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Peer-to-peer real estate marketplace Homie wants to replace your realtor with a bot

At one family gathering, a cousin began talking about how he bought a brand new home and sold his own home all without a real estate agent on a site called Homie. Johnny Hanna, who had previously developed the successful real estate lead-gen software Entrata, started the agent-less real estate site with a few friends in hopes of taking some of the frustration out of the process of buying and selling a home. He tells TechCrunch Homie has taken over the millennial market along the Wasatch Front, the area linking a mountainous region from Provo to Ogden, Utah, since launching 18 months ago, and it now plans to do the same in Phoenix, Arizona. Hanna also mentioned he could possibly expand Homie to Vegas, Dallas, Denver and about five to 10 metro areas in the next year. But so far, the startup has only sold about 1,700 homes on the platform — all in the aforementioned Wasatch Front region. “We looked at a lot of different markets in the U.S. and identified the ones that make the most sense,” Hanna said. You don’t need a human to show you the same house over and over when one is like the next and it’s more about negotiating price. So far, the startup has raised about $9 million in seed funding and is currently seeking another $10 to $15 million in Series A financing to help it scale in the next year. Hanna, a realtor himself, is okay with that bit. Even if that means one more human job will be taken over by a bot.

Seattle Is Now the Number Three US City for Foreign Real Estate Investors

A tweet by Mike Rosenberg, a business reporter at the Seattle Times, offers a link to an interesting document released by the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE). The document the organization dropped is called "London Edges Out NY as Top City Among Foreign RE Investors." It mainly concerns the global investor class's renewed interest in London's real estate market after a period of uncertainly caused by the 2016 passing of Brexit. As a consequence, London's real estate market is once again the top target for what I call global surplus capital. Interesting enough, AFIRE rates Seattle as the third-best city in the US. The former condition has meant slow growth and few investment opportunities for the latter; yet it is the owners of the latter who place great political pressure on advanced capitalist states to keep wages low or stagnant. It appears to investors around the world like a Mount Rainier on a prairie. They soon send their capital in that direction, and this capital almost immediately inflates already inflated values in that sector or that region. Seattle is not like Dubai, a global city that has no illusions about the investor class and what it can do to a city's economy. This is yet another contradiction of capitalism.

Are we about to see an online mortgage revolution?

Finding and applying for a mortgage has always been a fairly long-winded and often tedious process, but it seems the mortgage industry is finally catching up with the digital revolution. Most major lenders can now at least begin the mortgage application process online; although having to drop offline to complete the application over the phone and via the post is still commonplace. Fortunately, with the rise in the number of mortgage brokers conducting their business online, Habito, Trussle and Dwell for example, finding a mortgage is getting easier. This year, mortgage broker Nuvo is going a step further with the launch of its Facebook Messenger service utilising smart technology and artificial intelligence. Accessed via Facebook Messenger, the Nuvo chatbot, when provided with some basic customer information, can suggest the best mortgage options in under one minute. The Nuvo platform has been designed to fill the gap between price comparison websites and fee charging traditional brokers, and fulfil the growing demand for online services. Nuvo developer Richard Hayes says the company’s artificial intelligence powered chatbot sets it apart in the sector: “It allows customers to provide details via chat which not only is more natural than form filling, but it also means the process is two-way so the customer can ask a question at any point if there is something they don’t understand. Speaking at an event last year, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said: “To its advocates, this wave of innovation promises a FinTech (financial technology) revolution that will democratise financial services. Consumers will get more choice, better-targeted services and keener pricing. As customers become more willing to delegate decision-making to machines, their funds and loans are being better matched with the best rates from around the system.”

Down payment amounts are up—here’s what you need to know

New data show that most buyers actually put down only about one-third that amount. $20,000 is a 7.6 percent down payment. Complete guide to down payment assistance in the USA “First, the most qualified buyers with the largest down payments end up buying most of the homes for sale. Or, they’re forced to get creative to cobble together a bigger down payment,” says Blomquist.” Put in pigskin terms, “buying a house is a full-contact sport in today’s market,” he adds. “The report shows that 23.4 percent of all purchase loan originations on homes bought in the third quarter involved co-borrowers,” says Blomquist. These cities include San Jose (51.1 percent co-borrowers); Miami (42.7 percent); and Seattle (36.7 percent co-borrowers). “This indicates more buyers are getting creative to get to 20 percent down and avoid PMI,” he says. What you can do now Don’t have 20 percent saved? Check out low down payment mortgage options, like the FHA’s 3.5 percent home loan. It's a fact that those who put more money down get the best mortgage rates.

Lending gets easier for Millennial home buyers

According to the latest Millennial Tracker from Ellie Mae, the average FICO score for a Millennial buyer has dropped two full points over the last year. Increasing accessibility According to the tracker, the average Millennial FICO score on all mortgage loans decreased from 725 in November 2016 to 723 in November of this year. Millennials aren't just buying homes; They're refinancing, too Still, Millennials have higher average FICO scores than most buyers. “With the average credit score dipping, lenders are extending credit to borrowers who may have had no previous access to the housing market,” Tyrell said. More than two-thirds of Millennial buyers used conventional products, while 30 percent used FHA loans. Just 2 percent took out VA loans. Men made up the largest majority of Millennial home buyers, accounting for 68 percent of all closed loans. The Millennial home buyer gender gap: male vs. female mortgage characteristics Female buyers, who accounted for just 32 percent of Millennial buyers, were much more likely to buy a home while single. In fact, 59 percent of female Millennial buyers in November were single, 40 percent were married, and 1 percent were separated. Get today’s mortgage rates Want to take advantage of today’s loosening credit standards?

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Social media in 2018: Time to grow up or get out

Ad blocking. Next-generation social media marketing So, faced with these many disruptions to business as usual (and I only listed a few above), what are we social media marketers to do? How can we grow up and do real company marketing using social media? Facebook noticed that too much typical brand content in the news feed turned users into passive scrollers: less engaged, less happy, and therefore more likely to drop out of Facebook. This means that just as serious SEOs had to become serious content marketers, so it goes for social media marketers. Invest in creating social content that does that, and you can still shine in organic social. It’s the primary way those networks have determined which posts should be seen more by more users. What social media users do value, and social networks will therefore boost, is content that creates genuine human involvement and interaction. But that doesn’t mean influencer marketing is not valuable. It’s way past time for social media to grow up and become a mature marketing channel.