Situs Newswatch 8/19

UNC Profiles Situs Executive: Hometown Hero Innovates to Revive Rural NC Town

The town of Robbins is less than 30 minutes north of Pinehurst. In its heyday, Robbins was a thriving manufacturing community known for producing textiles and furniture. But as the manufacturing industry evolved one by one, businesses shut down their operations.

Situs Executive Managing Director Steven Bean is a Tar Heel born and bred; where others saw challenges, Bean saw opportunities.

The more he thought about it, the more Robbins made sense. “The next thing I know, I’m writing a business plan and pitching it to Situs, the leading trusted advisor to the global real estate industry,” says Bean.

The Robbins office originally performed underwriting and due diligence services exclusively – but as Situs’ position in the marketplace grew, so did demand for new solutions. The office now performs due diligence, loan servicing, asset management, accounting support and other financial services for a number of global lenders and equity investors.

Bean has not only developed a sustainable business model for rural America – he’s proven that it works.

read more: UNC KENAN-FLAGLER

Situs Exec’s Expertise Tapped by Global Chinese TV

China’s CCTV Nightly Business Program delved into Situs Executive Managing Director Steve Bean‘s expertise to discuss the state of the U.S. and global real estate markets.

We know you will find the conversation interesting and informative:

click here to watch the interview  

Fed’s July Minutes Show a Split Central Bank Seeking to Keep Options Open

Federal Reserve officials, playing a waiting game on the economy, sought to keep their options open at a July policy meeting as they tried to reconcile differences over whether it was time to raise short-term interest rates again.

The Fed’s Wednesday release of minutes from its July 26-27 meeting suggested a rate increase is a possibility as early as September, but that the Fed won’t commit to moving until a stronger consensus can be reached about the outlook for growth, hiring and inflation.

Several officials, still not yet confident that inflation will rise to the Fed’s 2% objective after running below target for four years, weren’t prepared to consider a rate increase. Others, believing the U.S. is close to a fully recovered job market, thought a rate increase would soon be warranted, according to the minutes.

“Members judged it appropriate to continue to leave their policy options open and maintain the flexibility to adjust the stance of policy based on incoming information,” the minutes said.

The Fed raised its benchmark federal-funds interest rate from near zero in December, and began the year expecting to nudge rates up four more times in quarter-percentage-point increments in 2016. It hasn’t moved because of global problems.

read more: Wall Street Journal

Homebuilder Shares Rise on Strong Housing Data

U.S. homebuilder stocks gained as builders showed more confidence in the market for new homes in August.

The SPDR S&P Homebuilders ETF (XHB) rose more than 1 percent at its high, led by shares of Toll Brothers, CalAtlantic and Taylor Morrison, which all gained about 2 percent.

So far this year, the XHB has gained nearly 8 percent.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released rose 2 points to 60 following a downwardly revised reading of 58 in July. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions positively.

So far this year, the XHB has gained nearly 8 percent.

read more: CNBC

AIG Reaches Deal to Sell Mortgage-Insurance Unit 

American International Group Inc. struck a deal to sell its mortgage-guarantee unit for about $3.4 billion, as the insurer speeds up the return of cash to restive shareholders.

AIG had disclosed plans early this year to stage an initial public offering of the mortgage business, known as United Guaranty, while retaining a majority stake.

Selling the unit outright to Bermuda-based insurer and reinsurer Arch Capital Group Ltd. helps it more quickly meet a goal of returning $25 billion to shareholders.

Indeed, there have been several instances lately in which companies have opted for sales instead of initial public offerings as the new-issue market languishes. The Wall Street Journal, which reported news of the deal talks before they were confirmed Monday afternoon, reported in early August that AIG was open to an outright sale of the mortgage-insurance unit.

According to the terms of the deal, Arch will pay $2.2 billion in cash, plus $975 million in Arch preferred stock and $250 million in another type of preferred stock, dividends or cash.

read more: Wall Street Journal

Snapchat Expanding in NYC

Snapchat is expanding its New York City headcount, The Post has learned.

The Venice, Calif.-based disappearing-photos app has struck a deal to expand its Big Apple ranks to nearly 400 from roughly 100.

The new-media juggernaut, recently valued at $18 billion and headed by 26-year-old founder Evan Spiegel, has committed to the hiring spree at its office in the former New York Times building under an agreement with Empire State Development Corp.

Other new-media companies that lately have expanded in the Big Apple with ESD tax incentives include BuzzFeed and Vice.

Since December 2014, Snapchat has been leasing 27,000 square feet in the Midtown building, whose other tenants include Yahoo.

read more: New York Post

Feds Expand Hunt for Laundered Money

The U.S. government is expanding to the Bay Area its hunt for people who hide cash by purchasing expensive homes through shell companies.

Many rich and famous people purchase homes through shells, usually limited liability companies, for privacy and other legal reasons. But they are also used by money launderers, tax evaders and other criminals.

In January, the government started requiring title insurance companies to identify the people behind shell companies that purchase high-priced homes in Manhattan and Miami-Dade County in all-cash deals. They also must report information from the true owner’s passport or driver’s license to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

The geographic targeting order was supposed to end in late August, but it yielded so much useful information, Treasury extended it temporarily and expanded it to include more areas.

Starting Aug. 28, title insurance companies must identify the people behind shell companies that purchase homes worth $2 million or more without a mortgage in San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Los Angeles and Orange counties.

read more: San Francisco Chronicle

Using Drones in Real Estate Appraisals  

After years of consideration, the Federal Aviation Administration has finally published rules on how to integrate drones safely into the National Airspace System. There is now an easy to understand system and set of rules which anyone flying a drone must follow. This booming and exciting new technology is making its debut in many different fields of commerce and real estate is no exception. An interesting question arises from all of this. Should real estate appraisers consider using this technology when appraising real estate? The simple answer according to Greg B. Mays, owner and operator of Flying Fish Aerial Photography writing on the NAR blog is, “absolutely.”

It’s been a long time since a new technology, other than software and gadgets that can measure and take notes in the field, has been available to us and Mays writes he finds it very exciting.

Mays has utilized aerial photographs in an appraisal on more than several occasions.

Mays says, “This bird’s eye view can provide the client with a much better idea of the neighborhood surrounding a property and physical characteristics of the property itself. To coin a phrase, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

read more: Appraisal Insight

Real Estate Agent Earns U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Team A Medal In Rio

Alex Naddour put the U.S. men’s gymnastics team back in the medal column.

Naddour won the bronze medal in pommel horse Sunday at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. He scored 15.700 points to finish behind Max Whitlock of Great Britain (15.966), who also won men’s floor exercise, and Louis Smith of Great Britain (15.833).

Team USA had, until now, been shut out of the medals in Rio.

After Team USA finished a disappointing fifth in the team event in Rio, and Chris Brooks and Sam Mikulak were unable to medal in the all-around, and Jake Dalton was sixth and Sam Mikulak eighth in floor exercise earlier Sunday, it came down to Naddour.

And he came through in a big way.

In the qualification, Naddour qualified seventh, so he was a surprise medalist. However, he is a four-time national champion in the event and was seventh at the 2015 world championships and sixth in 2014.

Naddour’s medal was the first for a U.S. male gymnast in an event final since Jonathan Horton won the silver medal on the horizontal bar at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

read more: TeamUSA.org

Playboy Mansion in L.A. sells for $100 million, including unusual amenity: Hef

The sale of the Playboy Mansion to next-door neighbor Daren Metropoulos has closed for $100 million, according to a spokesperson for Metropoulos.

The Holmby Hills home was listed for $200 million. Playboy Enterprises founder Hugh Hefner will continue to occupy the mansion for his lifetime.

Metropoulos, a 33-year-old principal at private-equity firm Metropoulos & Co. and a current co-owner of Hostess Brands, owns the adjacent property and has restored it. The spokesperson said he intends to connect the two estates after Hefner’s tenancy ends, creating a 7.3-acre compound. “I look forward to eventually rejoining the two estates and enjoying this beautiful property as my private residence for years to come,” he said in a statement.

read more: Market Watch