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Real Estate in Brief: Sight-unseen offers decrease, Zillow names new head of federal government relations and more

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Less homebuyers are making purchases on sights-unseen, according to Redfin. In a recent survey, only 20 percent of recent homebuyers made an offer sight-unseen compared to the 35 percent in 2017.

In May, Redfin analysts noticed sight-unseen offers returned to 2016 levels. Due to rising inventory and slow price growth through the summer, buyers were able to have more options and made less hasty decisions. Since buyers are facing less competition, they have more time to visit a property before making an offer.

Redfin analysts said the decrease reflects the changing market. However, one in five homebuyers still make an offer sight-unseen. The brokerage credited the use of technology that allows potential buyers to see the property without physically being there. Some agents use tools like Facetime, Skype or YouTube to show homes for buyers who may not be able to visit the property.

In other real estate news:

  • Kevin Wingert, senior legislative representative at NAR, is leaving to join Zillow as their head of federal government relations. Wingert’s new role will work with federal government agencies to represent Zillow’s public policy interests. “Wingert is a total pro and his understanding of the real estate industry alongside his strong and positive reputation within D.C. circles made him the right choice for us,” a Zillow spokesperson said.
  • A significant increase of homes experienced a price cut in August 2018, according to recently published data by Trulia. In the report, Trulia analysts reported 17 percent of U.S. listings had a price cut, a 1 percent increase compared to 2017. But Felipe Chacon, Trulia housing economist, said not everyone will benefit equally. “Price reductions typically aren’t uniformly spread out across a given city — some neighborhoods might have a lot of listings with a reduced price, other may have none.” In the United States, 63 out of 100 metros had a year-over-year increase, but West Coast markets saw some of the largest year-over-year price cuts in August.
  • Americans love having a big yard. HomeAdvisor studied residential laws, determining who gets a more bang for their buck. The biggest lawns can be found in Vermont and Montana, ranking over 70,000 square feet or an acre and a half. The smallest yards can be found to Arizona, California and Nevada residents, averaging around less than 6,500 square feet. For those who want something in between, they may want to consider looking into Kansas, Missouri or Pennsylvania homes. Lawns in these three states average less than 11,000 square feet.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae announced they will be launching Mortgage Translations — a clearinghouse of online resources serving limited English proficient borrowers. The first phase of the launch consists of Spanish-language documents. According to the Census Bureau, those who speak Spanish as their primary language compromise more than 60 percent of the LEP population. Four more languages are planned, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog being added in the next few years. “FHFA is proud to collaborate with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and so many others on this important initiative to help address language barriers that impede access to mortgage credit,” Janell Byrd-Chichester, FHFA’s chief of staff, said.

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