Saturday, August 30, 2008

Obeo Wins 2008 Real Estate Pacesetter Award

August 2008

Obeo is chosen for honor from more than 40 competitors by Inman Community members

Obeo, a leading provider of full-service residential real estate online marketing products in North America, is the winner of the 2008 Real Estate Pacesetter Award, as voted by the Inman Real Estate Trends Group.

The award was given as a part of the Inman Real Estate Olympics, a contest in the Inman Community sponsored by Stefan Swanepoel, who is widely known as a leading visionary on the residential real estate industry and its trends.

More than 40 competitors were narrowed down to a slate of just eight real estate trend leaders. Criteria set up by Swanepoel included being an innovative Web 2.0 company or user of Web 2.0 technology; the size, need and demand for the companies/services; the quality or uniqueness of services; and the potential impact of services on the industry.

CondoDomain and Roost received second and third place, respectively. Other finalists were Agent Shield, Goomzee, eShowings, Bug Realty and Beat You There.

About Obeo

Since its inception in 1999 and its evolution from 360 House to Obeo in 2004, the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company has become the largest preferred supplier of full-service residential real estate online marketing products in the United States and Canada. The Latin word for “to go to” or “to encompass,” Obeo provides REALTORS®, homebuilders, land developers and property managers with customized online marketing solutions and offline sales tools. To find out more, go to

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Former HUD Secretary Cisneros Calls for New Stimulus Package With Strong Housing Measures

Former HUD Secretary Cisneros Cites Housing Decline as Unprecedented Drag on US Economy; Calls for New Stimulus Package With Strong Housing Measures

FHLBank San Francisco DNC Forum Releases New Demographic Data on Sub-Prime Borrowers

Last update: 7:46 p.m. EDT Aug. 27, 2008
DENVER, Aug 27, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Henry Cisneros, former secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), declared today that the housing industry is in a "truly dangerous place" and that significant steps must be taken by the next administration to address the mounting problems.

Mr. Cisneros spoke at a housing forum at the Democratic National Convention that was hosted by the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco (FHLBank San Francisco). Mr. Cisneros said the stakes are high because housing "is so embedded in the overall economy," and the situation "continues to get worse."

"Today, we cannot say how it will turn out," Mr. Cisneros told the gathering at the Colorado Convention Center. Joining him on the panel were Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, and Maurice Jourdain-Earl, managing director of Compliance Technologies. The panelists reflected their personal views during the forum, and those views were not necessarily endorsed by the FHLBank San Francisco.

Dwight Alexander, vice president of legislative affairs at FHLBank San Francisco, set the stage for the discussion by noting that the housing industry has been beset with foreclosures related to sub-prime loans, depreciation of property values, tight credit by the banks and problems at the mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are suffering millions of dollars in losses each quarter.
"The housing industry is facing serious problems, and we brought this talented panel together to help us better understand the issues and what the solutions might be," Mr. Alexander said.

With the economy staggering along, Mr. Cisneros said the new administration next year will be forced to pass a second stimulus package. He said it must contain measures to deal with the credit crunch that is curtailing investments and lending. "We won't get the job machine started without credit," he said, adding that measures must also assist people and communities hurt by foreclosures, assist those who will be hurt in the future and increase the supply of affordable rental housing.
Mr. Morial agreed, but said an emphasis must be placed on homeownership. He noted that government programs, such as the GI Bill, were the foundation for the growth of the middle-class in the 70s, 80s and 90s. "Homeownership must be a goal," he said. "The goal for the nation must be to close the homeownership gap between whites and people of color."
Mr. Morial also said that any measures aimed at improving the credit situation for banks must also include a national law against predatory lending.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jourdain-Earl gave the audience a clearer picture of sub- prime borrowers. His company is a leading provider of technology that analyzes lending patterns across the country. His data determined that while the majority of sub-prime loans went to non-Hispanic whites, there was a much higher concentration of sub-prime loans to people of color.
"Whites had more sub-prime loans than all minorities combined," he said, but added that more than 50 percent of the loans to African Americans were sub-prime loans.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco

The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco delivers low-cost funding and other services that help member financial institutions make home mortgages to people of all income levels and provide credit that supports neighborhoods and communities. The Bank also funds community investment programs that help members create affordable housing and promote community economic development. The Bank's members -- its shareholders and customers -- are commercial banks, credit unions, savings institutions, thrift and loans, and insurance companies headquartered in Arizona, California, and Nevada.

SOURCE Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

San Francisco Bay Area Welcomes Casa Latino Real Estate

The Greater San Francisco Bay Area welcomes its first Casa Latino Real Estate franchise this week.

The national leader in the Hispanic real estate market has announced the opening of Casa Latino Bay Area Realty at 555 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City, CA.

Casa Latino CEO Robb Heering stated that "our entry into the Bay Area is critical to our continuing expansion as the leader in multicultural real estate. The Bay Area is a very diverse, deserving and desirable market.

Real estate broker, Carmen Chong will manage the Redwood City office. With almost two decades of mortgage experience, Carmen is also the President of CC Legacy Financial Corporation, a Redwood City based mortgage brokerage. Her mission is to fulfill the real estate needs of all communities, especially of the rapidly growing Hispanic population in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Heering further stated “Carmen is exactly the type of dedicated and ethical real estate professional that we need to carry our flag in the Bay Area. Carmen is a hard working, intelligent and committed professional. She was born and raised in Nicaragua from Chinese descendants. She’s a graduate of San Francisco State University and has extensive local ties. While we expect the Redwood City office to grow its roster of agents quickly, the management team currently includes Ana Alvarez, a real estate finance pro and Viviana Bolivar, a veteran of the legal, title and escrow industry. The leadership team at Casa Latino Bay Area is tremendously well qualified, and we anticipate they will quickly obtain considerable market share.”

Earlier this year, Casa Latino awarded an area development contract to TAW, LLC, whose principals will award individual franchises as well as own and operate several Casa Latino Real Estate franchises throughout the region. Additional offices will soon be opened in Hayward, Pittsburg, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, Daly City, and other communities.

A grand opening celebration will take place August 28th at 4pm at Casa Latino Bay Area Realty, 555 Twin Dolphin Drive in Redwood City.

About Casa Latino Franchise Corporation

Casa Latino was created in 2005 based upon the premise that Hispanic home buyers and sellers have unique needs based upon cultural differences and lifestyles, bolstered by the fact that those needs are not being effectively served by any other national brand. While the company serves everyone, regardless of heritage, the company’s model is designed to provide superior service to a multicultural market. The company offers franchisees unprecedented culturally specific and significant back office support, training, marketing tools, advertising, coaching, and much more to ensure their success. The franchise model encourages a variety of agent compensation programs which dramatically enhance a broker’s ability to recruit agents. The low franchise fee and an exceptionally low transaction based royalty structure make Casa Latino an extremely attractive opportunity. Casa Latino has awarded franchises in 14 states and is executing an aggressive growth plan in the USA and several other countries.


Media Contact

Bill Arce

Casa Latino


Friday, August 15, 2008

Synovate study finds U.S. Hispanics and African-Americans still have much lower ownership of several financial services and products

August 13, 2008
Press Release

Despite growing use of financial se

rvices and products and more targeted communications, U.S. Hispanics and African-Americans continue to be ‘unbanked’ and ‘underbanked’ according to Synovate’s 2008 U.S. Diversity Markets Report.

To better understand financial behavior among multicultural consumers in the U.S., Synovate recently surveyed a total of 4,000 males and females ages 18+, including 1,000 General Market respondents, 1,000 African-Americans and 2,000 Hispanics.

Bank Accounts and Investments

While the percentage of U.S. Hispanics with any type of bank account is up 7%, from 70% in 2004 to 77% in 2008, this is quite low when compared to General Market and African-American consumers, both of which are at least 90%. Even though African-Americans have increased ownership of checking or savings accounts by 8% since 2004, from 82% to 90%, they and Hispanics still have much lower ownership of several types of investment accounts, including:

* IRA or 401k plans: 54% ownership for African-Americans and 32% for Hispanics versus 72% for General Market consumers

* Stocks or bonds, individually or as part of a mutual fund: 33% ownership for African-Americans and 18% for Hispanics versus 60% for General Market consumers

* Certificates of Deposit (CDs): 25% ownership for African-Americans and 24% for Hispanics versus 36% for General Market consumers

"A substantial number of multicultural consumers don’t have jobs with retirement plans," said Denise Marks, Vice President of Diversity research at Synovate. "This is particularly true for Hispanics, almost half of whom are employed in the blue collar industry and don’t have the opportunity to participate in these types of investment accounts."

Credit Cards and Mortgages

The financial services gap between multicultural consumers and the General Market is also evident in credit card ownership, with 69% of African-Americans and 51% of Hispanics owning cards compared to 87% of General Market consumers. While more than half (54%) of General Market consumers hold a mortgage, the percentage of African-Americans and Hispanics who do is only 47% and 26%, respectively. Also, only about one-quarter of African-Americans and Hispanics have a home equity line of credit (23% each) compared to 35% of the General Market.
Health Insurance and Financial Attitudes

Health insurance is another area in which Hispanics lag compared to General Market and African-American consumers. Just 62% of Hispanics say they have health insurance versus more than 80% of African-American and General Market respondents. As with investment accounts, this lower incidence of coverage is related to having jobs in which employers do not offer health coverage for employees.

Socioeconomic circumstances are certainly a factor in the lower ownership of financial products and related services among multicultural consumers. However, the relationship that Hispanics and African-Americans have with financial institutions is also impacted by cultural differences. While about the same amount of Hispanics and General Market consumers feel that they are treated well by financial institutions (36% and 41%, respectively), only 31% of African-Americans feel this way. When considering Hispanics by acculturation level, almost 40% of more acculturated Hispanics - those with higher incomes that speak English or are bilingual - agree that they are treated well compared to those who are less acculturated (29%), who tend to be foreign-born and rely on Spanish-speaking services.

When asked about their financial outlook, it is not always positive for these consumers. Only 18% of Hispanics and 12% of African-Americans agree that their financial situation has gotten better in the past few years.

"The good news is that multicultural consumers are building trust towards financial institutions and owning more financial products, but there are still gaps that need be addressed," said Elliot Savitzky, Vice President in Synovate’s Financial Services group. "This is especially true in the subprime mortgage market, which has hit multicultural consumers particularly hard."


A bright spot for the financial sector is remittance. Sending money to relatives who live outside of the U.S. continues to be an important activity in the lives of U.S. Hispanics, although there are signs that this too has been slowing due to rising unemployment. More than half (54%) of U.S. Hispanics say they send money to family or friends outside of the U.S. Almost three in ten (28%) send money once a month or more and, on average, the amount sent is $230. In addition to traditional remittance companies such as Western Union and Orlandi Valuta, banks such as Bank of America and discount retailers including Wal-Mart have launched their own remittance programs over the past several years to attract this audience. Due to current immigration legislation and higher border security, Hispanics that are undocumented or temporary are tending to remain in the U.S. instead of going home to visit their families in Latin America.

"There are many cases of seasonal workers from Mexico and other Latin American countries not seeing their families in their home countries for several years as it has become more difficult to cross the border," said Marks. "Since it is less risky to send money via remittance, this area is still an opportunity for marketers in spite of the current economy."

For more information on Synovate's 2008 U.S. Diversity Markets Report, with data on buying power, language use profiles, and media, product, and service usage information for Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans visit
To learn more about Synovate diversity research, visit
For more information on Synovate’s financial services research expertise visit

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