Buying is more affordable than renting in 24 top US metros

Buy or rent? It depends on where your potential home buyers live. According to Datatree, a report by CJ Patrick Company analyzes the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas to determine whether prospective first-time home-buyers are better off financially buying a home or renting, and that report states thatup to 26 of the top 50 U.S. metropolitan area markets offer better renting opportunities, in terms of affordability for prospective first-time homebuyers.

So where is cheaper to buy a house these days? The findings of this report track closely with a recent analysis by First American. First American’s deputy chief economist (and speaker at #NEXTWINTER20), Odeta Kushi identified Oklahoma City and Memphis as two cities where renters have strong home buying power, which allows first-time buyers to consider a much larger selection of homes to buy.

Here’s some good news for prospective homebuyers. In most of the markets where the rent-to-buy ratio suggests purchasing a home is more affordable, there are often larger numbers of properties for sale. (CJ Patrick uses a rent-to-buy ratio of greater than 1.0, which means that monthly rent would cost more than mortgage payments; a ratio below 1.0 means the opposite.)

On the other side of the spectrum, the top 10 renters markets are primarily located in, you guessed it, California. Los Angeles had a homeownership rate of 48.2%. That’s over 16 points lower than the national average, and the lowest homeownership rate of the 50 largest metro areas.

California cities dominated the top 10 metro areas where renting was more economical, claiming the top four spots in the list, and five of the top 10. Seven of these cities were on the Pacific Coast. San Jose, which had the highest median rent payment at $2,304 a month, also had the highest monthly payment for a home purchased in the lowest 25% range at $4,876, making it slightly more than twice as expensive to buy.

Overall, the report concludes that several factors are expected to fuel positive consumer sentiments in 2020: pent up demand while supply still is limited, quite high builder confidence due to lower rates, and high affordability. CJ Patrick used data from First American DataTree LLC, U.S. Census, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, IPUMS ACS about the country’s 50 largest metropolitan areas. Data include the total monthly renting versus buying costs, taxes, insurance, median rent prices versus the lower 25% range of the median home sales prices, which are “more representative of the types of properties typically purchased by first-time buyers,” the report notes.

Closing Corp hires a new CTO

Some things are better the second time around. That just might be the case for Dan Mugge, who has rejoined San Diego-based ClosingCorp as the company’s chief technology officer. In 2015, Mugge, an industry veteran and tech expert, was the senior vice president, chief product officer of the residential real estate, mortgage and closing cost intelligence technology provider.

Reporting to Bob Jennings, chief executive officer of ClosingCorp, Mugge will lead the company’s technology strategy and development teams through the company’s mortgage origination process digital transformation.

Prior to rejoining ClosingCorp, Mugge was the senior vice president of Lending Solutions Product Management for Black Knight, where he oversaw the strategic planning, development and promotion of Black Knight’s API marketplace platform. Prior to his first role at ClosingCorp, Mugge was chief information officer for First American’s joint ventures division and vice president of default technology solutions for CoreLogic.

First American Acquires Docutech for $350MM

Done deal. First American Financial Corporation, a global provider of title insurance, settlement and risk solutions for real estate transactions has officially acquired Docutech in a $350 million deal.

In case you haven’t gotten the backstory, here it is. In 2017, Docutech entered into a partnership with Serent Capital, a private equity firm focused on investing in high-growth technology businesses (since 1991, Docutech has provided innovative digital mortgage technology used by lenders nationwide becoming a leader in the space.) Docutech is Serent’s sixth investment in the mortgage technology sector. Serent’s previous investments in the sector include Optimal Blue and Mercury Network.

Following the partnership Docutech strengthened its products and customer delivery, expanded the executive team and accelerated its go-to-market sales operation driving continued profitability, former NEXT speaker Amy Brandt, CEO and President of Docutech stated in a press release.

Raymond James and Kirkland & Ellis served as advisors to Docutech.

Tips for working (or just not driving yourself nuts) during a pandemic

Panicked pandemic pandemonium: It’s an option, not a sentence. Maybe your workplace has been disrupted, but there could be some positive changes that result. Just ask serial entrepreneur and founder of Epi Nekaj. He sees the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity for breakthroughs in technology and innovation. 

“Did you know in 1665, Cambridge University closed because of the plague?” he wrote in a recent e-mail. “Isaac Newton decided not to go work. Instead, he worked from home and discovered calculus and the laws of motion!”

We know, that’s a pretty high bar. No one’s expecting you to come up with any scientific theories. But we can all achieve something, even if it’s just a better way to work during a crisis. TechCrunch took a look at tech companies’ efforts to protect employees from the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are a few of their ideas on how to work during a pandemic.

  • Take reasonable precautions and be transparent: The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls good self hygiene, frequent hand-washing key to preventing infection. Disinfect desks and other surfaces. Masks are useful only if you are sick already, coughing and sneezing.  
  • Don’t question precautions taken by others: To protect workers businesses are canceling major events or face-to-face meetings. Meet by video instead of the coffee shop. Withhold judgment if people do not want to shake hands. It’s okay if someone leaves work early because they freak out.
  • Take the loss: Work disruption is bound to cost money, time, and opportunity. Just try to make the best of it.
  • Evolve and interrogate your process:If disruptions are seriously affecting productivity or your company’s ability to function, consider the specific reasons why you are unable to do a particular thing. Maybe you rely too much on face-to-face communications, or find it difficult to explain concepts in writing, being aware helps.
  • Lastly, remember we are in this together: Be positive.

We appreciate the tips, TechCrunch! At NEXT, we have a few suggestions of our own:

  • For Pete’s sake, limit your time on social media sites that feed your Corona paranoia. Sort out your bottom drawer. Perfect your adho mukha svanasana (downward dog). Count backwards by sevens from 2 million. Teach your dog sign language. Anything, literally anything, BUT subjecting yourself to amateurs’ reportage on “the newest” COVID-19 risks. Give your poor overworked imagination a rest.  
  • Donate some of that toilet paper you’re hoarding to a homeless shelter. Even one roll. Come on, you can sacrifice one roll. Maybe throw in a couple of bars of soap or that hand sanitizer swag you picked up at a conference while you’re at it. It might make you feel grateful to have a sink, soap and warm water (not to mention a Costco-sized container of hand sanitizer and two cases of T.P.), and gratitude feels good.
  • Remember to laugh. Heartily and often, even if it’s at the expense of your in-laws or coworkers. Just cover your mouth when you do it and make sure they don’t see you. Find the humor in daily life. If you can’t, you should probably start with the mirror. If you still can’t find it, don’t look around too hard or you’re likely to catch your in-laws and coworkers snickering at you.

Wishing everyone a happy Thursday. Hang in there folks, we can get through this together, but apart.

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