April 2016

Drip Training

by Victor Lund on April 28, 2016

Leaf dripping water

I love a morning call with a report of success. A broker that I am working with moved their chips around the board, renewing a core vendor agreement and adding five new services without any incremental costs. Bust out the champagne, right? Not so fast. The panic moment hits you when you understand that you will be launching five new products. A few of them are background products that support the operation of the brokerage – accounting type stuff. But a few of them are consumer launches and agent launches. Put the champagne away and start to whiteboard out the launch of each product. Launch event, video training, webinars, tips of the day, help desk training, manager training, individual agent training and support, consumer advertising, website update, public relations, reporting, benchmarking, satisfaction monitoring. All of that is being added to a staff that is already fully utilized. The term drip training popped into my mind. Drip training is not an original concept. I Googled it and found an article from BrainStorm dating back to September 9th, 2015. It’s a great article that you should read. Drip system Seed (input) Nourishment Delivery method Harvest (output) The BrainStorm article is a bit out of context for the types of product launches that we support here at WAV Group. We help brokers launch to thousands of agents and MLSs launch to tens of thousands of agents. Typically, the consumer audience for broker and MLS products aims to reach millions. It’s all good! These are problems that are nice to have. But there is a lesson here that we all should be reminded of. Kevin Hawkins of WAV Group Communications hinted at it last month: “a goal without a plan is a wish.” And WAV Group is always aware that many times, something old is better than many things that are shiny and new. Before you take on a list of new products, make sure that you are not disposing of some old goodies that people love. And, make sure that your new stuff is properly launched and supported right out of the gate. WAV Group does a lot more than help our clients with vendor selection. We help usher the products into your organization so you obtain the strategic objectives of the company. It’s never about the tools you have; it’s always been about the way you use them. WAV Group will be at NAR Midyear. We […]

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Let WAV Group Do The Legwork for You! WAVES OF CHANGE is a webinar series that provides an opportunity for MLSs, Brokerages and Associations to tap into the imperative information shared at the major Real Estate Industry Conferences, regardless if you attend or not. We provide the “cliff notes” that help move your organization and the industry forward in an online session after the conference. Each session is also recorded for members of your leadership team that were not able to attend the conference. SUBSCRIBE TODAY to join progressive MLSs, Brokerages and Associations who already count on our quarterly WAVes of Change webinars in navigating the ever-changing waters of the Real Estate Industry and the challenges that we have in common. We do the legwork for you by attending the significant conferences, doing extensive research, conducting in-depth surveys, etc. We then provide your organization with quarterly updates and share our presentations on the essential research findings, the latest technologies, consumer insights, broker and agent issues, as well as provide pertinent information on potential industry threats and opportunities. Don’t miss our Post-NAR Midyear Webinar. Subscribe to the WOC Series today! WAVES OF CHANGE POST-NAR WEBINAR Thursday, May 26th 11:00 a.m. PST Your annual subscription will empower you and up to fifty of your members and associates to stay at the top of your game with vital knowledge without costly travel, conference fees or loss of productivity. You will also have access to our presentations. Additional Subjects: A First Look at WAV Group Research Results Industry Expert Insights on Technology Trends and Customer Demands Real Solutions to Broker and Agent Challenges Tips to Improve Relevance and Increase Viability Updates on Upstream, Broker Public Portal and RESO For more information or to subscribe to the series, please contact Marilyn@WAVGroup.com

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REDPLAN™ Partners with CMLS

by Victor Lund on April 26, 2016

REDPLAN is a non-profit organization of brokers, technology companies, associations of REALTORS® and MLSs who have joined together to protect the copyrighted materials and intellectual property rights of our industry. The organization supports the pursuit of data pirates, scrapers, and other participants of the black market of real estate data. Victor Lund of WAV Group joined the REDPLAN board last year. “REDPLAN is focused on the most important issue in real estate today, protecting the industry’s data,” says Lund. “There are some MLS and brokerage organizations who are very hygienic with their data protections, but most are not. REDPLAN aims to create best practices, find nefarious data mining operations, and support litigation efforts.” According to Lund, “Every MLS and broker should be engaged in this effort.” REDPLAN was founded by a number of likeminded individuals who are bound by the same dedication to protect our industry’s data. The pioneers include many outstanding leaders, especially Gregg Larson of Clareity Consulting and Darity Wesley of Lotus Law Center. The board also includes John Mosey of NorthstarMLS, John Leonardi of BNAR, Martin Scrocchi of Instanet, Merri Jo Cowen of MFRMLS, Ira Luntz of Real Estate Digital, Claude Szyfer of Stroock, and Chris Galler of Minnesota AOR, and Victor Lund of WAV Group. The group has made some outstanding contributions to the industry in the few short years of its existence, including the development of a data license agreement template, the creation of a legal defense fund, the development of a forms repository, among others. The Council of MLS (CMLS) has long recognized the value of REDPLAN in the industry, and has supported REDPLAN with numerous opportunities to communicate to the CMLS membership about the issues and best practices of managing the intellectual property of the industry. In an announcement made today, CMLS will be formally partnering with REDPLAN to continue to explore ways to work more closely together to embrace this ambitious agenda. The first step was made at the last REDPLAN Board of Directors meeting where Denee Evans, CEO of CMLS, was welcomed onto the board. “The synergies and efficiencies of cooperation will benefit both organizations,” said Gregg Larson, Chairman of the REDPLAN Board. CMLS serves to advance the MLS industry in North America through unified leadership, collaboration, and education across the real estate industry. CMLS members include MLS providers with over 1 million subscribers.

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Consumer Questions a Broker Website Must Answer

by Victor Lund on April 25, 2016

Businessman Protecting Piggy Bank And House Model

There are less than 2% of the homes for sale around the nation today. Typically, that number is 3.5%. Hence we are in a sellers’ market. So the consumer thinks – “Where am I in the market?” What Home Can I Buy? Over 90% of consumers looking to purchase a home have one to sell. The rest are currently renters or second home purchasers. Buying a home is never about buying what you want. It is always about buying what is right for you. The old story of Location, Location, Location is a bit lost on me today, unless it stands for Location Convenience, Location Suitability, and Location Affordability. There may be some others, like Location Timing as well. Regardless of where you live, there are places where you need to go – like work, school, shopping, or whatever. Where you live as a proximity to those things counts for you. I love TLCengine because it allows consumers to plot those points of interest and find properties in the radius of convenience. This also has a major influence on affordability as proximity mitigates commute times, insurance prices, childcare costs, etc. Unfortunately, I think that the application is only available in the NorthstarMLS market area MLS. Suitability is more of a lifestyle question. How do you flow in your home? Beds, garages, yards, kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, and local area amenities change the attractiveness of a location based upon the suitability to the people living in the property and in the neighborhood. This is why I think that lifestyle search engines like Onboard Informatics is so important to consumers. Affordability is perhaps the biggest concern. Consumers choose unrealistic price ranges all of the time when they are searching. They really need to be pre-qualified before they can truly search for a home unless they are paying cash. What about closing costs and estimated and historical property taxes? Most broker websites do not have the information to understand this unless they are licensing data from CoreLogic or some other source. I love that CoreLogic is planning to make this data available to website vendors through their new RETS server called Trestle. It will open the innovation door wide! What’s My Home Worth? That is a loaded question, one that created the most valuable company in real estate – Zillow. Half of the real estate industry pivots around this question, as it […]

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Blow Away Your Broker Profit Goals

by Marilyn Wilson on April 20, 2016

Leverage

Top 5 Reasons to Leverage MLS Listing Data in Your Brokerage Today MLS data can make a lot of the systems in a brokerage work more smoothly and can create new ways to serve the needs of your clients while helping your brokerage be more competitive. I have been working a lot recently with brokers who are finding new ways to provide better service to their agents, sellers and home buyers by integrating their systems with MLS data in new and meaningful ways. Here are five benefits of integrating your systems with MLS data and how they can help your business be more profitable. 1. More Traffic to Your Website Today, every MLS is REQUIRED to offer you SOLDs in your IDX feed if you so choose. Why can SOLDs be a benefit? First, they can make your site more competitive with the depth of content offered on third party sites. Second, it can give consumers a reason to engage earlier on your site while they’re in the early research phases of their search. It can also help engage potential sellers looking to see how much their home is worth in today’s market. 2. Improve Professionalism Today, many of the online transaction management companies out there like Docusign, Form Simplicity, ZipLogix and others have easy ways to populate forms with live MLS data. The data then passes through to all of the documents that will be used in the transaction seamlessly eliminating the need for redundant data entry which inevitably leads to mistakes. A lack of attention to detail is one of the things that consumers complain about most. This is a great way to eliminate that problem. 3. Close Deals Faster Time is of the essence when an agent secures a listing. By using marketing automation systems like Imprev and others, property flyers and additional marketing materials can be built in real-time using MLS listing information saving hours and even days of turnaround time. These systems help you create a more consistent brand presence, provide better service to your agents and help you start to market your properties much more quickly with a push of a button. Our clients who use these types of systems LOVE them. They have freed up their marketing team to focus on corporate marketing programs, brand enhancements and other more strategic projects. 4. Reduce Staff Time and Cost Many of the industry-centric accounting packages […]

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Be Uncomfortable

by Victor Lund on April 20, 2016

Man with ideas

It is pretty well known that Google is now Alphabet – a re-imagined company that is comprised of a variety of businesses around the focus of organizing the world’s information to make it universally accessible and useful. Building a new brand on top of Google was an uncomfortable decision, but there is much to be learned from it. The Alphabet Companies (full list here) Google – Search Engine, Android, Gmail, and YouTube Calico – Healthcare company aimed at extending life Verily – Smart contact lenses X Labs – Research and Development Deep Mind – Artificial Intelligence Access – high-speed internet Jigsaw – think tank/tech incubator The company really did not change its structure, but the company did restate its structure differently and explained it. The uncomfortable re-imagination worked on Wall Street – as the company overtook Apple as the worlds most valuable company (albeit temporarily as today Google is worth $598.73 billion and Apple is worth $651.5 billion – what’s a $50B swing one way or another?) Real Estate could learn quite a bit from this. At the heart of Google is the vision to never become complacent. Great companies operate uncomfortably. Great companies take moon shots. Examples in Real Estate Brokerage – Pacific Union: Dissatisfied with listing presentation software, they built the Pacific Union DLP – Digital Listing Presentation. It is not only mobile enabled and beautiful, it is elegant and clearly born from the culture of a great brand. It was time consuming to develop. It cost five-times as much as anything they could have licensed. It could have been a disaster. It was an uncomfortable risk. It resulted contributing to one of the most remarkable growth spurts of any brokerage operating at enterprise scale – adding 20%+ growth year after year and becoming the 9th largest brokerage firm in America in the face of very strong competition. MLS – MRIS: For years, MRIS was atop the leaderboard as the largest MLS in the nation. They are among the only MLSs in the nation that do quarterly benchmarking for every department measured against user satisfaction. They measure their satisfaction goal on every calendar for departmental excellence. Internally, they hit on all cylinders. To become uncomfortable, they are working with TREND MLS to make the service offering even bigger, even better. This is not their first effort either. They also manage many of the nation’s largest MLS data sharing cooperatives. […]

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A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish

by Kevin Hawkins on April 20, 2016

Coin Flip

A French writer wrote this line – “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” It often pops into my head when I read a trade story about a hot new real estate tech company that upon closer inspection, isn’t a company at all, but an idea in search of a business plan. I also find myself thinking about the same thing when I walk through a conference where startup firms are lined up. I pay a game in my head call “product or product feature.” It seems that so many tech startups in real estate are really just a feature that should be rolled into another product that is offered by an established company. Most often with these new tech startups, there isn’t enough “there there” with the product to justify building a company around. Real estate tech conferences need a professional match-maker who walks around to counsel these firms solely on what product their product feature would best fit, and find a way to marry their innovation off that company. You’re no Google At one conference, I challenged the founder of one of these firms on the viability of his product when it became clear he had no idea how he was going to generate revenue. The CEO argued that Google didn’t have a revenue plan. Google. Really? You are going to compare yourself to Google? I bit my tongue and almost found myself paraphrasing President Ronald Reagan’s retort by saying “You’re no Google.” Not to be too cynical, but there continues to be too much hubris and not enough substance in the plans for some real estate tech firms. Their hockey stick projections that they are selling to the VCs are based on fairy tales of product adoption rates that have never been achieved in real estate. It feels like there are 500 companies all offering the hottest real estate tech for agents at just under $20 or $50 a month. When you ask how many sales they think they can hit, they talk about 10% of the 1.2 million agents as being a “conservative” number. My math says that’s 120,000 agents, paying $20 a month, or $2.4 million in gross sales per month, nearly a $29 million a year business all from one product. No wonder the VCs are throwing money at so many of these firms. That’s sounds great, sounds easy even. Until it […]

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Fox and Roach Reports Success With Buyside

by Victor Lund on April 20, 2016

About Buyside Website

There are a lot of technology applications that look promising, none more so than the recent launch of their Home Valuation System on foxroach.com powered by Buyside™. Fox and Roach is the largest Berkshire Hathaway Home Services company. Their offices cover many regions including Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware. In WAV Group broker website effectiveness studies, BHHS Fox & Roach ranks in the top 10 for the most traffic of any broker in America. Last month, they launched the Home Valuation System, built by Buyside™ that created a landing page for every off- market property and IDX listings in their market footprint. About Buyside            Innovating Ahead of Competition This is a broker-friendly solution that provides benefits beyond Zillow® the national leader in displaying data on off-market properties. The goal of the strategy is to develop seller leads for their agents, and engage buyers and property owners with good information about property values and the ability to track a home. We are huge fans of the use of three property values, known as AVMs. “I think that the shortfall with the Zestimate™ is that it has only one AVM opinion,” says Steve Storti, BHHS Fox & Roach’s Chief Marketing Officer. “By introducing the RVM™ from Realtors Property Resource and two other AVM’s (including the Zestimate™) we tell the consumer the real story about AVMs – they are all just mathematical estimates and it’s best to talk to a local agent for the most accurate professional assessment of your home.” Success by the Numbers In the first 45 days, Foxroach.com has had almost 51,000 valuation attempts done on their agent branded landing pages powered by Buyside™. It’s important to note that BHHS Fox and Roach rolled this feature out on both the broker site and agent websites. The broker site generated 68% of the traffic with just under over 34,000 of the valuations, and incredibly over 1300 agents participated in generating the other 32% or 16,000 for their own agent sites. There is truly a network effect that occurs when agents leverage the broker provided co-branded websites. BHHS Fox and Roach leverages the CoreLogic AgentAchieve™ broker and agent website platform which provides easy integration of the Buyside application. Buyside has also integrated CoreLogic’s ePropertyWatch into the BHHS Fox & Roach’s Home Valuation System. With ePropertyWatch, consumers can register to get an automated monthly email with […]

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3 Ways for MLSs to Frustrate and Alienate Brokers

by Marilyn Wilson on April 20, 2016

No!

SOLDS, VOWS and the RESO Data Dictionary are NOT Optional for MLSs Some MLSs are creating unnecessary and even illegal challenges for their brokers as well as for the technology suppliers that support their brokers, by not complying with NAR rules…some of which that have been in place for YEARS! I hear regularly from brokers and technology vendors that they run into roadblocks all the time when they try to access SOLDs for their IDX feed, a Virtual Office Website (VOW) data feed and most recently, the RESO Data Dictionary dataset. I’m going to start with a little history lesson to help MLSs understand there are three data programs that are part of the NAR family, that are NOT optional for MLSs. IDX feed including SOLDS Required Brokers from the Leading Real Estate Companies of the world fought hard for MLSs to provide the option for brokers to include SOLDs in their IDX data feed. Some brokers really like the idea of including SOLDs on their website. They believe it helps them to be more competitive with third party sites, it provides a better consumer experience as well as encouraging more traffic and engagement. To address these important broker needs, the NAR MLS Policy Committee approved a rule that requires an MLS to provide SOLDs in the IDX data feed as requested by a broker. The first rule was approved in late 2014, the language was then amended to address non-disclosure states more specifically in late 2015. Here’s the official language: “If “sold” information is publicly accessible, display of “sold” listings may not be prohibited.” Even though this rule was put in place almost two years ago there are still several MLSs and some technology vendors who do not offer this option to their brokers. NAR rules state that any approved IDX policy must be live in every MLS no later than 90 days after the ruling has been ratified. I’m not sure why an MLS thinks that limiting the data and ultimately the value they can deliver to their customers is a good idea, but there are several that still do. If you are one of these MLSs that has refused to comply with this regulation or is simply not aware of this requirement, it’s time to get on with it! If you are an IDX or website vendor that has not yet complied with this rule and does […]

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robot

Robots are cool. High school students building 120-pound robots in just six weeks to compete in sporting-like competition with and against other robots is cooler. Being a mentor for a local FIRST Robotics team, Spartronics Team 4915 of Bainbridge Island, Washington since it’s inception three years ago is the coolest, most rewarding, non-profit volunteering experience I have ever had. I have learned so much, and it got me to thinking about a couple of concepts that define FIRST and how it relates to what I do. So what could the real estate industry learn from FIRST Robotics? First About FIRST 25 years ago, Dean Kamen, an inventor extraordinaire, and MIT Mechanical Engineering Professor Dr. Woodie Flowers, created FIRST Robotics. They wanted to find a way to transform our culture from celebrating our sports and entertainment stars, to creating a world where students dream to become science and technology leaders. FIRST – or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology – offers robotics programs for grades K-12. The top tier – FIRST Robotics Competition or FRC – is comprised of high school-aged teams who compete head to head on a special playing field with robots they have designed, built, and programmed. The game that is played changes every year and combines the excitement of sport with the rigors of science and technology and why it is called the “Sport for the Mind.” More than 3,000 FRC teams, 75,000 students, 19,000 mentors in 24 countries all start their robot build on the same day in early January and must finish and “bag” their robot on the same day, six weeks later. The kickoff day for the “build season” unveils the game to be played each year. This year’s game is called Stronghold, and consists of two Alliances: a red Alliance and a blue Alliance. Each Alliance consists of three teams, randomly selected for the initial matches. Each team has four players (coach, driver, shooter, and human player) and their robot, which is custom designed and built. No two robots are ever the same. Cooperating and Competing Unique to FIRST Robotics is a philosophy and culture that may sound very familiar to real estate agents. Real estate sales may be the only business where your competitor is also your collaborator, and the person you are competing against also may be responsible for your next paycheck. In FIRST, this concept is called Coopertition®. […]

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Real Estate Around the Nation

by Victor Lund on April 13, 2016

House for sale / sold

Home building has been the last area of the real estate market to recover from the recession. Generally, it’s believed that builders were hit the hardest during the recession. Many builders use leverage to purchase land and take loans for home building. When the investment market for these loans dried up and the value of the land collapsed, many were forced to downsize, cease operations, or in some cases shutter everything. Coming out of the recession, builders have been slow to get started. It took a number of years for the market to work through the distressed and bank owned properties. Meanwhile, population growth continues in America and the lack of inventory remains a key issue. Last month, CoreLogic reported that about 1.7% of homes are for sale. This is about half of the normal inventory amount. The lack of inventory is driving transaction prices up even as unit volume remains steady. Home builders play a key role in supplying inventory to the market. Here are the home builder stats around the nation for March. Hot Markets The hot markets in America are The San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Orlando. Orlando being the surprise here. They were hard hit by the foreclosure crisis but have been quick to rebound. Most Improved Sacramento, Tampa, and San Diego were the biggest gainers in March. Posting higher transaction growth against their peers. Midwest Weakness Cleveland, Chicago and Cincinnati were the weakest for home builders. Biggest Drops Houston, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Southeast Florida, and Denver showed the largest drops in overall production for March.   Zelman is the leading publisher of real estate related market monitoring. To subscribe to Zelman, visit http://www.zelmanassociates.com

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Upstream Update From CMLS

by Victor Lund on April 12, 2016

cmls logo

CMLS gets the scoop on this latest UpstreamRE release. Kathy Condon of CMLS was able to connect with UpstreamRE spokesperson Craig Cheatham to catch up on the progress made on the development side in the first three months of the year since the vendor agreement was signed. As a reminder, CMLS is hosting a “bring it to the table” meeting on Tuesday, May the 10th in Washtington D.C. For those of you attending the NAR Midyear meetings – you may want to fly in a day early for this meeting. It’s one of the best ways to get a 360 degree review of all of the presessing issues in the world of MLS. It sells out fast – so visit the Council of MLS website today to reserve your spot http://councilofmls.com/cmls-opens-brings-it-to-the-table-priority-registration-for-members/ From The CMLS President……. Shortly after the Project Upstream concept was first revealed last year, CMLS promised to keep you informed about the status of this initiative and seek collaboration with the developers in order to share member knowledge and experience. I am pleased to report that our organization has met these objectives. CMLS Past President Shelley Specchio, CEO of Northern Nevada Regional MLS, has been invited to serve on the Technology Work Group that monitors the development of Upstream. Her involvement will play a critical role in ensuring the MLS industry has a voice in the development of this software and provide an early opportunity to review it in an effort to develop best practices and member standards upon its adoption. Her work will not be alone. According to the first Upstream Update that was sent exclusively to CMLS from Upstream officially, some brokers are participating in initial testing along with their MLS organizations. Their involvement will incorporate MLS business rules into the system. Upstream has also committed to provide us with regular updates. While this represents phenomenal progress in developing a collaborative relationship with Upstream, it is important to note that CMLS has still not taken a positon, nor have we attempted to predict the potential impact of this project on MLSs and the industry at large. It is still too early to do any of these things. Our commitment remains consistent in supporting innovations that improve the ability of our members to better serve their constituents by ensuring an orderly marketplace with cooperation and compensation among brokers. We will continue to explore innovations that provide for the […]

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Don’t miss this webinar moderated by WAV Group partner, Marilyn Wilson. Cloud CMA FREE Webinar! Thursday, April 14th at 10:00am PST Seats are limited so make sure you register today!     How To Use CMAs to Generate Seller Leads Join W&R Studios’ National Trainer and real estate speaker Ricardo Bueno and listing rockstar April Kass as they dive deep into everything you need to know to start generating and closing more seller leads today! ATTENDEE.GOTOWEBINAR.COM

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Are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Going Away?

by Marilyn Wilson on April 1, 2016

Fannie Mae Image

A new paper issued by a robust group of government and economic leaders in the real estate economy have outlined a proposal to merge Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into a new government-owned corporation.  Currently both organizations are government-regulated, but privately owned. According to the paper the goal of the proposal is to overhaul the mortgage lending process to accomplish the following: “This would facilitate a deep, broad and competitive primary and secondary mortgage market; limit the taxpayer’s risk to where it is absolutely necessary; ensure broad access to the system for borrowers in all communities; and ensure a level playing field for lenders of all sizes.” The new government-owned corporation to be name the National Mortgage Reinsurance Corporation would continue to provide the same services of providing federal guarantee on mortgage-based securities as well as issuing affordable loans to consumers. According to the paper: “The NMRC would purchase conforming single-family and multifamily mortgage loans from originating lenders or aggregators, and issue securities backed by these loans through a single issuing platform that the NMRC.” The paper suggests that the new entity would be able to encourage more investment by charging lower fees than the current system when investors are more willing to take on risk, but higher fees when investors are more cautious, the Journal reported. The NMRC would differ greatly from its predecessor organizations. “The NMRC would differ from Fannie and Freddie, however, in several important respects. It would be required to transfer all non- catastrophic credit risk on the securities that it issues to a broad range of private entities. Its mortgage-backed securities would be backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, for which it would charge an explicit guarantee fee, or g-fee, sufficient to cover any risk that the government takes. And while the NMRC would maintain a modest portfolio with which to manage distressed loans and aggregate single- and multifamily loans for securitization, it cannot use that portfolio for investment purpose.” As some of you may know, I am on the Board of Directors of the National Small Business Association.  From my recent experiences working with this group and lobbying on the Hill, I would highly doubt that a change as fundamental as this will be accomplished with our current administration and Congress. I would love to get your opinion about the inherent risks and rewards of this proposed solution.

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