Home flipping gets harder | The Week

Here are three of the week’s top pieces of financial insight, gathered from around the web:

Home flipping gets harder

“More people are flipping homes, but they are making less of a profit,” said Anna Bahney in CNN. There were more than 94,700 single-family homes and condominiums that were “flipped” in the third quarter of last year, meaning that they were bought at a discount, renovated, and then resold. That’s the most flipping activity since 2006, according to real-estate data provider Attom. But the frenetic market wasn’t exactly a flippers’ paradise. Because of the nature of flipping, which can take months to complete, “many investors bought when home prices had shot up” but then struggled to offload at the peak of the market. The average gain on a flipped home was $68,847, or 32.3 percent, but much of that can be eaten up by the costs of substantial renovation.

Health plans add fertility care

More companies are adding fertility benefits to their employer health-care plans to lure workers, said Erica Pandey in Axios. A study by the recruitment firm Mercer last spring found that “11 percent of U.S. employers with more than 500 employees covered egg freezing in 2020, compared with just 5 percent in 2015.” In addition, 27 percent covered the costs of in-vitro fertilization (24 percent in 2015), and 58 percent covered evaluations by reproductive doctors (54 percent in 2015). A “rise in the number of fertility clinics” has helped drive down the costs of some of these services, but employers are also beefing up their benefits packages to attract and retain talent.

Wells Fargo cheated in arbitration

A Georgia judge vacated an arbitration award previously decided in favor of Wells Fargo and questioned the securities industry group that oversaw the process, said Ben Eisen in The Wall Street Journal. An investor had brought the case against the bank “after losing some $1.2 million” in an investment strategy recommended by a Wells Fargo broker. The case went to arbitration, in which the agency that oversees the process, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra), uses “a computer system to randomly generate a neutral list of potential arbitrators.” But in this case, “multiple names were removed from the list at the request of Wells Fargo.” Last week, Judge Belinda Edwards pointed to evidence that Wells Fargo and its attorney had fraudulently “misrepresented the prior testimony” of one of the witnesses.

This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.

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