Scams Targeting Homeowners: Be Sure You Don’t Fall Victim


It seems that almost daily we read or hear reports and warnings of scams aimed at consumers which can result in significant financial losses.  It is imperative that consumers remain vigilant in protecting their assets and investments; especially in the age of hacking, privacy breaches, robo-calling and phishing scams.  It can be overwhelming to keep up with the warnings; however, a recent article published by U.S. News and World Report by Devon Thorsby offers some sound and easy to follow advice.

For homeowners and prospective homeowners, down payments sent via wire transfers have ended up in the hands of high tech thieves instead of their mortgage companies.  Emails sent from mortgage brokers to their clients with wire transfer instructions can get intercepted by hackers.  The hackers are then able to change the wire instructions in the e mail prior to the customer receiving the message.  In the end, the customer receives an e mail with modified wire instructions and then ends up wiring the funds meant for a home closing directly to the hackers account.

To avoid this type of scam, one broker indicated “she instructs all of her clients to have the title company and bank communicate directly…and verify where the money is going, what the value number is and what the account number is… in any other situation where you have to authorize your bank or title company to do anything, rather than scanning and emailing any personal information or signed authorization, [she] instructs clients to send it via fax to eliminate the possibility of theft from an email hack.”

Thorsby provides additional advice to avoid telephone phishing scams that can result in financial hardships.

Read the entire article.

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Looking for a Bargain on a Home? How to Spot a Motivated Seller


House hunters looking to purchase their first or next home are, undoubtedly, looking for a good deal on the home and a sales transaction void of big surprises or delays.  It can be exhausting to get into back and forth negotiations over price.  Not to mention potential discoveries in an inspection that need to be agreed upon before the sale moves forward.  It can appear, at times, that the home owner is not in any hurry to sell their home and is not willing to budge on their conditions.

In an article by Stephanie Booth, published by realtor.com, she provides seven signs that a homeowner is anxious to sell their home quickly and willing to work out a good deal with a prospective buyer.  For example, a home that is listed for sale by an estate might be a sign that the home can be purchased for a bargain price and be a candidate for a quick sale; the people who inherited the home might be out of town residents and/or looking to quickly liquidate the assets of the home.

Similarly, homes that appear to need some minor work such as landscaping and basic maintenance and are overall, just not spruced up to attract buyers, may indicate distress for the homeowner.  They may not have the means or resources to make minor repairs or updates to the home and are just looking to move on.  A home buyer might find an offer to be quickly accepted and be able to negotiate a quick close with a homeowner motivated to unload the burden of owning a home they can no longer afford to maintain.

Read the entire article for other signs that a home owner is desperate to sell their home.

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Helpful Tips for Buying a Condo in Chicago


A number of first time home buyers are ready to enter the real estate market.  Young professionals who are looking to purchase their first home might find it appealing to own a property in one of the many Chicago neighborhoods; however, the prices for a single family home are too steep.  Purchasing a condo is an attractive alternative; in fact, owning a condo can be very appealing to many home buyers who want to move into one of these hot areas but also don’t want to take on the maintenance single family home.

FotoFlexer_PhotoNevertheless, purchasing a condo in Chicago can offer its own set of issues if not researched thoroughly by the buyer.  An article published by Alex Mayster in U.S. News Real Estate offers many considerations buyers should remember when purchasing a condo in the city.

For example,  Mayster encourages the buyer to find out how many units in the building are rented out currently.  “If it’s over 50 percent rented, you could have trouble getting a loan,” says Jennifer Mills Klatt with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices KoenigRubloff Realty Group.  Even if the buyer is able to secure a loan, home owners in a building with more than 50 percent of the properties rented out may find that their neighbors don’t share the same level of financial investment in the property.  This could also lead to frustration when owners renting their property vote to spend to less money on improvements and maintenance.  A high percentage of rental units may also affect the resale value of the property.

The article goes on to provide other helpful tips for condo buyers such as researching and exploring the neighborhood first-hand,  personally investigating the availability of parking, whether it be street parking or an included parking spot, and researching the condo association minutes and assessments.

Read the entire article.



Photo Credit:  Gregory Richard

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Helpful Tips on Seller Disclosure Dos and Don’ts


8233501246_fe51a4006a_oIf you have decided to sell your home, it may be tempting to make your listing appealing to potential buyers by leaving off some of your home’s “issues”. Perhaps they are issues you have learned to live with or do not feel are worthy of disclosure. In some cases, it might be a big enough issue that you feel it will scare buyers off. As tempting as it might be to not disclose a known issue, failure to do so could expose you to trouble down the road.

An article written by Warren Christopher Freiberg and published by Realtor.com provides some helpful tips regarding seller disclosures:

  1. If you are unsure whether or not to disclose an issue with your home, its best to error on the side of safety and disclose it.
  2. Even when its not required, it is a good idea to disclose previous inspection reports, no matter how old they are. It protects the seller from having the home purchaser claim they weren’t informed of a problem.
  3. If you truly were not aware of an issue with the home and it was not uncovered during the home inspection, you cannot be held responsible. As the article states, “You can’t be held responsible for not disclosing a defect if it’s discovered by the buyer a few months after closing. In fact, at a certain point the burden falls on buyers to do their due diligence to uncover any problems.”
  4. Do not provide information to the buyer if you are not sure of the answer.  For example the exact square footage of the home. Inform the buyer that you are unaware of the answer and put the responsibility on the buyer to find the answer.

“It is much better to lose a buyer by clearly disclosing all known issues than it is to spend two years and tens of thousands of dollars in litigation,” is the advice certified real estate specialist, Adam Buck, provides.

Read the entire article.


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Time to Close, How Long Should You Expect to Wait?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEarly on in 2016, the average time to close on a home mortgage loan had risen to an average of 50 days.  The delay was a direct result of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s  TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule which changed the type and complexity of loan information industry professionals had to pass on to borrowers.  Within the next few months, however, the time to close worked its way back down to a 12 month low of only 44 days.

Yet, the this figure has begun creeping back up again.  Ultimately, July 2016 Ellie Mae findings reported an average wait of 46 days.   According to an article published in HousingWire.com by Ben Lane, “…is this year’s increase in days to close just the industry fully settling into the post-TRID world and finally finding some semblance of normalcy, or is it more concerning than that? Only time will tell.”

The article goes on to provide additional figures from the Ellie Mae report.   For example, July 2016 closing rate for all loan rose to 71.6% and the 30-year mortgage rate reached its lowest since March 2015. For more details, read the entire article.

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The Best Cities for Real Estate Investments


With the median home price on existing homes predicted to rise 6 percent over the next year, investors are turning to real estate as a steady and tangible investment option.  HomeUnion evaluated the real estate market for both investors planning to sell or “flip” the properties as well as those looking to rent out the purchased properties.

To determine which cities made the list for investors looking to flip, HomeUnion looked for cities where prices have yet to return to levels reached before the recession, compared prices from early 2015 to early 2016 and took into account the local economics of the area.

According to an article published by Realtor.com by Peter Ortiz, the top ten cities for home price appreciation are:9682523008_55447863c2_o

  1. Jacksonville, FL
  2. Tampa, FL
  3. Orlando, FL
  4. Chicago, IL
  5. Detroit, MI
  6. Las Vegas, NV
  7. Cincinnati, OH
  8. Phoenix, AZ
  9. Cleveland, OH
  10. Minneapolis, MN

With more and more households holding off on the idea of owning their own home, deciding instead to rent, investors are looking to rental properties.  Prospective landlords may want to consider one of the cities HomeUnion found to have the highest returns for rental properties. The cities were evaluated based on the annual rent growth and local economies and those that ranked in the top ten are:

  1. Cleveland, OH
  2. Columbia, SC
  3. Birmingham, AL
  4. Pittsburgh, PA
  5. Milwaukee, WI
  6. Cincinnati, OH
  7. Memphis, TN
  8. Greenville, SC
  9. Tampa, FL
  10. Philadelphia, PA

Both studies evaluated only single family homes that fall within the range of $232,500 and lower.

Read the entire article.


Photo Credit:  Kerry Quinn

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Home Purchase and Closing Rates are Showing Improvement


For the first time in the past nine months, mortgages for home purchases have accounted for more than 60 percent of all closed loans.  According to a report released by Ellie Mae, the rate of actually reached 62 percent in May.

Additionally, the rate of loans that closed improved to 70 percent.  Specifically, the rate of home purchase loans that closed was 75 percent, with the rate of refinancing closes lagging slightly at 67 percent.

The report also notes that home buyers who are financing their home purchase have seen an average of 45 days Keys and lock the door on the background of solar gardento close their loan, which is an increase of one day from last month.

The article published by REALTORMag on June 16, 2016 provides data from the Ellie Mae Report, and also discusses the percentage of home borrowers with “high” credit scores, which exceeded 80 percent for conventional loans.

Read the entire article for these details.

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