This Week in Real Estate, Feb. 23, 2015

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Good Morning!

While the FTC completed its review of the Zillow acquisition of Trulia this week, allowing the transaction to close, the legal maneuvering just begins. The issue of syndication dominates the headlines again for This Week in Real Estate. Below are a few of the highlights from the third week in February that influence our business:

*  Battle of the Portals: ListHub to end syndication agreement with Trulia early; Zillow group fires back with restraining order. On Thursday Move Inc., operators of realtor.com, announced its listing management service, ListHub, will end its syndication agreement with Trulia as of next week. Zillow announced Friday it has filed for a temporary restraining order on that move to keep listings going to Trulia. “This action is a result of the completion of Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia this week, and the upcoming dissolution of ListHub’s syndication relationship with Zillow this April,” stated ListHub’s general manager Celeste Starchild. On Friday Move Inc. issued the following response to Zillow’s temporary restraining order: “What a difference two days make! On Wednesday, Spencer Rascoff (Zillow CEO) was celebrating the ‘liberating moment’ when ‘we announced we were parting ways with News Corp,’ and how they ‘were really freed from the constraint of being reliant on a competitor for listings,’ listings he (inaccurately) described as ‘inferior.’ Today, they say that the ‘sudden’ loss of those listings is ‘an incredible hardship for agents and consumers.'” Full Story… http://www.housingwire.com/articles/33011-zillow-group-launches-legal-fight-to-keep-listhub-listings-on-trulia

* Mortgage rates move higher on strong jobs report. Freddie Mac released this week the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey, showing average fixed mortgage rates moving higher amid a strong employment report. Regardless, fixed-rate mortgage rates still remain near their May 23, 2013 lows. “Mortgage rates rose last week following strong economic data,” says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac. The economy added 257,000 new jobs in January after robust increases of 329,000 in December and 423,000 in November. Full Story… http://freddiemac.mwnewsroom.com/press-releases/mortgage-rates-rise-for-second-consecutive-week-otcqb-fmcc-1176375

*  Fed appears to hesitate on raising interest rate. The Federal Reserve is not sounding like an institution that is ready to raise its benchmark interest rate in June. “You can almost hear a little hesitation in the committee,” said Zach Pandl, senior interest rate strategist at the investment firm Columbia Management. “They sound confident on the economy, but nervous on pulling the trigger on rate hikes.” The economy is growing strongly, and the statement the Fed issued after the January meeting was its most upbeat since the end of the recession in 2009. That optimism has since been reinforced by the government’s latest jobs report, released this month, which estimated that strong employment gains at the end of 2014 continued at a healthy pace in January. Many officials were concerned that raising rates prematurely “might damp the apparent solid recovery,” potentially forcing the Fed to reverse course.” Full Story… http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/business/economy/fed-january-policy-making-meeting-minutes.html?_r=1

*  Realtors applaud FAA proposed rule to allow commercial drone use for real estate. Under the new FAA proposal, drones that weigh less than 55 pounds would be able to fly up to 500 feet above the ground at speeds up to 100 mph. Drone operators would have to obtain a special unmanned operating certificate, and follow a handful of restrictions, including keeping the drone within sight, and avoiding hazards like restricted airspace, people, airports, and other planes. “Today’s action does not authorize widespread commercial use of unmanned aircraft. That can only happen when the rule is final,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. “In the meantime operators must go through the current process for a waiver or exemption to fly.” Full Story… http://www.inman.com/2015/02/16/proposed-drone-rules-applauded-by-nar/

Have a productive week!
Jason

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