Fetch! Pet Care franchise opens in Chattanooga and more business news – Chattanooga Times Free Press

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Contributed photo / Kaitlin Wendel, shown with one of the dogs she cares for, has opened a Fetch! Franchise in Chattanooga.

Local franchise opens for Fetch! Pet Care

Fetch! Pet Care, America’s largest franchised provider of professional dog walking and pet sitting services, is expanding into Southeast Tennessee with a new franchise in Chattanooga and Cleveland opened by Kaitlin Wendel.

The pet care brand currently has over 70 franchised locations in 24 states and has identified another 170 geographical territories to expand into around the country.

Wendel said she personally selects and thoroughly trains each dog walker and pet sitter on the team. Staff is bonded, insured, background checked and have specialized skill in caring for dogs, cats, birds and other small caged animals.

«I look forward to providing pet parents and their furry family members the highest quality of care and trust,» she said. «My number one pet care tip is to treat your pets as you would any other family member!»

Fetch! Pet Care allows for a free consultation to establish a relationship between the pet and sitter. The company uses a mobile scheduling and communication app called My Fetch! which allows owners to easily manage their pet’s care and receive updates on their pet’s schedule and services.

Mortgage rates drop to an all-time low

U.S. long-term mortgage rates declined this week to record low levels for the 15th time this year against the backdrop of an economy ravaged by the pandemic.

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate home loan fell to 2.67% from 2.71% last week. A year ago, the benchmark rate stood at 3.73%.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate loans eased to 2.21% from 2.26%.

The housing market continues as a rare bright spot in the stalled U.S. economy, as home-loan rates have trended downward through most of this year. That has bolstered demand from would-be homebuyers or people looking to refinance existing mortgages.

Home Depot pays fine for lead paint

Home Depot Inc. will pay a $20.8 million fine for failing to ensure that its contractors follow lead paint rules. The civil penalty announced Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency is the largest such penalty to date under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Under the proposed settlement, Home Depot must implement a program to ensure that the firms and contractors it hires to perform home renovations are certified to use lead-safe work practices.

The Atlanta company announced in 2017 that it was the subject of a probe by the EPA’s criminal investigation division into its compliance with lead-safe work practices. Home Depot then said it was cooperating with the EPA.

EPA said that while investigating customer complaints about Home Depot renovations, it found the company subcontracted work to firms that did not use lead-safe work practices. It also did not perform required post-renovation cleaning, give EPA pamphlets on lead-based pain to occupants, or maintain records of compliance with the law, the agency said.

Residential lead-based paint was banned in 1978 but still remains in many older dwellings. Exposure to lead dust and paint chips can cause health problems including behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, seizures and even death.

Housing permits rise in November

The number of newly issued permits to build fresh housing rose 6.2% in November on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Housing starts rose 1.2%, and are 12.8% higher than a year ago, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, to an annualized rate of 1.547 million. That’s a bit slower than October figures, when housing starts increased 4.7%.

Building permits, a good barometer of future activity, rose to 1.64 million annualized units. he figure remains up 8.5% from a year earlier, as the housing market remains one the strongest parts of the U.S. economy despite the widespread pandemic and increased lockdowns.

Robinhood Financial settles over SEC charges

Robinhood Financial agreed to pay $65 million to settle government charges that it failed to disclose the full details of its dealings with high-speed traders and didn’t get the best prices for customers trading on its app, the Securities and Exchange Commission said Thursday.

Robinhood and other retail brokerage firms can bring in revenue by routing customers’ orders to high-speed traders and other big investors, which in turn pay for the right to execute many of the trades in hopes of making a profit.

The charges stem from an investigation by the SEC into how Robinhood disclosed its arrangements with high-speed traders. Robinhood neither admitted nor denied the SEC’s findings under the settlement.

«Between 2015 and late 2018, Robinhood made misleading statements and omissions in customer communications, including in FAQ pages on its website, about its largest revenue source when describing how it made money — namely, payments from trading firms in exchange for Robinhood sending its customer orders to those firms for execution, also known as ‘payment for order flow,'» the SEC statement read.

— Compiled by Dave Flessner

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