MReport October 2020

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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48 | M R EP O RT O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T THE LATEST ORIGINATION Could Remote Work Fuel New Homeownership Wave? Two-thirds of renters would consider buying if they were able to continue working from home. T he new era of working from home brought by the coronavirus pan- demic could also spark a massive new wave of home- ownership, according to a data analysis conducted by Zillow. The aspirations of renters dreaming of homeownership is not new. Indeed, an earlier Zillow survey from the Harris Poll found 66% of renters said they would consider buying if they were able to continue working from home. As a result of remote work, Zillow estimated that nearly 2 million renter households who cannot afford to buy a home in their areas would be now be able to move elsewhere in the country and purchase an affordable starter home. These renter households represent 4.5% of the current rental housing population. Millennials could become the greatest seg- ment to gain a homeownership foothold due to their ability to live and work anywhere, Zillow added. The most expensive housing markets could see a dramatic exo- dus of renters. Zillow highlighted San Francisco as an example, where 22% of renters priced out of their metro could afford the roughly $7,200 monthly payments on a typical U.S. starter home. However, there are excep- tions to this scenario. In markets such as El Paso, Pittsburgh and Rochester, the share of affordable starter homes is higher than the national average, which means potential local buyers would be paying more if they chose to relocate elsewhere. "If remote work becomes a bona fide long-term option especially with the pandemic, that could reshape the U.S. housing market by opening up home- ownership to people renting in expensive parts of the country," Zillow Economist Jeff Tucker said. "However, it's unclear how many people would make the move to buy their first home. Proximity to work is just one of the factors people consider when choosing where to live. Other factors may keep them from moving including proximity to friends and family, cultural and natural amenities, and their kids' schools." Google Policy Shift Could Impact Reverse Mortgage Advertisers Lenders will no longer be able to target customers based on age. R everse mortgage lenders using Google to target prospective borrowers will soon have to find another online advertising vehicle for their products and services. The tech giant informed its advertisers that it will update its personalized advertising policies on October 19 to include new targeting restrictions for housing, employment and credit products to audiences based on age, gender, marital and parental status, and ZIP code. The new policy, which was first reported in Reverse Mortgage Daily, will only apply to advertisements aimed at U.S. and Canadian users. The new policy follows through on a statement published in June on Google's corporate blog by Scott Spencer, VP of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Safety, which previewed policy changes that were formulated through a partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "This policy will prohibit im- pacted employment, housing, and credit advertisers from targeting or excluding ads based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code, in addition to our longstanding policies prohibiting personalization based on sensitive categories like race, religion, eth- nicity, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability," Spencer said. While Spencer's comments from June did not cite age-target- ed advertisement, updated policy included that criteria in order to achieve what Google termed as "an effort to improve inclusivity for users disproportionately af- fected by societal biases." Although Google is present- ing its policy shift as an effort to stamp out age-based discrimina- tion, it also creates a problem for reverse mortgage lenders whose products are designed for a spe- cific age group. The Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) program backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is designed for borrowers aged 62 and older, while several propri- etary reverse mortgage products can only be accessed by those ages 60 and higher. Google has not released data on how much of its online advertis- ing is based on reverse mortgage advertising. However, the sector had been poised for increased growth based on increasing levels of housing wealth among seniors. In the most recent data, home- owners 62 and older enjoyed a 1.6% increase in their housing dur- ing the first quarter of this year, reaching a record of $7.54 trillion, according to the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association/ RiskSpan Reverse Mortgage Market Index data released in June.

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