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US housing starts rebounded in June

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US housing starts rebounded in June 2017 as homebuilders ramped up construction

WASHINGTON/July 19, 2017 (AP)(STLRealEstate.News) — Home-builders ramped up construction in June to the fastest pace in four months, led by surges in the Northeast and Midwest.

Housing starts climbed 8.3 percent in June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.22 million, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. The gain ended three straight monthly declines and marked the strongest pace of building since February. Home construction has risen 3.9 percent year-to-date, but that slight increase has been unable to make up for the decrease in existing homes being listed for sale.

The June housing figures point to healthy demand that new construction alone has been unable to satisfy.

Fewer existing homes are being listed for sale, while purchase prices for newly built homes have surged at pace more than six times wage growth. As a result, more Americans are rushing to purchase homes but are struggling to do so because of a lack of supplies and higher costs.

Builders also face higher costs for land and materials, putting a limit on just how much construction can occur.

“Steady gains in construction are expected over the next year, supported by still-strong fundamental demand for housing,” said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets. “But acting as a bit of a roadblock are problems that the builders face: rising lumber costs, and shortages of labor and lots to build on, which will boost pricing.”

So far this year, builders have turned their attention toward single-family houses and away from rental apartments. Starts of single-family houses have risen 7.9 percent, while construction of multi-family buildings has slipped 4.2 percent.

Housing starts jumped a stunning 83.7 percent in the Northeast and 22 percent in the Midwest, growth that is unlikely to be sustained. The government’s home construction report can be volatile on a monthly basis. Sales edged up in the West but declined in the South.

Building permits, an indicator of future construction, were up 7.4 percent to 1.25 million.
Construction firms are confident that demand will continue, but they have also begun to temper their expectations.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index fell to 64 in July, the lowest level since November. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor.

The median price of a new home sold in May rose 16.8 percent from a year ago to a record $345,800. Prices have been increasing as demand has outstripped supply of new homes, in part because of a shortage of available building lots.


By JOSH BOAK, AP Economics Writer

New American Funding Opens New Branch in Clayton, Missouri

New American Funding Opens New Branch in Clayton, Missouri

Clayton, Missouri/July 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — New American Funding, a leader in the mortgage industry, is continuing its Midwest expansion with the grand opening of another Missouri location. This newest branch will be in Clayton, Missouri, and will celebrate with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, July 20, 2017, at 4 P.M. CT.

The branch will be a full-service home loan provider located at 8000 Maryland Ave., Suite 1250, Clayton, MO. This retail location will meet the needs of local mortgage consumers by offering a complete spectrum of purchase and refinance options with a special concentration on the jumbo loan market.

Brandon and Megan Smith will be Co-Branch Managers for Clayton, collectively bringing 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry to this location. Most recently Megan was a top-producing originator with an independent mortgage company while Brandon has been with New American Funding since 2014 as a Senior Mortgage Banker. Jointly, they’ll work to increase loan volume and build a sales team.

“New American Funding has a strong operational system and second-to-none technology that make it easier for originators to close loans and provide excellent customer service,” said Megan. “I’ve truly found my home.”

“The people make the difference,” said Brandon. “New American Funding’s culture of helping one another is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. We’re eager to take this opportunity and grow the region.”

The housing demand, along with Clayton’s demographic, presented an ideal opportunity for market expansion. “We’re excited to have Brandon and Megan leading the charge in Clayton,” said Hamid Hamrah, Regional VP. “They’re both extremely talented professionals who have extensive mortgage knowledge and they’re well connected in the community.”

The company has additional locations in Lee’s Summit, Nixa, St. Louis, and St. Robert. For more information about this grand opening celebration, contact Megan Smith at (314) 221-6219 or [email protected]

About New American Funding
New American Funding is a national mortgage banker licensed in 48 states with 130+ branch locations that offer a variety of home loan options including: Conventional, FHA, Cash Out, Fixed Rate and Adjustable Rate Mortgages, VA, HARP 2.0, Jumbo, and Reverse Mortgages. The company is a Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae Direct Seller/Servicer, FHA Direct Endorsement, and VA Automatic mortgage lender.

SOURCE: New American Funding

Fortress to Acquire Colony American Finance, LLC

Fortress to Acquire Colony American Finance, LLC

NEW YORK,/July 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Colony American Finance, LLC (“CAF”) today announced that certain funds (“Fortress Funds”) managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLC (NYSE: FIG) have purchased the equity and substantially all of the assets of CAF. Terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

Simultaneously with the purchase, Fortress Funds will rebrand the CAF operating platform under the name CoreVest American Finance Lender LLC (“CoreVest”). CAF was launched in 2014 to address the unique financing needs of residential real estate investors and has successfully grown into the market leader, having closed over $2.8 billion in loans since its inception. The Fortress Funds will be joined by the current senior management team of CAF in launching CoreVest. The senior management team will remain with the company and retain their current titles.

Beth O’Brien, Chief Executive Officer of CAF who is now CEO of CoreVest, said, “We are excited to bring the same team and the same approach to the market under the CoreVest brand. Our customers will continue to work with our people and experience our high level of service, while also benefiting from the strategic capital brought by the Fortress Funds.”

“We see terrific synergies between CoreVest and Fortress,” added Christopher Hoeffel, Chief Financial Officer of CoreVest. “The new relationship with the Fortress Funds, given their experience in the specialty finance area, will allow us to expand our market leading position in the growing, yet underserved, single-family rental finance market.”

Ryan McBride, Chief Operating Officer of CoreVest, noted, “We believe our opportunity for growth is especially strong given the demographic tailwinds for housing in the U.S. This transaction will enable us to provide scalable debt capital and innovative financing products to our investor clients.”

Freeman and Co. and Latham & Watkins LLP advised affiliates of Colony NorthStar managed funds, Sidley Austin LLP advised the Fortress Funds and Dechert LLP advised the management team.

About CoreVest American Finance Lender LLC
CoreVest is a specialty finance company that provides a range of debt products to residential real estate investors. The company offers portfolio and single-asset term loans for stabilized rental properties as well as short-term credit lines for acquisitions. Founded in 2014 as Colony American Finance, the Company has financed over 20,000 properties and closed over $2.8 billion in loans. Its products are tailor-made for investors and it provides attractive rates, rapid timelines and closing certainty. The company works directly with borrowers as well as with brokers and correspondent partners. For more information, visit

SOURCE: CoreVest American Finance Lender LLC

Commercial Real Estate Platform Truss and Immersive Media Technology Company Matterport Partner to Improve the Office Search Process

Commercial Real Estate Platform Truss and Immersive Media Technology Company Matterport Partner to Improve the Office Search Process

CHICAGO and SUNNYVALE, Calif./July 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Today Commercial Real Estate (CRE) platform Truss and immersive media and virtual reality (VR) pioneer Matterport announced their partnership to provide commercial tenants with a completely new form of immersive 3D media when touring office spaces remotely on the Truss platform. With Matterport’s state of the art technology, Truss customers will be able to experience full 3D models of properties and understand exactly what it’s like to be inside a space. With the partnership in place, Matterport’s Service Partner network of over 2,500 photographers will scan more than 2,500 additional listings.

“Our partnership with Matterport is essentially changing how people can visualize commercial properties,” said Thomas Smith, co-founder of Truss. “Spending time to physically visit office spaces that may or may not be a match is no longer the only option to search for office space. Thanks to Matterport’s sophisticated technology, we can now bring the space to tenants.”

Matterport’s new Pro2 camera offers DSLR-quality photos in addition to 3D virtual tours, VR experiences and dimensionally accurate floor plans. With the new partnership, Truss is utilizing all of the many outputs that can be created from one camera, allowing office seekers to navigate spaces and walk through them as if physically present. By providing complete information about a property in an immersive, online format, tenants shorten the deal cycle significantly.

“We’re excited to partner with Truss as they pioneer innovative ways to help companies search for office space,” said Bill Brown, CEO of Matterport. “Our end-to-end solution automates the process of capturing and creating immersive walk-throughs, enabling forward-thinking companies like Truss to deliver a superior experience to their customers.”

Today, less than 10 percent of commercial listings include an interior photo of the property and less than 50 percent have complete pricing. The Truss platform transforms the experience and empowers office seekers with total cost of occupancy, dimensioned floor plans and interior details at the very beginning of the search process.

About Truss
Truss simplifies the process of finding and renting office space. Its web and mobile platform enables businesses to go from search to lease with ease. More information about Truss and how to lease office space is available at

About Matterport
Headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, Matterport is an immersive media technology company that delivers an end-to-end system for creating, modifying, distributing, and navigating immersive 3D and virtual reality (VR) versions of real-world spaces on Web, mobile devices, and VR headsets. The Matterport Pro Camera and Cloud Services make it quick and easy to turn real-world places into immersive virtual experiences.  More information about Matterport is available at

SOURCE: Matterport

Gen X Homeowners Lag Behind in Building Equity, Showing Scars from Housing Crash

Gen X Homeowners Lag Behind in Building Equity, Showing Scars from Housing Crash

SEATTLE/ July 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Gen X homeowners bore the brunt of the housing crash, and it still shows a decade later as they lag behind in gaining equity in their homes, according to the new Zillow Home Equity Report.

Millennials have almost as much equity as the older Gen X homeowners, despite having had much less time to gain equity.

The Zillow Equity Report for the first quarter of 2017 tracks the home equity of more than 50 million homeowners who have a mortgage. The report, which will be released twice a year, tracks the debt that U.S. homeowners are carrying on their homes by age and location.

Highlights from the report:

  • The median homeowner with a mortgage has $78,683 in home equity. Homeowners who own their homes outright typically have $177,158 in home equity.
  • The median homeowner has a loan-to-value ratio of 62.2, or owes 62.2 percent of their home’s current value.
  • 75.7 percent of homeowners have at least 20 percent equity in their homes, enough to cover the costs of selling or refinancing their home.
  • Five percent of mortgaged homeowners are close to owning their homes free and clear.

10.4 percent of mortgaged homeowners have negative equity. In the first quarter of 2012, 31.4 percent of homeowners were underwater.

Among mortgaged homeowners, the typical millennial (less than 35 years old) owes the bank about 76 percent of their home’s current value. The median Gen X (35 to 50 years old) homeowner owes 70 percent of their home’s value. Boomers (50-65 years old) owe about 56 percent of their home’s value, and silent generation (65 and older) homeowners with a mortgage owe 45 percent.

“Roughly half of American wealth is held in home equity,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “Paying off the home mortgage is a key step toward retirement for most Americans, and it’s clear from these results that Generation X is further from that goal than older generations because of the Great Recession. The good news is that home values are still growing relatively fast in most places, building up home equity for homeowners who rely on the investment they’ve made in their home.”

The difference in how much Gen X homeowners owe on their home loans is an example of how uneven the housing recovery has been across the country.

In Baltimore, which has seen a sluggish recovery, Gen X owners with a mortgage owe a median of 79 percent of their homes’ value. In Chicago, where homes are still 15 percent below the highs reached during the bubble, Gen X homeowners owe 77.3 percent of their homes’ value.

Gen X homeowners are doing particularly well in the Bay Area, where home values have grown about 75 percent over the past five years. San Jose is the only metro where mortgaged Gen X homeowners owe less than half of their homes’ value, and San Francisco homeowners are not far behind, owing 51.4 percent of their homes’ worth.

Zillow® is the leading real estate and rental marketplace dedicated to empowering consumers with data, inspiration and knowledge around the place they call home, and connecting them with the best local professionals who can help. In addition, Zillow operates an industry-leading economics and analytics bureau led by Zillow’s Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. Dr. Gudell and her team of economists and data analysts produce extensive housing data and research covering more than 450 markets at Zillow Real Estate Research. Zillow also sponsors the quarterly Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey, which asks more than 100 leading economists, real estate experts and investment and market strategists to predict the path of the Zillow Home Value Index over the next five years. Launched in 2006, Zillow is owned and operated by Zillow Group (NASDAQ: Z and ZG), and headquartered in Seattle.
Zillow is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc.

SOURCE: Zillow

Cities Where Rent Prices Are Increasing the Most

Cities Where Rent Prices Are Increasing the Most

LOS ANGELES/ July 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — It’s no secret that where you live greatly affects how much you pay in rent. What’s less known is that where you live can affect how much your rent will rise from one year to the next.
In a recent study, researchers for personal finance news and features website GOBankingRates reviewed median rental price data from May 2016 and May 2017 in select cities to determine the year-over-year change in dollars for a single-bedroom residence. The data was sourced and pulled from Zillow in June 2017.

U.S. Cities Where Rent Prices Are Increasing the Most
Marina del Rey, Calif.: +$441.50
Medford, Mass.: +$405
Jersey City, N.J.: +$285
Columbia, Md.: +$277
Corona, Calif.: +$273.50

U.S. Cities Where Rent Has Decreased the Most
Bronxville, N.Y.: – $475
Buffalo, N.Y.: – $355
San Francisco: – $226
Walnut Creek, Calif.: – $225
Danbury, Conn.: – $217

About GOBankingRates is a personal finance news and features website dedicated to helping visitors live a richer life. From tips on saving money to investing for retirement or finding a good interest rate, GOBankingRates helps turn financial goals into milestones and money dreams into realities. Its content is regularly featured on top-tier media outlets, including MSN, MONEY, AOL Finance, CBS MoneyWatch, Business Insider and dozens of others. GOBankingRates specializes in connecting consumers with the financial institutions and products that best match their needs. Start your journey toward a rich mind and full wallet with us here.

SOURCE: GOBankingRates



Focus Healthcare Partners LLC Seeks to Invest $900 Million into Senior Housing Properties

Focus Healthcare Partners LLC Seeks to Invest $900 Million into Senior Housing Properties

CHICAGO/ July 17, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Focus Healthcare Partners LLC (“Focus”), a Chicago-based private real estate investment firm targeting the senior housing sector, announced today the closing of its first discretionary investment fund, Focus Senior Housing Fund I LP. This $312 million private equity fund will target senior housing properties providing private pay independent living, assisted living and memory care services to senior citizens across the continental United States. Utilizing moderate levels of institutional debt, the fund expects to invest approximately $900 million into senior housing assets over the next several years.

Focus was formed in 2009 by its founding Principals, Paul A. Froning and Curt P. Schaller. Since its formation, Focus successfully acquired senior housing assets nationwide in partnership with several institutional investors. “Senior Housing represents one of the most compelling sectors in the United States,” Mr. Schaller noted, “with its clear and compelling demographic story and high levels of fragmentation, we see significant opportunities to acquire properties at attractive risk adjusted returns.”

“We are fortunate to have developed relationships with investors who share our vision for investing in Senior Housing,” Mr. Froning noted. “We have built our success by focusing first and foremost on how we can improve the resident experience,” Mr. Froning continued, “with aggressive asset management and physical improvement to the properties we acquire, we aim to maximize quality of life for seniors and increase the value our properties afford them.”

While the formation of this investment fund represents its first comingled discretionary investment vehicle, the firm has previously created investment partnerships with highly respected institutional investors throughout the country. Through these earlier vehicles, Focus has invested more than $400 million to date into senior housing assets in the U.S. The expansion of its capital base in its latest fund was accomplished via the strong support of public pension plan investors, university endowment funds, public insurance companies, and other well respected institutional limited partners.

SOURCE: Focus Healthcare Partners LLC

Home Sales on the Rise in Western Pa.

Home Sales on the Rise in Western Pa.

PITTSBURGH/ July 17, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Home sales in the region are increasing according to West Penn Multi-List, Inc. and its monthly residential real estate report.

“We are selling more houses and at a somewhat higher price compared to last year,” said Ron Croushore, current president of West Penn Multi-List, Inc., and owner and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices The Preferred Realty, Pittsburgh. “At this half-way point in the year, the market is stable, and sales continue to be strong.”

When comparing January-June 2017 with the same time period in 2016

Closed sales are up 3.24 percent (13,682 units in 2017 versus 13,252 in 2016);
Closed sales volume is up 5.34 percent ($2,441,128,758 in 2017 versus $2,317,284,476 in 2016);
Average sale price is up 2.03 percent ($178,419 in 2017 versus $174,863 in 2016); and
Home listings are down 0.28 percent (18,433 units in 2017 versus 18,485 in 2016).

“The current challenge is replenishing the number of homes for sale quickly enough to keep up with buyers’ demand,” said Croushore.

Statistical data in this report is supplied by West Penn Multi-List, Inc., the definitive source for real estate information for its 17-county service area – Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Cambria, Clarion, Crawford, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mercer, Somerset, Venango, Washington and Westmoreland counties. For more information, visit

SOURCE: West Penn Multi-List, Inc.

Sotheby’s International Realty Brand Enters Roatán

Sotheby's International Realty Brand Enters Roatán

MADISON, N.J. and ROATÁN, Honduras/July 17, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC today announced the brand’s expansion in the Caribbean with the opening of Roatán Sotheby’s International Realty on the island of Roatán off the coast of Honduras.

Roatán Sotheby’s International Realty, led by Owner Matt Camron and Operations Manager Micheline Dupont, will serve the luxury residential real estate market throughout Roatán and the neighboring Caribbean Bay Islands of Utila and Guanaja.

“Roatán is an attractive second home market offering residents tranquil Caribbean living and a preeminent level of privacy,” said Philip White, president and chief executive officer of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC. “We are proud to have the brand represented in this region by Roatán Sotheby’s International Realty.”

According to Camron, the Sotheby’s International Realty® brand provides unrivaled access to qualified buyers around the world. “Our mission at Roatán Sotheby’s International Realty is to create long-term relationships with our clients by offering the best real estate experience possible through our full-service approach,” he said. “The Caribbean Bay Islands are a hidden gem of pristine beaches, world class diving and lush forests. We are delighted to share our special part of the world with global clientele.”

The Sotheby’s International Realty network currently has more than 20,000 affiliated independent sales associates located in approximately 880 offices in 69 countries and territories worldwide. In 2016, the brand achieved a record global sales volume of $95 billion USD.  Roatán Sotheby’s International Realty listings will be marketed on the global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the firm’s brokers and clients will benefit from an association with the Sotheby’s auction house and worldwide Sotheby’s International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.

About Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC
Founded in 1976 to provide independent brokerages with a powerful marketing and referral program for luxury listings, the Sotheby’s International Realty network was designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. In February 2004, Realogy entered into a long-term strategic alliance with Sotheby’s, the operator of the auction house. The agreement provided for the licensing of the Sotheby’s International Realty name and the development of a full franchise system. Affiliations in the system are granted only to brokerages and individuals meeting strict qualifications. Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC supports its affiliates with a host of operational, marketing, recruiting, educational and business development resources. Franchise affiliates also benefit from an association with the venerable Sotheby’s auction house, established in 1744. For more information, visit

SOURCE: Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC

Consumers Energy Named a ‘Most Trusted Brand’ Among Nation’s Electric, Natural Gas Providers

Consumers Energy Named a 'Most Trusted Brand' Among Nation's Electric, Natural Gas Providers

JACKSON, Mich./ July 17, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — An independent national survey has named Consumers Energy as a “Most Trusted Brand,” ranking it fourth in the nation among providers of electricity and natural gas among residential customers.

“We are focused on delivering an exceptional customer experience to the 6.7 million Michigan residents who count on us for electricity and natural gas every day for their homes or businesses,” said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy’s president and chief executive officer. “We feel honored that our customers are telling us we are doing well, and we will strive to do even better as we look to the future.”

The new results were released by Cogent Reports, a division of Market Strategies International, and are based on residential customer surveys. Forty-four energy utilities nationally were named as “Most Trusted Brands.”

Consumers Energy this spring also was ranked as Michigan’s best place to work by Forbes magazine and was recognized in Michigan and nationally for its commitment to providing job opportunities for military veterans.

“Our commitment to our triple bottom line of people, planet and profit means that we keep our promises to our customers, communities, co-workers and shareholders,” Poppe said.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy (NYSE: CMS), providing natural gas and electricity to 6.7 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

For more information about Consumers Energy, go to
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SURVEY RESULTS: See Cogent Reports’ 2017 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential study:

BEST EMPLOYER: Forbes magazine named Consumers Energy as Michigan’s best place to work:
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SOURCE: Consumers Energy