Mysteriously shot and killed

Detectives are still investigating the homicide but did say they believe Abbasi was at the house because he was interested in buying it.

“It’s a little unreal,” neighbor Jacob Hunt told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot.

Hunt lives next door to the abandoned house.

Many neighbors had previous concerns about the house, and even complained to code enforcement to get it demolished or properly boarded up.

But this isn’t the first incident of an agent getting shot within the week. A real estate agent from Texas was also shot under mysterious circumstances.

Police found a real estate agent shot to death in an abandoned home in Atlanta, according to an article by Richard Elliot for WSB-TV.

Police found 32-year-old David Abbasi Friday afternoon after responding to a call about shots fired. The agent died in the house of two gunshot wounds.

Connection with murdered real estate agent

A few short days ago, a real estate agent in Abilene, Texas, was shot and killed inside his home. Now, the police have made an arrest in connection with the case.

Monday morning, 54-year-old real estate agent Tom Niblo [pictured below] was shot and killed in his home, an act which police believe wasn’t random.

Now, police arrested the agent’s brother-in-law Luke Sweetser on charges of theft of a firearm, according to an article by Jamie Burch for KXTS. However, police say that the arrest was in connection to Niblo’s murder. He is now being held on a $400,000 bond.

From the article:

According to the arrest warrant obtained by KTXS, police found several stolen firearms in a storage facility on Mesquite Street police say was used by Sweetser. KTXS spotted police back at the facility Wednesday afternoon.

KTXS later witnessed investigators unload 21 long guns, 4 pistols, several magazines and several boxes of ammo they had seized from the storage facility. The weapons are just some of the more than 100 pieces of evidence Police Chief Stan Standridge said his investigators recovered over the past two days.

Now, the Abilene Police Department acquired a search warrant to take a DNA swab from Sweetser, according to an article by Brian Bethel for Abilene Reporter. His DNA will be compared to the DNA found on the a stolen gun that was obtained in connection to the shooting.

Niblo’s wife, who was in the house when her husband was murdered, said she heard shots fired and managed to escape. She now told a friend that she heard as many as 10 shots, the article states.

HousingWire reached out to the APD for more details on Sweetser, however they declined to comment.

Big unknown’ for housing

Housing experts continue to give their forecasts concerning 2017, and what the year ahead will bring to the housing market, however one unknown factor continues to hang just over the horizon, out of site.

Wednesday’s highly anticipated rate hike from the Federal Open Market Committeebrings to light a new question for 2017: What will it mean for first-time homebuyers?

This increase in interest rates remains a concern for economist who say that the incentive to buy a home decreased slightly. While it may not be enough to ward off first-time homebuyer, the rising rates combined with the rising home prices could discourage homeowners from upgrading to a larger or better home, therefore leaving little inventory for first-time buyers to move into.

The level of the impact of the rate hike and rising interest rates is yet to be seen, and remains the big unknown, Steve Rick, CUNA Mutual Group chief economist, said in an interview with HousingWire.

“Higher interest rates will choke off a little bit of demand but more jobs, more income, more wages should stimulate housing demand,” Rick said. “So the big question is, which is going to have a bigger impact?”

There is no real way to know just how much the rate hike will deter first-time home buyers, or if the construction industry will step up and build new homes for these buyers. Perhaps only time will tell.

Overall, however, many economists stress that the increase is not enough to create a significant impact on housing demand, and remain positive about 2017’s housing market.

“The era of ultra-low interest rates is over,” said Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist. “Today’s short-term rate hike will be followed by several additional rounds of increases in 2017 and 2018.”

“Despite these moves, mortgage rates will not rise alarmingly,” Yun said. “By this time next year, expect the 30-year fixed rate to likely be in the 4.5% to 5% range.”

One expert explained that while interest rates are increasing, they are still very low historically.

“While those looking to buy a home are understandably concerned about the path of rates ahead, it’s important to remember that borrowing costs remain exceptionally low by historical standards,” said Erin Lantz, Zillow Group vice president of mortgage “Rising rates may impact the location or size of the home they hope to purchase, but buyers that are fully committed to buying a home are unlikely to be swayed by the FOMC’s decision to raise rates.”

Of course, the rise of interest rates is not necessarily negative for everyone, one expert pointed out.

Higher interest rates of real estate

Count Nationstar Mortgage CEO Jay Bray among those who were surprised by the election of Donald Trump, although Bray tells HousingWire that he is looking forward to working with the incoming Trump administration and is “cautiously optimistic” about the impact that the president-elect could have on the financial services business.

HousingWire sat down with Bray this week at Nationstar’s headquarters to discuss the company’s rebrand into Mr. Cooper (click here to read more about that), the results of the election, and much more.

“I was surprised personally about the outcome of the election,” Bray told HousingWire. “In general, we would work with any administration, frankly. They’re a big part of our lives. And we’ve done it for the last 20 years and will continue to do it.”

As Bray acknowledges, the financial services industry was the subject of a raft of new regulations in the wake of the financial crisis, but the Trump administration is already stating that it plans a regulatory rollback and perhaps even the “dismantling” of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

Bray characterized himself as “cautiously optimistic” about the impact of the Trump administration on financial services, noting the impact of regulations on Nationstar’s ability to innovate and create new products or services.

“If you take the regulatory environment, it’s been significant,” Bray said. “The new rules, the new regulations, take TRID in and of itself. This year, 80% of our resources are focused on making sure TRID gets implemented properly.”

TRID, the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule, is the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The rule pushed the mortgage industry to create new forms that are designed to inform borrowers about all the costs associated with a mortgage before they close on the loan.

The rule, implemented just over a year ago, had a significant impact on the mortgage business, as chronicled here.

In Bray’s eyes, the regulation is helpful for consumers, but it inhibited Nationstar’s development.

“If you go back to the customer experience, post-crisis, there’s been so much new regulation that frankly we’ve had to dedicate most of our resources to it,” Bray said. “So the ability to innovate, the ability to create better customer products, has probably not been as great because we’ve got to get these rules right.”

Trump has pledged a freeze on new regulations once he takes office, and his transition team said recently that the Trump administration will move to dismantle Dodd-Frank.

Bray said that he hopes that any regulatory slowdown, pause, or rollback will allow for an evaluation of which rules work and which ones don’t.

Hottest housing state on Washington

Other than Seattle, which is regularly featured on lists of the hottest housing markets, cities in Washington state rarely make the cut for top lists, until now.

Washington’s housing markets recently dominated a monthly market report from Pro Teck Valuation Services.

Five of the top 10 performing markets in the country in November were located in Washington. The CBSAs included:

  • Tacoma-Lakewood, Washington
  • Spokane-Spokane Valley, Washington
  • Olympia-Turnwater, Washington
  • Bremerton-Silverdale, Washington
  • Mount Vernon-Anacortes, Washington

However, the dominance is not necessarily a positive for residents living in the area.

The chart below shows the history of all five CBSAs, along with a projection for how they will perform moving forward.

A huge reason the markets dominated is their lack of available housing stock, said Tom O’Grady, CEO of Pro Teck Valuation Services.

“All five metros have less than three months of remaining inventory,” said O’Grady. “That means that based on typical number of sales in these markets it will only take three months to sell all of the current inventory. This lack of inventory signifies a sellers’ market where demand exceeds supply, causing prices to rise.”

So while these markets may be hot, O’Grady noted that a stable market typically has around six months of remaining inventory.