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MiMutual Mortgage, the national retail channel for Michigan Mutual Inc., has announced the opening of a branch in Eden Prairie, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis. MiMutual is growing its national footprint, having opened several branches this year with plans to open three additional branches in the western U.S. in the fourth quarter. Industry veteran Femi Oriogun will serve as branch manager for the new location.
“Femi has an excellent track record and is the kind of mortgage professional who will use his extensive experience to benefit both consumers and mortgage professionals,” said Daniel Jacobs, executive vice president of MiMutual Mortgage. “As MiMutual continues to expand its geographic reach, we look for talented leaders who understand our culture of service and our commitment to the community and believe that Femi is an excellent addition to the MiMutual team.”
Oriogun brings more than 20 years of mortgage industry experience to the position, which will help him in establishing MiMutual Mortgage as the go-to source for quality customer service. Oriogun was previously vice president at Finance of America in its Consumer Direct Division. He previously owned and operated his own mortgage company for a number of years.
“There is a significant opportunity to bring MiMutual’s core values and high level of service to a market that is currently lackluster in this regard,” Oriogun said. “Being able to share my knowledge and experience with a company that places the upmost importance on customer satisfaction, distinctive problem solving and commitment to personal growth will be very rewarding. These are characteristics I believe will be vital to the success and impact of this new branch.”
Minnesota’s Twin Cities metro area is facing a simultaneous wave of good and bad news, according to new housing data.
First, the good news: The two major real estate trade groups serving this market–the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) and the St. Paul Area Association of Realtors–reported that 2015 ended with 56,390 closed sales, a 13.7 percent increase from 2014 and the best sales level in 10 years. The market’s median sales price last year was $220,000, up seven percent from the previous year, while distressed sales made up 10.6 percent of all closed sales, a staggering 26.7 percent year-over-year drop.
“Last year really showcased the durability of our economic and housing recovery, despite a few obstacles. Attractive rates, rising rents, job growth, wage increases and the lowest unemployment rate of any major metro area will continue to be positive factors for real estate,” said Judy Shields, president of MAAR.
But, now, the bad news: Local housing inventory dropped to a 10-year low last month, according to a study by the Shenehon Center for Real Estate at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business. Last month, the Twin Cities metro area had only 10,301 homes for sale. During 2015, residential properties costing less than $200,000 represented 30 percent of all homes on the market, but 42 percent of the sales.
“The bottom line is that there is way more demand than supply of homes that are priced at less than $400,000,” said Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the university. “The continuing shortage of homes for sale coupled with increased demand for houses in that price range will continue to keep an upward pressure on prices but will likely be a drag on the number of closed sales. This is great if you are a seller but is much more challenging if you are a buyer.”
The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has announced that it is charging the owner and managers of Bramante’s Apartments, a 120-unit complex in New Brighton, Minn., with violating the Fair Housing Act by refusing to allow a resident with disabilities to have a dedicated accessible parking spot. HUD’s charge alleges that Terry Persaud, Mary Huebner and Persaud Bramante Apartments LLC denied the woman’s request for a reasonable accommodation, which resulted in the woman falling several times because of the distance she had to walk to her unit.
The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services when such accommodations may be necessary to afford a person with a disability equal opportunity to use and enjoy his or her dwelling, including granting parking allowances for persons who require assistance.
“Housing providers need to understand that many people with mobility impairments rely on amenities, such as accessible parking spaces, to perform daily functions and that as providers they have an obligation to grant those accommodations,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD remains committed to taking action when the housing rights of individuals with disabilities are violated.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when the woman, who has an ambulatory disability and cannot walk more than 200 feet, filed a complaint alleging that the apartment owners refused to allow her to have a dedicated accessible parking space. The property owners did designate a general handicapped space that did meet her needs but because the landlord would not reserve it for her sole use, the spot was often occupied by other residents. After experiencing several falls because of having to walk significant distances to her unit, the woman moved out for fear of hurting herself further.
HUD’s charge will be heard by a U.S. Administrative Law Judge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the woman for the harm caused her by the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose fines to vindicate the public interest. If the matter is decided in federal court, the judge may also award punitive damages.
In FY 2014, disability was the most common basis of complaints filed with HUD and its partner agencies, being cited as a basis for 4,606 complaints, or 54 percent of the overall total.