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Sarah Wheeler joined HousingWire in November 2013 as Content Editor, serving HousingWire and HousingWire.com. She was promoted to Magazine Editor in May 2015. Sarah brings extensive experience in both newspaper journalism and marketing.

Innovation is essential to the housing economy. Lenders, servicers, investors and those in real estate compete in an economic and regulatory environment that rewards agile companies and punishes those mired in inefficiency. 

Thankfully, great minds are at work across the industry to address the tech needs of all sectors of housing. And at HousingWire, we want to recognize that innovation and the difference it makes not only to individual companies, but also to the homeowners and potential homeowners looking to live the American Dream. 

The HW Tech100 program identifies the 100 most innovative companies serving the housing economy, and then highlights leaders in six categories. The winners of last year's contest included:

  • Unique solution: CoreLogic, for CondoSafe
  • Growth: Blend, for its highly scalable and extensible platform 
  • Market Influence: Veros, which provides portals for Fannie, Freddie and the FHA
  • Market Potential: Auction.com, which launched buyer financing with the help of Google Capital
  • Elegant implementation: Redhawk Research, for incredible visualization tools and layered graphics
  • Something else entirely: Comergence Compliance Monitoring, offering a scorecard for third parties to protect lenders

Reading through entries for...

Read more: Don't miss it: HW Tech100 awards close tomorrow

In a move that will create the largest publicly traded single-family rental home company, American Homes 4 Rent (AMH) announced Thursday that it will merge with American Residential Properties (ARPI).

According to investor materials released in coordination with the merger announcement, American Homes 4 Rent owned 38,377 single-family rental homes as of Sept. 30, while American Residential Properties owned 8,938.

The merger will increase American Homes 4 Rent’s total single-family rental portfolio to 47,315 homes.

According to the announcement, the combined company is expected to own in 22 states and to have an equity market capitalization of $5.5 billion, based on American Homes 4 Rent’s closing price on Dec. 2, 2015.

According to the announcement, the boards of both companies approved a definitive agreement to combine the two companies in a tax-free merger at a total transaction value of approximately $1.5 billion.

This deal merges two of the fastest-growing companies in the housing economy. American Homes 4 Rent ranked No.1 in revenue growth in HW's 2014 Fast50 program, growing its revenue an astounding 2,962% from 2012 to 2013. The company then followed that up with 299% revenue growth from 2013 to 2014, landing it in the No. 2 spot for the 2015 Fast50. American Residential Properties moved from the No. 5 spot on the 2014 list to the No. 3 spot this year with 128% growth.

In the merger, American Homes 4 Rent will issue approximately 38 million common shares and...

Read more: American Homes 4 Rent announces merger with American Residential Properties

Celebrity power couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reduced the asking price of their New Orleans home, slashing the price by $850,000, bringing it to $5.65 million. Per Zillow:

Originally, the French Quarter mansion was listed in May of this year for $6.5 million.

But this isn’t last the city will see of the couple. According to the article, the two aren’t walking away from New Orleans and will look for “something off the beaten path down the road.”

The article said the home has five bedrooms and five baths, along with other ornate details, including Venetian plastered walls, marble mantles and fireplaces, crown moldings and a grand spiral staircase. 

Read more: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie slash price of their NOLA mansion

While Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen did not refer to the possibility of a rate hike during the upcoming Fed meeting, she said the current outlook and the flow of data since the central bank's last meeting in October are "consistent" with the rate hike criteria spelled out by U.S. policymakers, an article in Reuters said.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen opened a Congressional committee hearing on the U.S. economy on Thursday with an upbeat assessment of where the country stands as the Fed marches towards its first interest rate hike in a decade.

"I currently judge that U.S. economic growth is likely to be sufficient over the next year or two to result in further improvement in the labor market," Yellen told lawmakers. "Ongoing gains in the labor market, coupled with my judgment that longer-term inflation expectations remain reasonably well anchored, serve to bolster my confidence in a return of inflation to 2 percent."

Back in November, in a speech before the House Financial Services Committee, Yellen formalized the possibility of a rate hike in December, telling the Committee that December’s meeting is a “live possibility” for a rate increase.

From the Wall Street Journal recap of Yellen’s testimony:

The Fed expects “the economy will continue to grow at a pace that’s sufficient to generate further improvements in the labor market and to return inflation to our 2% target over the medium term, and if the incoming information supports that expectation, then our...

Read more: Yellen: Economy still on track for December interest rate hike

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