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Private renters living in hazardous homes thanks to ‘weak regulations’, says Citizens Advice

Hundreds of thousands of tenants in England are living in hazardous homes with problems such mould or faulty fire alarms due to “weak and confusing” regulation, according to Citizens Advice.

The charity found that almost one in three tenants surveyed said their house did not have a carbon monoxide alarm despite requiring one. That equates to 900,000 homes across the UK.

Three-fifths of tenants identified disrepair in their home during the last two years that was not caused by them and that their landlord was responsible for fixing. One in six of those said the disrepair was a major threat to their health and safety.

Citizens Advice also polled landlords, finding widespread gaps in knowledge of their legal responsibilities to tenants.

A quarter of landlords failed to ensure that there was a smoke alarm on each floor of all of their properties.

Almost half (49 per cent) did not know they face a penalty of up to £5,000 for not checking smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order on the first day of the tenancy. The same proportion didn’t know the penalty for not carrying out a gas safety check.

“Too many private renters live in hazardous homes – often with potentially fatal flaws,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

“Weak and confusing regulation means landlords can struggle to understand their legal obligations, while tenants find it hard to get problems in their homes resolved.

It suggests creating a home “MOT”, setting a “fit-and-proper-person” test for landlords and standardising rental contracts.

The government has made reforms in the private rented sector in recent years, such as laws to ensure all rented homes are fit to be lived in, banning most tenant fees, and proposed the abolition of “no-fault” section 21 evictions.

But Citizens Advice claims that renters still lack the power they need to ensure standards are consistent, and landlords and tenants lack the knowledge they need for standards to be upheld.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It is truly alarming that so many private renters are living in homes which aren’t up to scratch and compromise their safety. A safe home is a basic standard that every renter has the right to expect.

“It’s critical that every landlord is aware of their responsibilities and stays in step with the new Fitness for Human Habitation Act, which sets out standards to keep renters safe.

“But if landlords don’t follow these rules, renters should be armed with the power to challenge their poor behaviour.

“That’s why the government’s planned ban on no-fault evictions must become law as quickly as possible, so that private renters can speak up about safety concerns without living in fear of a revenge eviction.”

Statewide PSA Warns Real Estate Scams Put You at Risk

The growing threat of wire fraud scams targeting real estate transactions is prompting the Utah Division of Real Estate to launch a statewide campaign in warning the public. A real estate email scam is trying to dupe unsuspecting buyers out of their down payment right before settlement.

The Utah Division of Real Estate has produced a public service announcement video that is airing on local television stations as well as a statewide billboard campaign through the end of August.

The email scam—affecting transactions across the country—targets real estate agents’ and title companies’ email accounts. Scammers learn when transactions are scheduled and, usually within 24 hours of a transaction closing, they’ll use the email account to send new wiring instructions to the buyer, seller, title, or escrow agent, lender, real estate agent, or broker. The new wiring instruction will have the funds directed to a bank account outside of the country. After the funds are transferred, they are usually quickly dispersed to multiple banks and quickly become untraceable and unrecoverable.

More than $149 million was lost by consumers nationwide in 2018 from this type of email real estate fraud, according to a Federal Bureau of Investigation report.

“All parties in a real estate transaction should be very wary of any last-minute changes over email,” says Jonathan Stewart, director of the Utah Division of Real Estate. “Once criminals gain access to your email account, they can make anything sound legitimate. We hope by educating consumers about this statewide email scam, we can prevent Utahns from becoming victims.”

SOURCE: REALTOR magazine

National Association of Realtors: ” Real Estate will continue to see growth, amid a strong economy”

National Association of Realtor’s chief economist Lawrence Yun’s remarks came during a talk at the Realtors Conference & Expo in Boston last week, where he added that in his opinion another recession seems unlikely in the short term due to the country’s sound economic fundamentals.

Yun also forecast around six million new and existing home sales by the end of this year, and slightly more in the next couple of years. The economist also believes home prices will continue to grow at a modest rate, around 4.7 percent in 2018, 3.1 percent in 2019 and 2.7 percent in 2020.

Key Takeaways

  • Yun forecast around six million new and existing home sales by the end of this year
  • New homes are being added to the market at a rate of around 1.2 million per year, but that’s below the historical average
  • Yun said there’s little chance of a recession happening as inflation remains under control, and so any interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve will likely be moderate.

However, Yun said these positive trends would only occur if homebuilders are able to keep up with demand by adding new inventory to the market. New homes are being added to the market at a rate of around 1.2 million per year, but that’s below the historical average and well off the 1.9 million homes that were built in 2004.

There are no signs of a housing bubble at least, Yun added. He said that even though home prices have been outpacing income for several years now, the overall economy in the U.S. is still fundamentally sound, that mortgage quality is high, and that due to the persisting inventory shortages in many markets, there is no danger of the overbuilding that preceded the Great Recession.

Some risks do exist though. Yun said the threat of a full-scale trade war between the U.S. would hamper economic growth, and lead to higher interest rates for long-term debt instruments. If that happened, it’s likely a recession would occur, Yun said.

One piece of good news is that Realtors themselves can help do their bit by reminding their clients that the economy is still healthy and that all signs point towards positive home price increases. Yun said there’s little chance of a recession happening as inflation remains under control, and so any interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve will likely be moderate.

In other words, it’s a good time to buy a home, Yun said.

“All indications are prices will keep moving higher, and buyers who wait risk missing out on wealth gains,” he said.

Source: Realty Biz News

9 Ways To Invest In Real Estate Without Buying Property In 2019

Last year’s housing market was one for the record books, with the gains partly driven by tightening inventories and exceedingly low mortgage rates. In some pockets of the country, housing prices rose well over 10 percent on average.

But, it’s not only the big coastal cities that are seeing huge growth. A survey from GoBankingRates revealed that many cities with the most growth were inland, including: Buffalo, New York (34.6%), Atlanta, Georgia (24.54%), and Cincinnati, Ohio (20.6%).

With this in mind, you may be wondering if you should throw your hat in the ring and invest in real estate — or, if you’re too late. You may also be wondering if you should invest in real estate in a traditional sense — as in, becoming a landlord.

Now, here’s the good news. Not only is now still a good time to invest in real estate since more growth is likely on its way, but there are also more ways than ever to invest in housing without dealing with tenants or the other minutiae of landlord work.


Here are some of the best options right now:

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#1: Invest in real estate ETFs
An exchange-traded fund, also known as an ETF, is a collection of stocks or bonds in a single fund. ETFs are similar to index funds and mutual funds in the fact they come with the same broad diversification and low costs over all.

If you’re angling to invest in real estate but also want to diversify, investing in a real-estate themed ETF can be a smart move. Vanguard’s VNQ, for example, is a real estate ETF that invests in stocks issued by real estate investment trusts (REITs) that purchase office buildings, hotels, and other types of property. IYR is another real estate ETF that works similarly since it offers targeted access to domestic real estate stocks and REITs.

There are plenty of other ETFs that offer exposure to real estate, too, so make sure to do your research and consider the possibilities.

#2: Invest in real estate mutual funds
Just like you can invest in real estate ETFs, you can also invest in real estate mutual funds. A colleague of mine, Taylor Schulte of Define Financial in San Diego, says he swears by a real estate mutual fund known as DFREX. Why? Because its low costs and track record help him feel confident about future returns. In addition to low costs, Schulte says the strategy of DFREX is backed by decades of academic research from Nobel Prize winning economists.

TIREX is another real estate mutual fund to consider with $1.9 billion in assets, broad diversification among real estate holdings, and low fees.

#3: Invest in REITs
Consumers invest in REITs for the same reason they invest in real estate ETFs and mutual funds; they want to invest in real estate without holding physical property. REITs let you do exactly that while also diversifying your holdings based on the type of real estate class each REIT invests in.

Financial advisor Chris Ball of BuildFinancialMuscle.com told me he personally invests in REITs for the diversification and for the “non-correlation” with other types of equities. He says he likes the long-term data despite the typical mood swings and ups and downs of the real estate market.

“It also gives me exposure to real estate without having to be a landlord,” he says. Ball also says a lot of his clients agree with that position and invest in REITs as part of their portfolio as a result.

With that being said, I typically suggest clients stay away from non-traded REITs and buy only publicly-traded REITs instead. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently came out to warn against non-traded REITs, noting their lack of liquidity, high fees, and lack of value transparency create undue risk.

#4: Invest in a real estate focused company
There are many companies that own and manage real estate without operating as a REIT. The difference is, you’ll have to dig to find them and they may pay a lower dividend than a REIT.

Companies that are real estate-focused can include hotels, resort operators, timeshare companies, and commercial real estate developers, for example. Make sure to conduct due diligence before you buy stock in individual companies, but this option can be a good one if you want exposure to a specific type of real estate investment and have time to research historical data, company history, and other details.

#5: Invest in home construction
If you look at real estate market growth over the last decade or longer, it’s easy to see that much of it is the result of limited housing inventory. For this reason, many predict that construction of new homes will continue to boom over the next few decades or more.

In that sense, it’s easy to see why investing in the construction side of the industry could also be smart. An entire industry of homebuilders will need to develop new neighborhoods and rehabilitate old ones, after all, so now may be a good time to buy in.

Large homebuilders to watch include LGI Homes (LGIH), Lennar (LEN), D.R. Horton (DHI), and Pulte Homes (PHM), but there are plenty of others to discover on your own.

#6: Hire a property manager
While you don’t have to buy physical property to invest in real estate, there’s at least one strategy that can help you have your cake and eat it, too. Many investors who want exposure to rental real estate they can see and touch go ahead and buy rentals but then hire a property manager to do all the heavy lifting.

Lee Huffman, a travel and lifestyle writer for BaldThoughts.com, once told me he owns rental property in North Carolina but actually lives in California. While he tried to manage his properties from a distance at first, he ultimately chose to work with a property manager to save his sanity and his profits.

While he forks over 8-10% of gross rent to his manager, it was still “one of the best decisions he’s ever made” as a real estate investor, he says. “They take care of the rental property basics – minor repairs, vetting prospective tenants, collecting rents – so that I can focus on my career, family, and locating the next profitable rental property investment,” notes Huffman.

In that sense, he gets the benefits of being a landlord without all the hard work. “One of the most important roles that a property manager plays is that they act as a buffer between the tenant and me,” says Huffman. “I don’t receive random calls, texts, or emails from tenants at all hours of the day or night.”

The key to making sure this strategy works is ensuring you only invest in properties with enough cash flow to pay for a property manager and still score a sizable rate of return.

#7: Invest in real estate notes
Real estate notes are a type of investment you can buy if you’re interested in investing in real estate but don’t necessarily want to deal with a brick-and-mortar building. When you’re investing in real estate notes through a bank, you’re typically buying debt at prices that are well below what a retail investor would pay.

I’ve invested in real estate notes in the past via an individual investor I know who purchases and renovates property. So far, my experiences have only been positive. However, I would conduct due diligence to ensure you know what you’re getting into whether you invest into real estate notes with a bank or a real estate investor who is actively pursuing new properties.

#8: Hard money loans
If you don’t like any of the other ideas on this list but have cash to lend, you can also consider giving a hard money loan. My friend Jim Wang of WalletHacks.com says he is currently investing in real estate with this strategy since he wants exposure but doesn’t want to deal with being a landlord. He also says the ROI (return on investment) for his time wouldn’t be as great as other opportunities since his time is valuable.

Hard money loans are basically a direct loan to a real estate investor, he says. Wang offers real estate loans to an investor he knows in person, and he receives a 12% return on his money as a result. Wang says he feels comfortable with the set-up since the investor is someone he knows, but he isn’t sure he would be comfortable with a stranger.

Either way, hard money loans directly to real estate investors are another strategy to consider if you want to invest in real estate but don’t want to deal with a property and the headaches that come with it.

#9: Invest in real estate online
Last but not least, don’t forget about all the new companies that have cropped up to help investors get involved in real estate without getting their hands dirty. Websites like Fundrise and Realty Mogul let you invest into commercial or residential real estate investments and receive cash flow distributions in return.

Investing with either company is similar to investing in REITs in that your money is pooled with cash from other investors who take advantage of the platform. The cash you invest may be used to purchase residential property, commercial real estate, apartment buildings, and more. Ultimately, you get the benefit of dividends and distributions and long-term appreciation of the properties you “own.”

While neither company has been around for too long, they are both performing well so far. Fundrise returned an average of 11.4% on invested dollars in 2017 net of fees and 9.11% in 2018 after all, and you don’t have to be an accredited investor to open an account.

sing market was one for the record books, with the gains partly driven by tightening inventories and exceedingly low mortgage rates. In some pockets of the country, housing prices rose well over 10 percent on average.

But, it’s not only the big coastal cities that are seeing huge growth. A survey from GoBankingRates revealed that many cities with the most growth were inland, including: Buffalo, New York (34.6%), Atlanta, Georgia (24.54%), and Cincinnati, Ohio (20.6%).

With this in mind, you may be wondering if you should throw your hat in the ring and invest in real estate — or, if you’re too late. You may also be wondering if you should invest in real estate in a traditional sense — as in, becoming a landlord.

Now, here’s the good news. Not only is now still a good time to invest in real estate since more growth is likely on its way, but there are also more ways than ever to invest in housing without dealing with tenants or the other minutiae of landlord work.

Here are some of the best options right now:

#1: Invest in real estate ETFs

An exchange-traded fund, also known as an ETF, is a collection of stocks or bonds in a single fund. ETFs are similar to index funds and mutual funds in the fact they come with the same broad diversification and low costs over all.

If you’re angling to invest in real estate but also want to diversify, investing in a real-estate themed ETF can be a smart move. Vanguard’s VNQ, for example, is a real estate ETF that invests in stocks issued by real estate investment trusts (REITs) that purchase office buildings, hotels, and other types of property. IYR is another real estate ETF that works similarly since it offers targeted access to domestic real estate stocks and REITs.

There are plenty of other ETFs that offer exposure to real estate, too, so make sure to do your research and consider the possibilities.

#2: Invest in real estate mutual funds

Just like you can invest in real estate ETFs, you can also invest in real estate mutual funds. A colleague of mine, Taylor Schulte of Define Financial in San Diego, says he swears by a real estate mutual fund known as DFREX. Why? Because its low costs and track record help him feel confident about future returns. In addition to low costs, Schulte says the strategy of DFREX is backed by decades of academic research from Nobel Prize winning economists.

TIREX is another real estate mutual fund to consider with $1.9 billion in assets, broad diversification among real estate holdings, and low fees.

#3: Invest in REITs

Consumers invest in REITs for the same reason they invest in real estate ETFs and mutual funds; they want to invest in real estate without holding physical property. REITs let you do exactly that while also diversifying your holdings based on the type of real estate class each REIT invests in.

Financial advisor Chris Ball of BuildFinancialMuscle.com told me he personally invests in REITs for the diversification and for the “non-correlation” with other types of equities. He says he likes the long-term data despite the typical mood swings and ups and downs of the real estate market.

“It also gives me exposure to real estate without having to be a landlord,” he says. Ball also says a lot of his clients agree with that position and invest in REITs as part of their portfolio as a result.

With that being said, I typically suggest clients stay away from non-traded REITs and buy only publicly-traded REITs instead. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently came out to warn against non-traded REITs, noting their lack of liquidity, high fees, and lack of value transparency create undue risk.

#4: Invest in a real estate focused company

There are many companies that own and manage real estate without operating as a REIT. The difference is, you’ll have to dig to find them and they may pay a lower dividend than a REIT.

Companies that are real estate-focused can include hotels, resort operators, timeshare companies, and commercial real estate developers, for example. Make sure to conduct due diligence before you buy stock in individual companies, but this option can be a good one if you want exposure to a specific type of real estate investment and have time to research historical data, company history, and other details.

#5: Invest in home construction

If you look at real estate market growth over the last decade or longer, it’s easy to see that much of it is the result of limited housing inventory. For this reason, many predict that construction of new homes will continue to boom over the next few decades or more.

In that sense, it’s easy to see why investing in the construction side of the industry could also be smart. An entire industry of homebuilders will need to develop new neighborhoods and rehabilitate old ones, after all, so now may be a good time to buy in.

Large homebuilders to watch include LGI Homes (LGIH), Lennar (LEN), D.R. Horton (DHI), and Pulte Homes (PHM), but there are plenty of others to discover on your own.

#6: Hire a property manager

While you don’t have to buy physical property to invest in real estate, there’s at least one strategy that can help you have your cake and eat it, too. Many investors who want exposure to rental real estate they can see and touch go ahead and buy rentals but then hire a property manager to do all the heavy lifting.

Lee Huffman, a travel and lifestyle writer for BaldThoughts.com, once told me he owns rental property in North Carolina but actually lives in California. While he tried to manage his properties from a distance at first, he ultimately chose to work with a property manager to save his sanity and his profits.

While he forks over 8-10% of gross rent to his manager, it was still “one of the best decisions he’s ever made” as a real estate investor, he says. “They take care of the rental property basics – minor repairs, vetting prospective tenants, collecting rents – so that I can focus on my career, family, and locating the next profitable rental property investment,” notes Huffman.

In that sense, he gets the benefits of being a landlord without all the hard work. “One of the most important roles that a property manager plays is that they act as a buffer between the tenant and me,” says Huffman. “I don’t receive random calls, texts, or emails from tenants at all hours of the day or night.”

The key to making sure this strategy works is ensuring you only invest in properties with enough cash flow to pay for a property manager and still score a sizeable rate of return.

#7: Invest in real estate notes

Real estate notes are a type of investment you can buy if you’re interested in investing in real estate but don’t necessarily want to deal with a brick-and-mortar building. When you’re investing in real estate notes through a bank, you’re typically buying debt at prices that are well below what a retail investor would pay.

I’ve invested in real estate notes in the past via an individual investor I know who purchases and renovates property. So far, my experiences have only been positive. However, I would conduct due diligence to ensure you know what you’re getting into whether you invest into real estate notes with a bank or a real estate investor who is actively pursuing new properties.

#8: Hard money loans

If you don’t like any of the other ideas on this list but have cash to lend, you can also consider giving a hard money loan. My friend Jim Wang of WalletHacks.com says he is currently investing in real estate with this strategy since he wants exposure but doesn’t want to deal with being a landlord. He also says the ROI (return on investment) for his time wouldn’t be as great as other opportunities since his time is valuable.

Hard money loans are basically a direct loan to a real estate investor, he says. Wang offers real estate loans to an investor he knows in person, and he receives a 12% return on his money as a result. Wang says he feels comfortable with the set-up since the investor is someone he knows, but he isn’t sure he would be comfortable with a stranger.

Either way, hard money loans directly to real estate investors are another strategy to consider if you want to invest in real estate but don’t want to deal with a property and the headaches that come with it.

#9: Invest in real estate online

Last but not least, don’t forget about all the new companies that have cropped up to help investors get involved in real estate without getting their hands dirty. Websites like Fundrise and Realty Mogul let you invest into commercial or residential real estate investments and receive cash flow distributions in return.

Investing with either company is similar to investing in REITs in that your money is pooled with cash from other investors who take advantage of the platform. The cash you invest may be used to purchase residential property, commercial real estate, apartment buildings, and more. Ultimately, you get the benefit of dividends and distributions and long-term appreciation of the properties you “own.”

While neither company has been around for too long, they are both performing well so far. Fundrise returned an average of 11.4% on invested dollars in 2017 net of fees and 9.11% in 2018 after all, and you don’t have to be an accredited investor to open an account.

Source: Forbes Media LLC

Experts make case for Islamic finance

Private and public sectors experts have affirmed the importance of the development of Islamic finance to the economy.

Experts agreed that Islamic finance holds immense opportunities for financing of critical infrastructure and unlocking dormant capital in Nigeria.

Experts spoke at the inaugural edition of the IFN Nigeria Forum organised by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in partnership with REDmoney Group.

The forum themed, “Harnessing the Islamic finance sector for infrastructure development and economic growth”,  brought together decision-makers, regulators and investors to discuss and share experiences on opportunities in the Nigerian Islamic finance market.

The IFN Nigeria Forum 2019 featured a mix of panel sessions, onstage interviews and interactive sessions on a number of themes in Islamic finance including corporate financing and capital raising in Nigeria; funding infrastructure and social welfare requirements in West Africa and Islamic finance, investment, banking and takaful in Nigeria.

Divisional Head, Trading Business, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr Jude Chiemeka, noted that Islamic finance sector has grown noticeably over the years, from about $1.5 trillion in 2016 to about $2 trillion in 2018, driven by growth in Islamic banking assets as well as growth in Sukuk issuances.

He pointed out that while this growth has largely been concentrated within GCC region and in Asia; recent data suggest that Islamic financing is beginning to take root in Africa, with issuers across Gambia, Sudan, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Togo, as well as Nigeria in more recent times.

Chiemeka, who represented the Chief Executive Officer of NSE, Mr Oscar Onyema, said Islamic finance marked a turning point and new paradigm for the financing of infrastructure in Nigeria with issuances such as the 2013 raising of N11.4 billion in a seven-year Sukuk by the Osun State Government to finance construction and rehabilitation of 27 schools in the state.

According to him, the subsequent issuance of two N100 billion tranches of Federal Government of Nigeria Sukuk instruments by the Debt Management Office (DMO) were huge success and the proceeds were also used to finance the maintenance and construction of critical road infrastructure across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

“The Islamic finance sector presents numerous opportunities for enhancing the economic fortunes of this country. From a domestic perspective, Islamic finance presents opportunities to unlock the dormant pools of capital present within our nation,” Chiemeka said.

He added that the development of a viable Islamic economy in Nigeria has far reaching implications within global markets, for investment managers seeking to achieve portfolio diversification.

According to him, the ability for fund managers seeking Shari’ah-compliant investment products to diversify into the Nigerian markets will facilitate more foreign inflows which has implications for the economy through the attraction of low-cost funds for development.

He assured that the NSE will continue to work with market stakeholders to ensure the development of a robust Islamic finance sector in Nigeria noting that the Exchange had in 2016 developed and publicized its rules governing the listing of Sukuk and similar debt securities to provide regulatory guidance for issuers seeking to list their instruments on its platform.

He added that in line with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) Non-Interest Capital Markets Product Master Plan, the Exchange identified five strategic pillars critical for the growth of the sector including a strong regulatory framework, capacity building, product development, robust primary and secondary markets, and market awareness programmes.

“We have already started executing on these pillars and recently hosted a training exercise for the market. We will also continue to provide an efficient and liquid market for investors and businesses in Africa, to save and access capital. We promise to continue our collaboration with all market stakeholders, to collectively contribute towards the enhancement of this new asset class, and ultimately towards the growth Islamic finance in Nigeria and Africa at large,” Chiemeka said.

Other speakers spoke on the opportunities in the Islamic finance sector. Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha, reiterated the commitment of the government to diversify the Nigerian capital market.

She noted that the government’s issuance of sovereign Sukuk was aimed simultaneously at raising funds to finance critical infrastructure and to develop the domestic capital market.

Other speakers at the event included Ms Mary Uduk, acting director-general, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC),represented by Abdulkadir Abbas; Hajia Aisha Dahir-Umar, acting director-general, National Pension Commission (Pencom), represented by Dr Umaru Farouk Aminu, Head, Research & Strategy Management Department, Pencom; Hajara Adeola, managing director, Lotus Capital; Adeola Sunmola, Partner, Udo Udoma & Belo Osagie and Oluseun Olatidoye, Head, Debt Capital Markets, FBNQuest Merchant Bank.

Source: thenationonlineng

NEPC’s partnership with Shoprite could mean well for Nigerian manufacturers

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has disclosed its plans to partner with one of Africa’s leading retailers, Shoprite, to promote export of Nigerian products.

The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Mr Olusegun Awolowo, disclosed this in Abuja while speaking to journalists. According to him, the partnership is aimed at promoting made in Nigeria products outside Nigeria, Africa and beyond.

Plans Explained: Awolowo made it known that the NEPC was planning on working with Nigerian exporting companies and together would leverage the Shoprite platform in order to increase the basket of exportable products from Nigeria to African markets.

He further noted that the partnership would help meet the council’s quest to bring made-in-Nigeria products to over 15 million Nigerians in the diaspora with a view to increasing the volume and value of the country’s non-oil exports hence it was going to be a win-win situation for Nigerian exporters and Shoprite.

 

More Details: The NEPC boss while showing his optimism, added that a Memorandum of Understanding would be considered and signed by both parties soon in order to actualise the objectives of the trade partnership.

 “This development is commendable and would help our exporting companies improve the quality of their products as well as build strong brands for Nigerian goods in the international market.” He said.

Meanwhile, speaking on how Nigerian goods will be distributed in the international market, the General Manager of Shoprite Nigeria, Mr Carl Erickson, said that the retail outlet was looking forward to expanding outside of the African continent as part of a strategic initiative to increase their operations and generally promote goods of African origin.

The partnership is a good development in that it would encourage the exportation of finished products from Nigeria. By so doing, Nigeria will better diversify its non-oil sectors and earn more foreign exchange from them.

Cory Booker unveils plan to combat housing ‘affordability crisis’

(CNN)Presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker unveiled a housing plan Wednesday to address an “affordability crisis” in the US, shining a national spotlight on an issue that has been at the center of his political identity for more than two decades.

“Making sure all Americans have the right to good housing is very personal to me,” the New Jersey Democrat said. “I’m determined to tear down the barriers that stand in the way of every American being able to do for their families what my parents did for mine.”
Booker’s plan, modeled after legislation he previously introduced in the Senate, focuses on a renters’ credit that he says would lift 9.4 million people out of poverty. In that regard, his proposal is similar to a plan by his 2020 rival Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat who has centered her own housing policy on a subsidy for low-income renters.
But Booker’s blueprint goes further than Harris’, with sweeping changes to restrictive zoning laws, coupled with federal incentives to build more affordable housing. Advocates have called for such changes in cities like Los Angeles, where homelessness has spiked sharply amid rising housing demand and prices.
Booker would also expand the right to counsel for low-income tenants fighting eviction, while targeting discriminatory and predatory housing market practices, and funding grants to combat homelessness.
Although this marks the first time he has highlighted these proposals as a presidential candidate, it’s far from a new policy push for Booker, who has homed in on the issue for decades.
After graduating from Yale Law School in 1997, Booker moved into a public housing complex in Newark called Brick Towers, where he began working as a tenant advocate taking on slumlords. He continued living there as he ran for City Council and later mayor, until shortly before the rundown building was demolished in 2007. He still lives in the same neighborhood today.
But as Booker often mentions on the campaign trail, housing was a personal issue for him even before he moved to Newark. When he was a baby, his parents integrated an affluent New Jersey suburb, enabling his brother and him to attend high-achieving public schools.
In his new plan, Booker would expand the Fair Housing Act to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Access to safe, affordable housing can be transformative in the trajectory of people’s lives,” Booker said. “My parents knew this when they moved my brother and me to a New Jersey town with good public schools in the face of racial discrimination. The tenants I represented against slumlords when I first moved to Newark knew it too. So did my neighbors in Brick Towers.”
In Booker’s plan, renters who spend more than 30% of their before-tax income on housing expenses would be eligible for a credit. His campaign cited a Columbia University study showing the policy would help more than 57 million people.
His proposal would seek to increase the supply of affordable housing with a carrot-and-stick approach, by tying federal infrastructure grants to demonstrated progress on the local level while committing $40 billion to building new units.
Booker also would incorporate an element of his criminal justice efforts into his housing plan by nixing a “one strike” eviction policy in public housing, in which a tenant and his family can be pushed out for a first-time offense, including drug use.

The Trump Administration Can Make Housing More Affordable By Letting The QM Patch Expire

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Treasury Department is “putting the finishing touches” on a plan to return Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private-shareholder ownership. According to the report, if this plan is carried out, “the companies could return to a status similar to how they operated before the financial crisis.”

Allowing these companies to operate in a fashion even remotely similar to how they did before the crisis would be a tragic mistake.

What’s really needed is for Washington to end, permanently, the government-protected duopoly of Fannie and Freddie. Unfortunately, Congress has showed no real interest in doing so.

Through the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, the Federal Housing Administration and newly appointed Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria, the administration can, however, take some useful steps on its own to replace the companies’ role in housing finance with private firms—provided, of course, that Treasury’s “finishing touches” won’t get in the way.

Whatever Treasury’s plan may be, reforms that shrink the government’s role cannot come soon enough for people who need more affordable housing. All Fannie and Freddie did before the financial crisis – and all they do now – is incentivize more and more housing debt, making homes more expensive.

AEI’s newly released housing price data show exactly how harmful these government policies are, especially for folks with lower income. From 2012, the lower price tier of homes has seen the most appreciation of all the tiers: nearly a 60 percent rise in prices. Those at the higher end of the market, on the other hand, have increased only about 15 percent, with relatively little appreciation since 2017.

Source: Forbes

AFR Ranked as a National Top Mortgage Lender

 American Financial Resources, Inc. (AFR) has been honored again as a Scotsman Guide Top Mortgage Lender. Recognized as one of the nation’s leading companies in overall volume, AFR ranked 10th in correspondent volume and moved up to 14th in wholesale volume.

Scotsman Guide, a leading resource for mortgage originators, just released its seventh annual Top Mortgage Lenders rankings.

“AFR is proud to confirm its ranking as a top mortgage company. Our focus has been and continues to be on market segments where our expertise makes a difference. We take great pride in offering, and helping to navigate, a wide variety of loan programs and appreciate the continued consideration as a national leader,” said Bill Packer, executive vice president and chief operating officer, American Financial Resources. “We are excited to be recognized at a national level, once again, and look forward to continue growing our role as an innovative leader, delivering exceptional service and fulfilling our mission to help bring more families home.”

AFR was ranked among entries from hundreds of mortgage companies across the country. To be eligible, AFR provided verified qualitative data regarding loan volume from mortgages on one- to four-unit residential properties in the United States. Using the data, Scotsman Guide affirmed AFR’s impact as a leading mortgage lender.

About American Financial Resources (AFR)
American Financial Resources, Inc. (AFR), the leading FHA 203(k) lender for sponsored originations in the country and an innovator in the construction and renovation lending area, is ranked among the nation’s leading mortgage lenders. AFR utilizes the latest technology and delivers educational resources to mortgage brokers, loan originators, correspondents and their customers.

About Scotsman Guide
Scotsman Guide Media is the nation’s largest provider of digital and print resources for the mortgage-origination industry. The magazines also are available in digital format. Each month, the magazines reach tens of thousands of subscribers nationwide. Scotsman Guide is the leading resource for mortgage originators and connects mortgage brokers with wholesale and commercial lenders.

Source: Finance

Reuters poll indicate India’s moribund housing market is stuck in low gear

The outlook for India’s moribund property market has brightened somewhat, with house prices this year expected to rise more than predicted three months ago, but those increases will still be the weakest in at least a decade, a Reuters poll found.

Until 2015, India’s annual property price growth had typically been in the double digits. However, more recently a ban on high value currency notes and a liquidity shortage driven by bad debts on banks’ balance sheets have led to a cooling in lending and a housing inventory pile-up.

The latest poll of 18 property analysts taken May 10-June 3 showed home prices are expected to rise 2.3% nationally this year, up from 1.3% predicted in March but well below overall inflation.

That is much slower than last year, when house prices rose at an average rate of 5.6%, already its weakest since at least 2010, when the Reserve Bank of India started tracking changes in house prices.

House prices are expected to rise 2.5% next year and 3.8% in 2021, well below the projected pace of consumer price inflation for those periods.

But those modest rates might not even be realised as over 80% of analysts who answered an additional question said their outlook for the housing market was skewed more to the downside.

That comes despite two RBI rate cuts this year and strong chances of another one this week, although analysts are split on whether an easing would be a good idea or not.

“Five years are too short a time to undo decades of damage. The industry stakeholders have given this government the benefit of the doubt. However, with a fresh term in hand, this government will have to deliver on a lot of initiatives,” said Anuj Puri, chairman at ANAROCK Property Consultants.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, introduced a host of incentives to shore up the struggling real-estate market last year.

Modi’s party gained a huge parliamentary majority in an election last month.

“The residential sector has endured significant pain over the last few years, but the NDA government’s return to power will reassure investors of stability and continued focus on growth,” said Aashish Agarwal, head of consulting services at Colliers International India.

“While recovery will be slow and led by reputed developers in select micro-markets, a large part of the market will continue to suffer from construction delays caused by the liquidity crunch.”

What started as a bad loan problem in the banking sector last year slowly morphed into a full-blown liquidity crisis, which forced one of the largest infrastructure lending companies, IL&FS, to default on its interest payments.

“When funding becomes scarce, as a developer you become really pressurised to hive off your inventory as fast as possible,” said Rohan Sharma, head of research at Cushman & Wakefield India.

“This creates a barrier for a price run to happen even if there is demand.”

A regional breakdown of the latest Reuters poll data showed Delhi and Mumbai, India’s two most populous cities, will not contribute much to property price growth.

House prices in Delhi, including National Capital Region, were forecast to fall 2.5% this year and stagnate next year. In Mumbai they were expected to rise 0.5% and 1.0%, respectively.

“Delhi (including NCR) and Mumbai witnessed spiraling housing prices which often didn’t match with the affordability of the larger consumer base,” said Anshuman Magazine, regional chairman and CEO at CBRE.

A majority of analysts rated Delhi and Mumbai average house prices either “extremely overvalued” or “overvalued”.

However, two-thirds of the same pool of analysts said houses were fairly valued in the southern cities of Bengaluru and Chennai. Property prices in both cities were forecast to rise 2.0-3.5% over the next two years.

Source: Yahoo News

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