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HomeASAP Named a 2017 BizTech Award Winner for Technological Innovation

HomeASAP Named a 2017 BizTech Award Winner for Technological Innovation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla./ Sept. 19, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Real estate technology company, HomeASAP (https://homeasap.com/) has been named a 2017 BizTech Award winner by the Jacksonville Business Journal. The awards honor Northeast Florida-based businesses that are on the cutting edge of creating, using and selling technology, that have demonstrated a strong record of innovation and outstanding performance over the past year.

HomeASAP creates software that is used by real estate agents to market themselves online, with emphasis on Facebook. Its suite of applications and services for agents include the Real Estate Agent Directorysm on Facebook, which connects real estate professionals with home buyers, sellers and referral business. HomeASAP’s Directory surpassed 500,000 members earlier this year. Additionally, the company launched Search Alliancesm, a first-of-its-kind cooperative marketing platform that enables agents to create their own national consumer home search marketplace to compete effectively with property portals like Zillow and Trulia. Search Alliance works by networking thousands of individual agent IDX Home Search sites which HomeASAP provides participating agents.

“We’re honored to be recognized by the Jacksonville Business Journal for our innovation and technological achievements,” said Chief Product Officer, David Murphy, who accepted the award on behalf of the firm. “It’s a testament to our team, and well-deserved. We’re aggregating data between 180 MLSs (Multiple Listing Services) representing over 90 percent of the listings in the country. We have also spent considerable time developing, testing and refining our user-interface so that it’s extremely easy to use and provides an exceptional user experience demanded by today’s consumers.”

“We’re attempting to disrupt the industry,” Murphy added. “Agents have talked about creating a platform like this for a long time, but no-one had figured out how to do it until now. Zillow went the direction of trying to circumvent real estate agents. We are re-empowering them.”

Other notable technological features and market differentiators for Search Alliance include:

  • Accuracy of its MLS data and speed of data delivery.
  • Elegant user-interface, which supports thousands of agent IDX websites while maintaining a consistent user-experience.
  • Innovative technology that enables agents to overcome the geographic search boundaries of their local MLSs and provide their consumers a national MLS search capability.
  • Leverages the collective marketing firepower of thousands of agents, making it possible for individual agents to compete with portals for consumer attraction.
  • Lowers traffic and lead generation costs by optimizing the agent’s marketing spend using a bid auction system to deliver targeted, high-quality consumer traffic.

HomeASAP is rolling out Search Alliance to real estate agents nationwide. There is no cost to join.

HomeASAP was recognized as one Northeast Florida’s fastest-growing companies in 2017 based upon its average annual growth rate across all industries over the past three years. In addition to Search Alliance and The Real Estate Agent Directory, HomeASAP also provides real estate professionals with Facebook marketing services for content management, lead capture, advertising, and referrals under the names, Page Engagesm, Dream Sweepssm, TurnKey Suitesm, Agent Advantagesm and Real Estate Agent Referralssm.

For more information, please visit https://homeasap.com/ or connect with HomeASAP on one of its social channels:

SOURCE: HomeASAP

Don’t Wait to Buy in the 20 Hottest Neighborhoods in the US

Don't Wait to Buy in the 20 Hottest Neighborhoods in the US

LOS ANGELES/ Sept. 19, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Seattle, Denver and 12 other cities are home to the top 20 most up-and-coming neighborhoods to buy a house in 2017.

A new study by personal finance website GOBankingRates revealed that the top 20 hottest neighborhoods are located on the outskirts of mid-sized cities and are situated near interstate routes, providing easy access to city centers.

GOBankingRates analyzed more than 1,700 neighborhoods throughout the U.S. to determine which locations provide the best opportunity to buy before they become too expensive. Neighborhoods were determined based on trends in home prices, the available supply of homes and how long homes remain on the market.

For full study results and more details on methodology, visit: Buy While You Can: 20 Hottest Neighborhoods in the US.

Top 5 Hottest Neighborhoods in the U.S.

1. Jungle Terrace: St. Petersburg, Fla.

    • Median list price July 2016: $165,999.50
    • Median list price July 2017: $239,900
    • Year-over-year change: 44.52 percent
    • Median days on market: 10

2. Beacon Hill: Seattle

    •   Median list price July 2016: $434,500
    •   Median list price July 2017: $569,995
    •   Year-over-year change: 31.18 percent
    •   Median days on market: 8

3. Point Breeze: Philadelphia

    •   Median list price July 2016: $210,000
    •   Median list price July 2017: $295,000
    •   Year-over-year change: 40.48 percent
    •   Median days on market: 31

4. Heather Gardens: Denver

    •   Median list price July 2016: $218,950
    •   Median list price July 2017: $278,750
    •   Year-over-year change: 27.31 percent
    •   Median days on market: 10

5. Pinehurst: Seattle

    •   Median list price July 2016: $280,500
    •   Median list price July 2017: $350,000
    •   Year-over-year change: 24.78 percent
    •   Median days on market: 7

Additional Insights

  •   Neighborhoods located near major universities including Hyde Park (University of Chicago) and Sherwood Forest (Louisiana State University) typically boost appeal due to a reputation for encouraging economic and community growth.
  •   Multiple neighborhoods including East Atlanta (Ga.) and River Oaks (Tenn.) offer home buyers a balance in terms of cost of living and low crime rates.
  •   Texas cities have become the epicenter of economic growth and job opportunities. Neighborhoods such as Highland Hills and Dawson offer easy commutes and lower home prices.

About GOBankingRates

GOBankingRates.com 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

US housing starts fall 0.8 pct., a 2nd straight monthly drop

US housing starts fall 0.8 pct., a 2nd straight monthly drop

WASHINGTON/September 19, 2017 (AP) (StlRealEstate.News) — Homebuilders slowed their pace of construction by a sharp 0.8 percent in August, the second straight monthly decline. A steep drop in multifamily construction more than offset a gain in single-family-home building.

The overall drop occurred even though would-be homebuyers face both a shortage of properties for sale and escalating prices. Those two forces would normally help spur faster home construction. But builders point to a shortage of skilled workers and rising land costs for development.

The tepid sales numbers suggest that it has become more profitable for companies to build a smaller number of homes for the affluent than to ramp up construction for a broader swath of buyers and renters.

Housing starts slipped last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.18 million, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

Damage from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma didn’t appear to have hurt August housing construction. But the floods, rain and wind struck an area that represents fully 13 percent of U.S. home construction, so building activity could fall in the coming months.

Behind the August decrease was a 5.8 percent plunge in groundbreakings for multi-family buildings, such as apartments. This appears to reflect an expectation among builders that more people will shift out of apartments and into single-family homes as more of the millennial generation begin to have children.

Still, starts for single-family houses crept up just 1.6 percent. That’s not enough to offset a steady decrease in sales listings for existing homes tracked by the National Association of Realtors.

The multi-year decline in listings has helped cause home prices to climb at more than double the pace of wage growth.

Over the past 12 months, the number of existing homes for sale has plummeted 9 percent to 1.92 million.

So far this year, total home construction has risen only 2.7 percent year-to-date, down from a 5.6 percent gain for all of 2016.

Building permits, an indicator of future construction, rose 5.7 percent to 1.30 million in August.

By JOSH BOAK ,  AP Economics Writer

Measure’s First Drone Services Franchise Opens in Illinois

Measure's First Drone Services Franchise Opens in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill./ Sept. 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Measure, the largest U.S. provider of drone services for enterprise customers, today announced its first franchise location with the September 25 grand opening of Measure Springfield in Illinois. The new office provides local, face-to-face service for businesses in Central Illinois that are interested in using aerial data collection to improve productivity, control costs and increase workplace safety.

 The franchise’s primary focus is on the telecommunications, construction, energy and agriculture sectors. Capabilities range from inspecting cell tower, wind farm and solar farm infrastructure to surveying construction sites, monitoring construction project progress, and assessing crop yields, irrigation problems and pest infestations for precision agriculture. Aerial imagery for commercial real estate, insurance, media and disaster response applications is also available.

All services enable customers to take advantage of the efficiencies and insights of drone technology without the time, expense and experienced personnel required to manage their own drone programs.

National Expertise, Local Delivery
Measure Springfield offers turnkey, industry-specific solutions that combine best-in-class drone technology with professional drone pilots, data collection, data processing and easy-to-understand reporting. Developed by Measure’s corporate team and proven through thousands of completed flights, all solutions are standardized to ensure safe, legal and insured flights as well as accurate data capture that can help customers pinpoint operational problems and make critical business decisions.

Franchise owner Troy Reiser is a Springfield native, experienced commercial pilot and former CEO of a South Africa-based airline specializing in air shuttle routes and private air charters to luxury game lodges in Southern and East Africa. His wife and co-owner Jackie Reiser is a marketing specialist and fellow Southern Illinois University graduate whose background includes 18 years with Unilever PLC as well as a role in developing a branding campaign to promote South Africa.

Chief pilot Bryan Alexander is a U.S. Air Force veteran who began flying unmanned aerial systems as a contractor for the U.S. Navy in 2012 and has focused on commercial drones since the birth of the drone services industry three years ago.

“The drone services business is exploding, and partnering with Measure gives us the backing of a national team that has not only helped establish the industry but also has the confidence of customers like Verizon, ARCO Construction and global energy company AES. It also equips us with full-service solutions from flight planning to data analysis that no other drone company in the state can provide,” said Troy Reiser. “We are already providing cell tower inspections and close-out audits for national tower owners, and we have everything we need – from the aircraft to the personnel and procedures – to service customers in other sectors.”

“Our franchising program is designed to build a nationwide drone services network that can provide efficient, quality aerial data collection to clients anywhere in the country while also ensuring adherence to strict operations, maintenance and safety criteria,” said Dan Rothfeld, Measure Senior Vice President of Franchising. “With the Reisers’ aviation and business backgrounds as well as Bryan’s commercial drone credentials, Measure Springfield will be a strong link in the chain we’re building to advance the use of drone technology in the business world.”

About Measure
Measure is the nation’s leading Drone as a Service® company, providing turnkey solutions to acquire, process, and deliver actionable aerial data and media to enterprise customers. The company has pioneered drone applications in telecom, construction, energy, disaster response, live media coverage and other sectors, utilizing best-in-class drone technology, highly trained pilots and experienced data engineers to execute safe, legal and insured missions that help customers achieve new cost and operational efficiencies. For more information, visit www.measure.com or follow the company at www.facebook.com/MeasureUAS/ and on Twitter at @droneasaservice.

SOURCE: Measure

Fannie Mae Announces Enhanced Hybrid Adjustable-Rate Mortgage for Small-Loan Multifamily Borrowers

Fannie Mae Announces Enhanced Hybrid Adjustable-Rate Mortgage for Small-Loan Multifamily Borrowers

WASHINGTON/Sept. 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Fannie Mae (OTC Bulletin Board: FNMA) today announced a newly enhanced Hybrid Adjustable-Rate Mortgage loan with flexible, long-term financing and attractive prepayment options aimed at serving small-loan multifamily borrowers. This powerful financing tool combines competitive pricing and the benefits of the company’s Delegated Underwriting and Servicing (DUS®) model.

 “We are very excited to offer our newly enhanced Hybrid ARM to borrowers,” said Mike Winters, Vice President for Multifamily Customer Engagement, Fannie Mae. “This product enhancement is a very important step in our Small Loans strategy to continue to meet our housing goals, to work with our DUS Lenders to better serve the Small Loans market and to provide more liquidity to this market.This is a great example of the collaboration that drives our strong partnership with our lenders as we continue to look for ways to make it easier for our partners to do business with us.”

Fannie Mae’s Hybrid ARM is a fully amortizing loan with options for a fixed rate in the first five, seven, or 10 years, automatically converting to an adjustable-rate mortgage for the remainder of the loan term with no balloon payment. The financing will be available for properties with 5 to 50 units and for loans of $5 million or less. Proceeds from the loans can be used for acquisitions or refinancings.

Fannie Mae helps make the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and affordable rental housing possible for millions of Americans. We partner with lenders to create housing opportunities for families across the country. We are driving positive changes in housing finance to make the home buying process easier, while reducing costs and risk. To learn more, visit fanniemae.com and follow us on twitter.com/fanniemae.

SOURCE: Fannie Mae

California housing market defies tight inventory as sales and median price propel higher, C.A.R. report

California housing market defies tight inventory as sales and median price propel higher, C.A.R. report

LOS ANGELES/ Sept. 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — California’s housing market defied gravity as existing home sales and median home price registered increases on both a monthly and an annual basis in August, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) said today.

 Closed escrow sales of existing, single-family detached homes in California remained above the 400,000 benchmark for the 17th consecutive month and totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 427,630 units in August, according to information collected by C.A.R. from more than 90 local REALTOR® associations and MLSs statewide. The statewide sales figure represents what would be the total number of homes sold during 2017 if sales maintained the August pace throughout the year. It is adjusted to account for seasonal factors that typically influence home sales.

The August sales figure was up 1.5 percent from the 421,460 level in July and up 1.3 percent compared with home sales in August 2016 of a revised 422,190. Year-to-date sales are running 2.7 percent ahead of last year’s pace, but have curtailed since the first quarter.

“While August’s strong housing market performance is encouraging, it’s really a tale of two markets. Despite sales growth across all segments of the market, lower-priced homes are particularly inventory constrained, which leads to weaker sales growth, faster rising prices, and fierce competition for the few homes that are listed,” said C.A.R. President Geoff McIntosh. “These homes are selling faster than historically and for top dollar, adversely impacting entry-level buyers who are already struggling to afford to buy their very first home.”

The statewide median price reached its highest level in a decade and remained above the $500,000 mark for the sixth straight month. The median price rose 2.9 percent from $549,460 in July to $565,330 in August and climbed 7.2 percent from the revised $527,490 recorded in August 2016. The median sales price is the point at which half of homes sold for more and half sold for less; it is influenced by the types of homes selling, as well as a general change in values.

“A shortage of available homes for sale continues to stoke robust growth in home prices,” said C.A.R. Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie-Appleton-Young. “August marked the third straight month that the median price gained 7 percent or more year-over-year, indicating that prices are not only growing, but are accelerating into the end of the year. For the most inventory constrained segment of the market – the bottom 20 percentile – home prices rose even higher with a double-digit gain (10.7 percent).”

Other key points from C.A.R.’s August 2017 resale housing report include:

  • All of the major regions experienced robust month-to-month and annual gains, with Inland Empire jumping 8.2 percent from a year ago, the San Francisco Bay Area rising 6.5 percent, and the Los Angeles metro region increasing 4.4 percent from August 2016.
  • San Francisco overtook San Mateo as the most expensive market in the state.
  • With consistent home price growth, even the most affordable markets are facing rising prices. California is no longer home to a single county with a median price below $200,000, and only 10 of 58 counties have a median price lower or equal to the national median price of $258,300.
  • Statewide active listings continued to decline, dropping 11.9 percent from a year ago.
  • With strong sales growth and little new inventory to replenish the housing supply, C.A.R.’s Unsold Inventory Index fell from 3.2 months in July to 2.9 months in August. The index measures the number of months needed to sell the supply of homes on the market at the current sales rate. The index stood at 3.4 months in August 2016.
  • Housing supply remained tight throughout the state as every single county in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California saw a reduction in unsold inventory, as did most parts of the Central Coast and Central Valley.
  • The median number of days it took to sell a single-family home was 18 days compared with 16 days in July and 28 days in August 2016.
  • C.A.R.’s sales price-to-list price ratio* was 99.5 percent statewide in August, 100 percent in July, and 98.9 percent in August 2016. At the county level, San Francisco had the highest ratio at 114.8 percent and Mono had the lowest at 93.8 percent.
  • The average price per square foot** for an existing, single-family home statewide was $268 in August, $270 in July, and $250 in August 2016.
  • San Francisco had the highest price per square foot in August at $871/sq. ft., followed by San Mateo ($863/sq. ft.), and Santa Clara ($668/sq. ft.). Counties with the lowest price per square foot in August included Siskiyou and Lassen (both at $129/sq. ft.), Kern ($135/sq. ft.), and Tulare ($136/sq. ft.).
  • Mortgage rates declined further in August as the 30-year, fixed-mortgage interest rate averaged 3.88 percent in August, down from 3.97 percent in July but was up from 3.44 percent in August 2016, according to Freddie Mac. The five-year, adjustable-rate mortgage interest rates ticked down in August to an average of 3.15 percent from 3.22 percent in July but was up from 2.74 percent in August 2016.

Note:  The County MLS median price and sales data in the tables are generated from a survey of more than 90 associations of REALTORS® throughout the state, and represent statistics of existing single-family detached homes only. County sales data are not adjusted to account for seasonal factors that can influence home sales.  Movements in sales prices should not be interpreted as changes in the cost of a standard home. The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical than average prices, which are skewed by a relatively small share of transactions at either the lower-end or the upper-end. Median prices can be influenced by changes in cost, as well as changes in the characteristics and the size of homes sold.  The change in median prices should not be construed as actual price changes in specific homes.

*Sales-to-list price ratio is an indicator that reflects the negotiation power of home buyers and home sellers under current market conditions. The ratio is calculated by dividing the final sales price of a property by its last list price and is expressed as a percentage. A sales-to-list ratio with 100 percent or above suggests that the property sold for more than the list price, and a ratio below 100 percent indicates that the price sold below the asking price.

**Price per square foot is a measure commonly used by real estate agents and brokers to determine how much a square foot of space a buyer will pay for a property. It is calculated as the sale price of the home divided by the number of finished square feet.  C.A.R. currently tracks price-per-square foot statistics for 39 counties.

Leading the way…® in California real estate for more than 110 years, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (www.car.org) is one of the largest state trade organizations in the United States with more than 190,000 members dedicated to the advancement of professionalism in real estate. C.A.R. is headquartered in Los Angeles.

SOURCE: CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS

Student Debt Delaying Millennial Homeownership by 7 Years

Student Debt Delaying Millennial Homeownership by 7 Years

WASHINGTON/ Sept. 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Despite being in the prime years to buy their first home, an overwhelming majority of millennials with student debt currently do not own a home and believe this debt is to blame for what they typically expect to be a seven-year delay from buying.

This is according to a new joint study on millennial student loan debt released today by the National Association of Realtors® and nonprofit American Student Assistance®, https://www.nar.realtor/reports/student-loan-debt-and-housing-report. The survey additionally revealed that student debt is holding back millennials from financial decisions and personal milestones, such as adequately saving for retirement, changing careers, continuing their education, marrying and having children.

NAR and ASA’s new study found that only 20 percent of millennial respondents currently own a home, and that they are typically carrying a student debt load ($41,200) that surpasses their annual income ($38,800). Most respondents borrowed money to finance their education at a four-year college (79 percent), and slightly over half (51 percent) are repaying a balance of over $40,000.

Among the 80 percent of millennials in the survey who said they do not own a home, 83 percent believe their student loan debt has affected their ability to buy. The median amount of time these millennials expect to be delayed from buying a home is seven years, and overall, 84 percent expect to postpone buying by at least three years.

“The tens of thousands of dollars many millennials needed to borrow to earn a college degree have come at a financial and emotional cost that’s influencing millennials’ housing choices and other major life decisions,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Sales to first-time buyers have been underwhelming for several years now1, and this survey indicates student debt is a big part of the blame. Even a large majority of older millennials and those with higher incomes say they’re being forced to delay homeownership because they can’t save for a down payment and don’t feel financially secure enough to buy.”

According to Yun, the housing market’s lifecycle is being disrupted by the $1.4 trillion of student debt U.S. households are currently carrying2. In addition to softer demand at the entry-level portion of the market, a quarter of current millennial homeowners said their student debt is preventing them from selling their home to buy a new one, either because it’s too expensive to move and upgrade, or because their loans have impacted their credit for a future mortgage.

Millennial homeowners who can’t afford to trade up because of their student debt end up staying put, which slows the turnover in the housing market and exacerbates the low supply levels and affordability pressures for those trying to buy their first home,” added Yun.

Repaying student debt is influencing career choices, life milestones and retirement savings

In addition to postponing a home purchase, the survey found that student debt is forcing millennials to put aside several additional life choices and financial decisions that contribute to the economy and their overall happiness. Eighty-six percent have made sacrifices in their professional career, including taking a second job, remaining in a position in which they were unhappy, or taking one outside their field. Furthermore, more than half say they are delayed in continuing their education and starting a family, and 41 percent would like to marry but are stalling because of their debt.

Even more concerning, according to Yun, is that it appears many millennials are putting saving for retirement on the backburner because of their student debt. Sixty-one percent of respondents at times have not been able to make a contribution to their retirement, and nearly a third (32 percent) said they were at times able to contribute but with a reduced amount.

“Being unable to adequately save for retirement on top of not experiencing the wealth building benefits of owning a home is an unfortunate situation that could have long-term consequences to the financial well-being of these millennials,” said Yun. “A scenario where only those with minimal or no student debt can afford to buy a home and save for retirement is not an ideal situation and is one that weakens the economy and contributes to widening inequality.”

A better understanding of college costs is needed

The financial pressures many millennials with student debt are now experiencing appear to somewhat come from not having a complete understanding of the expenses needed to pay for college. Only one-in-five borrowers indicated in the survey that they understood all of the costs, including tuition, fees and housing.

“Student debt is a reality for the majority of students attending colleges and universities across our country. We cannot allow educational debt to hold back whole generations from the financial milestones that underpin the American Dream, like home ownership,” said Jean Eddy, president and CEO at ASA. “The results of this study reinforce the need for solutions that both reduce education debt levels for future students, and enable current borrowers to make that debt manageable, so they don’t have to put the rest of their financial goals on hold.”

Realtors® are actively working with consumers and policy leaders to address the growing burden student debt is having on homeownership,” President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California. “We support efforts that promote education and simplify the student borrowing process, as well as underwriting measures that make it easier for homebuyers carrying student loan debt to qualify for a mortgage.”

In April 2017, ASA distributed a 41 question survey co-written with NAR to 92,419 student loan borrowers (ages 22 to 35) who are current in repayment. A total of 2,203 student loan borrowers completed the survey. All information is characteristic of April 2017, with the exception of income data, which is reflective of 2016.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

1According to NAR’s annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the percent share of first-time buyers in the past three years is 33 percent, which is below the long-term historical average of near 40 percent.
2According to 2017 research on student debt from Experian.

Information about NAR is available at www.nar.realtor. This and other news releases are posted in the “News, Blogs and Videos” tab on the website. Statistical data in this release, as well as other tables and surveys, are posted in the “Research and Statistics” tab.

SOURCE: National Association of Realtors

Autonomous Vehicles Driving Transformation in Real-Estate Design and Construction

Autonomous Vehicles Driving Transformation in Real-Estate Design and Construction

DALLAS/ Sept. 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — With autonomous vehicles still years away from being a common sight on the nation’s roadways, its potentially massive impact on society is already changing how land-use planners, developers and others are preparing for this technology, which has been compared to the most significant innovation since the invention of the automobile, according to BBG, a leading independent national commercial real-estate valuation, advisory and assessment firm.

 Growing interest in self-driving vehicles has been fueled by a recent series of major events. Earlier this month, General Motors announced that it can begin manufacturing autonomous vehicles for mass production pending regulatory approvals. The automaker, which said it’s capable of producing 100,000 self-driving cars annually, is among other companies, such as Tesla and Google, working toward taking driverless vehicles from dream to reality.

In an effort to help pave the way to put more autonomous vehicles on the road, the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation, called the SELF DRIVE act, that created the initial framework for the regulation of autonomous vehicles. The bill awaits Senate action.

The prospect of autonomous vehicles rolling off production lines has influenced those planning real-estate development projects across the country. For instance, the University of Wisconsin- Madison reportedly intends to reduce parking spaces, based on expectations that more of its students and staff will be commuting to and from the school with autonomous vehicles or from ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, both of which are also planning to get into the autonomous vehicle business.

Fewer parking spaces are also being planned for projects elsewhere. A Nashville, Tenn., mixed-used development project is making fewer parking spaces available, and a Somerville, Mass., parking garage is reducing space by more than 60 percent, saving millions of dollars when completed.

Amid rising expectations of greater usage of autonomous vehicles, planners and developers are rethinking other uses for land initially set aside for parking spaces. Scaling back parking spaces means that the land can be used for other commercial or residential real estate purposes, resulting in more usable and high-value space. For example, shrinking demand for parking facilities could prompt development of more mixed-use walkable cities, which include streets designed for door-to-door service to accommodate autonomous vehicles.

However, planners will need to modify or create new land-use designs and zoning and traffic regulations before there can be a proliferation of driverless vehicles. A recent Institute of Transportation Studies at University of California policy brief said autonomous and shared mobility could potentially create increased sprawl without proper planning and regulations. In addition, land development projects will also need to take into account the more than 260 million non-autonomous vehicles now on the roads.

BBG CEO Chris Roach commented on the impact of autonomous vehicles on real-estate development: “The day is coming that autonomous vehicles will be made widely available across the country, transforming society in more ways than how we transport people. Besides reducing traffic congestion and the carbon footprint, self-driven vehicles will clearly impact the design and construction in real estate development projects in cities and towns nationwide. As a result, it’s of the utmost importance that those planners, developers, and others in the real estate ecosystem work closely together to ensure that this innovative technology enables better places to work and live.”

ABOUT BBG

BBG is a leading independent national commercial real-estate valuation, advisory and assessment firm headquartered in Dallas with 25 offices in key U.S. markets. BBG has achieved a reputation for personal attention, on-time delivery and deep expertise in multi-family, office, retail and industrial sectors. For more information about BBG, please visit www.bbgres.com.

SOURCE: BBG

Satisfaction with Home Insurance Faces Critical Test as Hurricane Losses Mount, J.D. Power Finds

Satisfaction with Home Insurance Faces Critical Test as Hurricane Losses Mount, J.D. Power Finds

COSTA MESA, Calif./ Sept. 18, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — U.S. homeowners and renters insurance customer satisfaction has reached an all-time high following a multi-year run of declining catastrophic losses and relatively stable pricing, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Home Insurance Study,SM released today. The ability of insurers to maintain these high levels of customer satisfaction will be tested in the coming months amid the historic property losses and profit strains created by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

“Although property insurers have made great strides in overall customer satisfaction over the past several years, the areas where they consistently see the lowest satisfaction scores are price and direct customer service,” said Greg Hoeg, Vice President of U.S. Insurance Operations at J.D. Power. “Those two areas in particular will be under enormous stress as insurers address losses from the recent hurricanes.”

These challenges are amplified by the threat of disruption from a new crop of emerging “insurtech” innovators coming to market with lower premiums and state-of-the-art self-service web and mobile customer service technologies. However, traditional service providers are fighting back by partnering with smart home assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home. When used, these products increase customer engagement and lead to higher satisfaction by increasing awareness of best practices insurers execute but have low awareness due to limited interactions throughout the year.

“The risk to customer satisfaction in the wake of catastrophic events transcends those directly affected and expands to other insureds whose satisfaction with service is also affected by the image of their carrier,” said Robert Lajdziak, Business Consultant for the North American Insurance Practice at J.D. Power. “Further, if carriers need to raise rates they need to execute on several best practices that mitigate the potential negative effect associated with premium increases. Examples include ensuring customers understand their policy, explaining what the policy covers and discussing premium change options.”

Following are some key findings of the study:

       *Record-high customer satisfaction among homeowners and renters: Overall customer satisfaction scores have reached an all-time high of 808 (on a 1,000-point scale) among             homeowners and 834 among renters, driven by improvements in policy offerings.

  • Price and direct customer service interactions remain problem spots: Despite overall rising customer satisfaction scores, the two lowest-performing factors in the customer experience are price and direct interactions with insurance companies via call center, website or assisted online channels. However, multichannel interactions that include direct and live channels throughout the year produce the highest levels of customer satisfaction.
  • Many don’t completely understand policies and coverage: Overall satisfaction among home insurance customers who understand their policy and the details of what it covers is 92 points higher than among those who say they do not fully understand their coverage. Despite this huge effect on satisfaction, just 48% of customers say they completely understand their policy.
  • Insurtech innovators pose growing threat: Start-up insurance industry innovators have raised more than $7.1 billion globally since 2012 in an attempt to carve out a slice of the home insurance marketplace by offering lower premiums and technologically advanced self-service interactions. While overall awareness of these innovators is still low at just 5% of all property customers, awareness among Millennial1 customers is more than double that rate (11%). Among Millennials who are aware of these start-up businesses, 29% say they “definitely will” or “probably will” purchase from one in the future.

Study Rankings
Amica Mutual ranks highest in the homeowners insurance segment for a 16th consecutive year, with a score of 866. Shelter and COUNTRY Financial rank second and third with scores of 850 and 839, respectively.

Erie Insurance ranks highest in the renters insurance segment with a score of 862. American Family ranks second with a score of 844. State Farm ranks third with a score of 833.

The U.S. Home Insurance Study examines overall customer satisfaction with two distinct personal insurance product lines: homeowners and renters. Satisfaction in the homeowners and renters insurance segments is measured by examining five factors: interaction; policy offerings; price; billing process and policy information; and claims. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.

The study is based on responses from 15,909 online interviews conducted in June-July 2017.

For more information about the 2017 U.S. Home Insurance Study, visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/jd-power-us-household-insurance-study.

See the online press release at http://www.jdpower.com/pr-id/2017157

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. These capabilities enable J.D. Power to help its clients drive customer satisfaction, growth and profitability. Established in 1968, J.D. Power is headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., and has offices serving North/South America, Asia Pacific and Europe. J.D. Power is a portfolio company of XIO Group, a global alternative investments and private equity firm headquartered in London, and is led by its four founders: Athene Li, Joseph Pacini, Murphy Qiao and Carsten Geyer.

SOURCE J.D. Power

Finchatton To Bring London’s First Four Seasons Private Residences To Twenty Grosvenor Square

Finchatton To Bring London's First Four Seasons Private Residences To Twenty Grosvenor Square

LONDON/ Sept. 17, 2017 (StlRealEstate.News) — Finchatton, the preeminent international design and development firm, has partnered with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the world’s leading luxury hospitality company, to offer the first standalone Four Seasons Private Residences, located at Twenty Grosvenor Square in London. Opening in 2018, the residences will be the first Four Seasons Private Residences to be operated independently of a Four Seasons hotel or resort.

Setting a new standard in London real estate, Twenty Grosvenor Square will offer 37 luxurious residences in the heart of Mayfair. Serviced by Four Seasons employees and offering access to the many amenities of a Four Seasons hotel, the residences will bring together the best of hotel services and private ownership, offering a luxury residential experience unlike any other in London.

Andrew Dunn, Co-Founder, Finchatton, said, “Buyers quite rightly expect world-class amenities, concierge and service when purchasing a Finchatton property. Partnering with Four Seasons to deliver this, and more, at Twenty Grosvenor Square will bring the very best to one of London’s most distinguished locations.”

J. Allen Smith, President and CEO, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts continued, “Twenty Grosvenor Square is a significant development for Four Seasons as it marks our much-anticipated entry into standalone residential. Partnering with Finchatton is an incredible opportunity for us to bring our vision for free-standing residential to life, elevating our global portfolio and establishing Four Seasons in the standalone residential market.”

Bringing the luxuries and conveniences of hotel living home, Twenty Grosvenor Square, a Four Seasons Residence will offer the many services and amenities that guests enjoy in Four Seasons hotels and resorts around the world. From in-residence dining and catering to concierge services, housekeeping, salon and spa services, grocery stocking, event planning, childcare, pet care, transportation and business services, the seamless amenities of Twenty Grosvenor Square will be personally tailored to the lifestyle of each resident, offering ultimate customisation and peace of mind.

Once the home of the US Naval Forces in Europe and frequented by the likes of General Dwight Eisenhower during the Second World War, Twenty Grosvenor Square is steeped with rich history.  Reviving the energy of the original building, the interiors have been elegantly designed by Finchatton to offer three, four and five bedroom apartments, each conceived with luxurious design features such as elegant classical drawing rooms, soaring ceilings, media rooms, family and catering kitchens, and separate access for staff. The 250,000 square foot (23,226 square metre) luxury development will also include a private wine cellar, a spa with an 82 foot (25 metre) swimming pool, a treatment suite with steam room and sauna, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, games room, a cinema, business suite, a garden room and private landscaped gardens.

In addition to being the first Four Seasons private residential project that is not integrated with a hotel, Twenty Grosvenor Square, a Four Seasons Residence will also be the company’s third property in London, joining Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane and Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square.

Four Seasons Private Residences
As one of the leaders in branded residences since 1982, Four Seasons currently operates 33 branded Private Residence properties around the world, with three quarters of future Four Seasons projects including a residential component.

“Residential has long been an integral part of our business and creates a unique opportunity for us to bring the personalised care, high-touch services and amenities guests love about our hotels into their homes,” continued Smith. “Standalone residential is a model we are actively pursuing in global gateway cities where we have an established presence, and we look forward to introducing our first freestanding residential project at Twenty Grosvenor Square.”

All Four Seasons residential offerings combine Four Seasons legendary people and service with exclusive hotel amenities such as spa services, in-residence dining services, housekeeping, concierge services and many more, creating a seamless experience for residence owners.

Finchatton:
Since 2001, Finchatton has designed, managed and financed more than 60 major development projects worth in excess of GBP 1 billion around the world in locations such as France, America, Switzerland, the UK, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Australasia. In addition, the company has completed more than 75 prestigious private commissions. Finchatton currently has in excess of GBP 1.3 billion worth of development in the pipeline.

In May 2013, the company announced its role as development co-ordinator on Twenty Grosvenor Square, the former US Naval Headquarters in London’s Mayfair. The company has two distinct divisions: Finchatton Private, which undertakes bespoke commissions around the world, and Finchatton Residences for development projects.

About Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts 
Founded in 1960, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is dedicated to perfecting the travel experience through continual innovation and the highest standards of hospitality. Currently operating 106 hotels and resorts and 33 residential properties in major city centres and resort destinations in 44 countries, and with more than 50 projects under planning or development, Four Seasons consistently ranks among the world’s best hotels and most prestigious brands in reader polls, traveller reviews and industry awards. For more information and reservations, visit fourseasons.com. For the latest news, visit press.fourseasons.com and follow @FourSeasonsPR on Twitter.

SOURCE: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts