Posted On: August 9th, 2020 5:38PM
In order to protect yourself, you need to know about some of the most common ways that buyers and sellers fall victim to fraudulent bad actors. We’ll also look at some common-sense ways that you can prepare for your real estate transaction and protect your personal and financial information in order to stay safe.
Mortgage fraud generally occurs during the escrow process and involves the theft of information and mimicking of entities involved in the transaction. Hackers access the email account of a buyer, seller, or agent, gathering information that they then use to spoof one of the participants in the transaction.
For example, a hacker finds out your closing date and that Premier Title is conducting the title search and closing process for your home purchase. He or she then sets up a website and URL using the same logo and street address under the name Premiere Title—notice the extra “e”.
They then send you an email that looks much like the ones you’ve already received, but under the new name, and redirect you to the spoofed website. There you find wiring information that fraudulently instructs you to send your down payment to them, instead of to Premier Title. By the time the mistake is discovered, your hard-earned down payment is long-gone.
According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), fraudulent schemes related to real estate transactions can include any or all of the following:
In addition, schemes frequently take place around home repairs and improvements, whether when preparing the home for sale or as a response to the home inspection. In some cases, scammers pose as contractors and demand payment for repairs that have already been completed, threatening to put a lien on the home or call a halt to the closing. It is important to keep careful records of any work that is done on the home and to communicate with your real estate agent if there are any questions or concerns about a contact you have received.
There are a variety of ways to protect yourself and your information from perpetrators of these types of fraudulent schemes. Preparation—before, during, and after your real estate transaction—is the best way to ensure a positive outcome.
Check, then double-check, information.
When you receive a request for information, especially if it is unexpected or alarming, check every detail of the email, including the address it was sent from, contact information, and spelling of names. Don’t click on links or download files from an unsolicited email or from one that you’re unsure about.
Communicate with and through your real estate agent.
Part of the value your real estate agent provides is as a conduit and buffer between you and the other parties involved in your real estate transaction. Reach out to your agent consistently, and let him or her provide you with pertinent information. If communication flows primarily through your agent, you’re less likely to be fooled by an unsolicited email or phone call.
Talk to your title company.
Before you decide what title company to work with, ask them about the cybersecurity protections they have in place, including cyber fraud insurance in the event of a fraudulent financial transaction. Make sure that they will have your back and protect your funds if needed.
Don’t allow anyone to rush you.
One of the ways that scammers motivate you to take action is to create a false sense of urgency. They may do this through a tight turnaround time or by telling you that something must take place immediately. While time is of the essence in real estate transactions, you always have time to consult with your real estate agent, lawyer, or CPA in the case of a transaction-related demand.
Don’t allow anyone to threaten you.
Similarly, a false sense of urgency can be conveyed by telling you that you’ll lose the house, your closing date will fall through, or your mortgage will be denied. In the case of tax fraud, you may be told that you will be imprisoned or fined if you fail to comply with the scammer’s demands. Contact your real estate agent, legal counsel, or a financial advisor before taking any action.
Don’t send personal or financial information through email.
One of the easiest ways to hack your transaction-related information is through email. Rather than having sensitive information transmitted via email, ask your real estate agent about secure transaction coordination through a cloud-based management system. Alternatively, you can set up a secure Dropbox account and share it with your real estate agent, lender, and closing officer in order to ensure that all documents are stored securely.
When in doubt, ask your agent.
We can’t say it enough: if you receive a communication, demand, or request for information from someone other than your trusted real estate agent, contact him or her immediately. Your real estate professional is educated on the latest schemes in your local market and can help you navigate your transaction safely.
Posted On: August 5th, 2020 9:25PM
Today’s homebuyers are not just talking about their plans, they’re actively engaged in the buying process – and they’re serious about it. A recent report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) indicates:
“…. Of American adults considering a future home purchase in the second quarter of 2020, about half (49%) are not simply planning it, they are actively engaged in the process to find a home. That is a significantly higher share than the comparable figure a year ago (41%), which suggests that the COVID-19 crisis and its accompanying record-low mortgage rates have converted some prospective buyers into active buyers.”
It’s no surprise that buyers are out in full force today. Many Americans now need more space to work from home, and the current low mortgage rates are providing an extra boost of motivation to enter the housing market.
If you’re considering selling your house, know that today’s buyers are serious about making a move. Your opportunity to sell your house in a market with high demand is growing, especially as more millennials enter the housing market too. The same report also notes:
“Of Millennials planning a home purchase in the next year, 57% are already actively searching for a home.”
Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:
“When breaking down house-buying power by educational attainment for millennials in 2019, we find that the higher the education, the higher the household income, and the higher the house-buying power. In 2019, median house-buying power for millennials increased 16 percent relative to 2018.”
As demand for homes to buy grows and more millennials enter the market with growing buying power, the opportunity to sell your house grows too.
Today’s buyers are serious ones and more millennials are helping to fuel that charge. So, if you’re considering selling your home, let’s connect today to determine your next steps in the process while buyers are actively looking.
Posted On: August 5th, 2020 9:15PM
We’re sitting in an optimal moment in time for homeowners who are ready to sell their houses and make a move this year. Today’s homeowners are, on average, staying in their homes longer than they used to, and this is one factor driving increased homeowner equity. When equity grows, selling a house becomes increasingly desirable. Here’s a breakdown of why it’s a great time to capitalize on equity gain in today’s market.
“Over the past 10 years, the equity position of homeowners has positively changed as a result of more than eight years of rising home prices. As the economy climbed out of the recession in the first quarter of 2010, 25.9% or 12.1 million homes were still underwater, compared to the first quarter of 2020 when the negative equity share was at 3.4%, or 1.8 million properties. Borrowers have seen an aggregate increase of $6.2 trillion in home equity since the first quarter of 2010 and the average homeowner has gained about $106,100 in equity.”
Increasing equity is enabling many homeowners who are ready to sell their current houses today to sell for an increased profit, and then reinvest their earnings in a new home. According to the Q2 2020 U.S. Home Sales Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, in the second quarter of 2020:
“Home sellers nationwide realized a gain of $75,971 on the typical sale, up from the $66,500 in the first quarter of 2020 and from $65,250 in the second quarter of last year. The latest figure, based on median purchase and resale prices, marked yet another peak level of raw profits in the United States since the housing market began recovering from the Great Recession in 2012.”
If you’ve been taking a closer look at your house recently and are thinking it might be time for you to make a move, determining your equity position is a great place to start. Understanding how much equity you’ve earned over time can be a key factor in helping you realize the potential profits in your real estate investment and move toward your next homeownership goal.
With average home sale profits growing, it’s a great time to leverage your equity and make a move, especially while the inventory of houses for sale and mortgage rates are historically low. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s connect today so you can better understand your home equity position and take one step closer to the home of your dreams.