that are most important.

Unfortunately, in the post-Citizens United era, "most important" could easily become "what most big businesses want," rather than "what’s best for the country." Which is why NAR wants to be sure that tax incentives for homeowners — notably the mortgage interest deduction, property tax deduction, and capital gains exclusions — are at the top of the list.

Virginia slips to #5 on "Top States for Business" list

CNBC’s annual list of "America’s Top States for Business" is out, and Virginia has slipped further — now we’re down to number five (tied with Utah). After finishing first for three years (2007, 2009, and 2011), we dropped to third place last year, and dropped further in 2013.

  1. South Dakota
  2. Texas
  3. North Dakota
  4. Nebraska
  5. Utah, Virginia

Why? CNBC ranked the states by a number of criteria, essentially boiling down to "where is it cheapest and easiest to have a business." So "cost of doing business" — taxes, utilities, wages, and real estate — is high on the list, and that was our first big stumbling block.