Wednesday,
September 22, 2021

Market recap

Dow Jones

33,919.84

-50.63 (-0.15%)

S&P 500

4,354.19

-3.54 (-0.08%)

Nasdaq

14,746.40

+32.49 (+0.22%)

Opendoor Technologies

$19.33

+$0.88 (+4.77%)

Redfin

$51.53

+$0.80 (+1.58%)

Apple

$143.43

+$0.49 (+0.34%)

Amid evolving news surrounding COVID-19 and the economic reopening, your financial needs are our top priority. For more information,click here.

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Top Story

Apple’s iPhone May Soon Be Able to Detect Depression and Cognitive Decline

Apple Grows its Healthcare Offerings

Apple (AAPL) is aiming to add to its growing portfolio of healthcare devices and digital tools, developing technology to diagnose mental health issues including depression and cognitive decline. The iPhone maker is using sensors to track physical activity, sleep patterns, mobility, and other activities to create algorithms which can detect signs of depression or cognitive decline.

Apple has entered a number of partnerships as it works to grow its healthcare offerings. Apple is studying stress, depression, and anxiety with help from UCLA and cognitive decline with drug company Biogen (BIIB).

Digital Mental Health Is a Growing Market

Digital mental health presents a big opportunity for Apple and its partners. The pandemic caused many people to experience anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges. This has led to more demand for mental health services, including digital help. Meanwhile, cognitive impairment impacts about five million Americans and there is growing demand for digital solutions to this also.

Apple’s previous healthcare efforts have been focused around its Apple Watch, but for mental health and cognitive impairment, the iPhone will be center stage. Apple hopes to be able to detect these mental conditions, which impact millions of people, through iPhones.

This initiative has already raised concerns about privacy. Apple will likely only keep data on phones, not on Apple servers.

Biogen Hopes for iPhone Feature

Biogen and Apple have launched a two-year study to track cognitive function and spot mild cognitive impairment. The study, which started in January 2021, follows roughly 20,000 people—50% of which are at risk for cognitive decline. Biogen is hoping that the collaboration will result in an iPhone feature which can detect impairment early on and encourage people to seek treatment sooner. Biogen’s Aduhelm drug, which costs around $56,000 per year, treats people with early-stage Alzheimer’s.

The mental health market was huge prior to the pandemic and now it is even bigger. Tens of millions of people suffer from depression, anxiety, and cognitive impairment. It will be interesting to see what comes of the iPhone maker’s research and partnerships with UCLA and Biogen.

Determining the Right Offer Price on a Home

A home’s listing price is often determined by comparing it to similar homes in the area that are for sale, then adjusting up or down based on additional amenities or detrimental issues. But as the saying goes, “A home is generally worth what someone is willing to pay for it.”

There are lots of things to consider when trying to find the right offer price.

• A common way to break down a listing amount is by price per square foot, but that often includes only the heated, livable spaces. A home can (and should) be priced higher than average for the area if it includes extra rooms like a garage or attic, outbuildings, or extra land. Workmanship or permitting can play a role.

• Check the home’s history on the multiple listing service. It records every transaction related to the house, including previous buy and sell dates, price fluctuations, and how long the home has been on the market. It can give you a good idea of where the sellers are coming from.

• Take a look at other properties in the area that have recently sold. Is the price per square foot more or less than the home you have your eye on? One key to an accurate read on the local market is to ensure that you’re comparing apples to apples when it comes to the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, garage space, and other amenities.

If you’re just starting to shop for a mortgage, getting a feel for your rate and loan amount might be inspiring. SoFi offers fixed-rate home loans with competitive rates and as little as 5% down. Find your rate in minutes.


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Transfix Inks a SPAC Deal at a $1.1 Billion Valuation

G Squared Ascend I to Merge With Transfix

Transfix, a digital logistics startup, is going public via a SPAC deal. The transaction with blank-check company G Squared Ascend I (GSQD) values Transfix at $1.1 billion.

Once the deal is complete, Transfix will have $375 million in cash which it can use to take on rival Uber’s (UBER) Uber Freight service. Proceeds will go to expand and develop software and other transportation services. The deal also gives Transfix more firepower to pursue mergers and acquisitions if it decides to go that route, although the company has said it is committed to growing organically. Transfix investors will own 69% of the new company.

Digital Freight Brokerage Market Heating Up

Transfix is the latest deal in the freight brokerage market, which is going through big changes as new companies enter the space. Digital freight startups which have already experienced rapid growth now face pressure to become profitable. For this reason, freight startup Echo Global Logistics (ECHO) is going private in a $1.3 billion deal. The transaction is expected to give Echo the cash and flexibility it needs to build out its technology and platform.

Other companies in the space, including Uber Freight, are also expanding. In July, Uber Freight paid $2.25 billion for Transplace, a logistics services company. Transfix’s other competitors include Convoy, which is backed by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

Profitability Eludes Transfix

Transfix was an early player in the digital freight market, bringing in revenue of $184 million last year. It projects that its revenue will hit $281 million this year. Still, profitability has eluded the company so far. It lost $27 million last year. Transfix expects losses to be $35 million in 2021, but it is targeting profitability in 2024. In comparison, Uber Freight had revenue of $348 million and an adjusted loss of $41 million in the second quarter.

Bringing more digital tools into logistics can streamline transportation and cut out middlemen. That bodes well for startups like Transfix which are disrupting the logistics market with their digital platforms. With competition heating up and investor interest still strong, it will be interesting to see what comes next in this burgeoning market.

Real Estate Companies Test Cash-Offer Programs

Opendoor Technologies, Redfin, Startups Front Homebuyers the Cash

Opendoor Technologies (OPEN), Redfin (RDFN), and startups including Knock, Ribbon, and HomeLight, are purchasing residential homes in all-cash transactions on behalf of buyers who are waiting for their mortgages to clear. These companies are doing this to help homebuyers who are at a disadvantage when competing against cash offers in the current red-hot real estate market. Sellers typically prefer all-cash offers because there is less risk that the deal could fall through or face delays because of financing problems.

Real estate companies offering to help buyers will either lend the buyers the cash or buy the house for them. These programs are geared toward homebuyers who need to purchase a home before they can sell their existing one.

Cash-Offer Services Growing

Opendoor Technologies, the home-flipping company which went public at the end of last year, unveiled its cash offer program in March while Redfin is currently testing its program in select markets. Startups flush with new rounds of cash are also moving full steam ahead in leveling the playing field for home buyers who need a mortgage.

These real estate companies make money by charging a fee or a commission. Some of the startups also serve as the buyer’s mortgage lender, increasing the money they make on the transaction. For the companies that charge a flat fee it is typically 1% to 3% of the home purchase price.

Risks Abound for Real Estate Companies

These cash-offer programs are not risk-free for the real estate companies. There is always the chance that the buyer could back out of the deal if the financing falls through, which would leave the company with a home to resell. Demand for these types of programs could also slow in a more normal real estate market.

For now, real estate companies do not seem to be losing sleep over those risks. They argue that demand for cash-offer services will remain high even as the real estate market cools off. Whether or not the real estate companies are right remains to be seen.

Not-So-Breaking News

  • DraftKings (DKNG) wants to buy Entain, an online sports betting company, for $20 billion. The offer is composed mostly of DraftKings stock, but does include some cash. Earlier this year, UK-based Entain declined a $11 billion takeover offer from MGM (MGM).

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill (CMG) has added smoked brisket to its menu for a limited time. It will be available to all app and web users in the US and Canada beginning next week. This is the third new menu item Chipotle has added this year.

  • Google (GOOGL) is paying $2.1 billion for a New York City office building. This is the highest price tag for commercial real estate seen since before the pandemic. The purchase is happening even as most of Google’s workforce is still working remotely.

  • Amazon (AMZN) is rehiring employees and bringing back job applicants who were fired or turned down because they failed marijunna screenings. This is Amazon’s latest move as it competes for workers.

  • McDonald’s (MCD) is making its Happy Meal toys greener, aiming for the toys to be made with sustainable materials by 2025. The fast-food chain owner will use renewable, recycled, and certified materials. The goal is to reduce virgin plastic by 90%.

  • Negotiating house prices is part science, part art. Follow these 7 tips to do it well (which translates to getting the best price for the least hassle).

Financial Planner Tip of the Day

"First-time home buyers can be bamboozled by the true cost of buying a home because there’s a lot more to consider than just principal and interest. Before buying a home, you should crunch and become familiar with the numbers for the total cost of your mortgage, including insurance, taxes, fees, bills, furniture, and so on. Only with a good grasp of what each line item will run can you make an estimate about the size of the mortgage, and therefore the home you can afford to buy.”

Brian Walsh, CFP® at SoFi

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