Cendant Mobility Defends Fees After Regulators Cry Foul

November 1, 1998

Cendant Mobility defends fees after regulators cry foul

Orlando, Fla.—The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials at a September meeting here blasted the country's largest relocation company, Cendant Mobility, for disregarding an agreement it had made in the spring to stop collecting after-the-fact referral fees from unsuspecting brokers.

Cendant calls the ARELLO charge unfounded. “The information is based on an incomplete understanding of the facts,” says Kevin Kelleher, Cendant Mobility's president and CEO. The company pursues after-the-fact referral fees only when brokers are members of the Cendant Mobility Broker Network and have signed an agreement requiring them to pay a fee on any business the company sends them, says Kelleher.

Could record-low rates spark second-home boom?

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Mortgage rates, now nearing historic lows, are adding additional fuel to what NAR is forecasting to be the nation's third straight year of record-setting new- and existing-home sales. The low rates may usher in an increase in households buying second homes to use as rentals or vacation homes or to improve their tax position, some practitioners say.

The average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to about 6.6 percent in mid-September. That rate is the lowest since Freddie Mac started keeping records in 1971, according to the company.

If rates remain at those levels, lenders could be in for a new wave of refinancing, analysts say. But second-home sales could also get a boost.

“At least in my little part of the world, people are taking advantage of extremely low rates to buy vacation homes,” says James Liptak, a practitioner with Country Real Estate in Paso Robles, Calif. In addition, he says, “investors are coming in and snapping up houses to use as rentals.”

Syndicated real estate columnist Robert Bruss says homeowners should take a close look at buying a second home to use as rental housing or to reap additional tax benefits. “Homeownership is one of the most profitable investments a consumer can make,” he says.

Latest volley in EMF debate: cancer risk is real

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Just when you thought the experts had finally agreed that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from home appliances and power lines don’t increase cancer risk, a new report comes out suggesting they do.

The report is significant for real estate practitioners because it may impact sales near power lines.

A panel of experts studying data culled primarily from population studies concluded that exposure to EMFs may be carcinogenic in humans. The data was included in a report issued jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the U.S. Department of Energy. Of the 29-member panel, 19 believed the evidence suggested that EMFs are a carcinogen.

Real estate practitioners were hoping the issue had been settled last year when the National Cancer Institute released the results of an eight-year study involving more than 1,200 children that concluded EMF exposure played no role in the incidence of a common form of childhood leukemia. The study capped 18 years of inconclusive, back-and-forth research.

The new study shouldn't change the way you handle the issue when it comes up in a transaction. Avoid offering an opinion and encourage buyers to contact local or state environmental health agencies for more information on EMF health effects, say NAR analysts.

NAR diversity program opens door on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C.—NAR’s “At Home With Diversity” program, which aims to open doors for underserved households, is opening up doors for NAR.

Last month, E'Toile Libbett, chair of NAR’s Equal Opportunity-Cultural Diversity Committee, introduced the new diversity certification program at the Congressional Black Caucus’ annual meeting. Libbett, who's with Preferred Carlson, REALTORS®, in Kalamazoo, Mich., is the first representative NAR has had at the meeting.

NAR launched the diversity program with HUD in August.

The Chicago Tribune in a Sept. 8 editorial praised the new program and NAR’s cooperation with HUD.

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