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

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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

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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

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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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6 Things to Know When Buying a House and Moving to a New City

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HJF_2015_nov_blog3Even if you think you’ve found the perfect home in a great neighborhood, you owe it to yourself to make sure you perform due diligence to ensure there are no unpleasant surprises down the road. In a new article this week, Realtor.com advises homebuyers to go the extra mile and take six smart steps before making an offer. In addition to doing a nighttime drive-by, the article recommends understanding the neighborhood’s zoning. The area may not have retail shops around the corner now, but if it is zoned for mixed use, you could be subject to high traffic and crowd noise if a strip mall opens behind your home down the road.

To learn more, read the entire article.

Image Source: Joe Mabel

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