Wire fraud in real estate transactions is on the rise!

We’ve all heard the horror stories about hackers infiltrating real estate transactions to steal closing funds. As fraudsters become ever more sophisticated, we all have to be vigilant to protect ourselves.

What are the latest tactics?
Fraudsters create emails that appear to be from an escrow officer—known as “spoofing”—and  ask you to re-route funds needed to close their transaction. And, because they know responsible settlement professionals have begun using call-back procedures to validate and verify emails regarding wiring of funds, thieves also may try calling you using prepaid “burner” phones and applications that can spoof the caller ID of any phone number the caller chooses—even valid phone numbers of actual businesses.

How do they get the information?
The fraudsters hack and monitor non-secure communications between agents, buyers and sellers to gather information about the transaction. They then copy an email template and pose as the escrow officer in a message to clients. They may even add publicly available information about the “sender’s” personal identity that can be found on flyers, company web pages and social media to help make the message appear legitimate to the unsuspecting recipient, who then acts accordingly not realizing that their response is being routed to a hacker who is trying to steal their funds.

What can you do to help prevent this fraud?
While you can’t stop hackers from impersonating parties in a transaction, you can minimize the likelihood that you might act on fraudulent instructions.

  • Make sure you (or anyone you know) who is buying a home understand that a title company’s wiring instructions should never change. If you are ever asked (via an email) to change the wire information, it’s probably a scam. Contact your title company to verify the wiring instructions and verify that your lender has the proper information to wire funds to your title company.
  • Many title companies use encryption to protect confidential information going back and forth through email. However, be aware that if you forward that email through an unsecured method, the encryption—and hence the security of the information—is lost.
  • If you suspect an email account has been spoofed, pick up the phone and speak with your escrow officer directly. Don’t use email for any communication if you believe an account has been compromised.

Buyers are prime targets for fraudsters, but title companies, today, have established a number of procedures to help keep them safe.

Make sure you are aware of this latest scheme so you can avoid becoming an unwitting victim.

 

Lack of awareness of low down payment programs is slowing down many buyers.

The article, Down Payment Ignorance Persists, from www.realestateeconomywatch.com, reports that Despite FHA, more than 2000 down payment assistance programs are available.
These are available from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and private lenders ranging from Wells Fargo to Bank of America!
Yet, most consumers don’t realize they can buy a home with less than 10 percent down today.

Here is the link to the entire article:  http://www.realestateeconomywatch.com/2016/09/down-payment-ignorance-persists/

 

7 Year New-Home Slump in Phoenix is Over

The article, Signs point to end of 7-year new-home slump in metro Phoenix, from www.azcentral.com, reports that Metro Phoenix’s new-home market is definitely rebounding from its seven-year slump. And builders started 2016 strong. New-home permits in January were up 57 percent from the same month in 2015, according to RL Brown Housing Reports. Lower prices could be drawing more buyers. The median price of new home fell to about $294,800 in January from $298,100 in December. Housing analysts RL Brown and Greg Burger say Valley builders are offering more lower-priced homes to better compete with the resale market. The median price of an existing home is about $225,000 now. In Pinal County, metro Phoenix’s farthest southeastern suburb, new-home prices start as low as $140,000. And that’s probably why new-home construction there shot up 114 percent last month. The increase in new-home building and sales is expected to continue for the new few years. Brown and Burger are forecasting about 18,000 new homes will be built Valley-wide this year. That will be about a 13 percent increase from last year’s home total.  Here is the link to the entire article:  http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/real-estate/catherine-reagor/2016/02/26/signs-point-end-new-home-slump-metro-phoenix/80943050/

Homes currently available in Dove Valley Ranch

View a list of homes currently available in Dove Valley Ranch.
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Homes currently available in Tatum Ranch

View a list of homes currently available in Tatum Ranch.
Register for your personal search portal. Create and save your own searches
Set up automatic notifications to your email when new homes hit the market that match your criteria.

Registration is free, and safe!
None of your information is shared on the internet!

 

Renting is twice as expensive as buying

It’s more affordable to buy a home now in most U.S. metros than it was 15 years ago, even for millennials putting down less money on a home, according to a Zillow analysis of third-quarter income and home value data.
Check out the housingwire.com article for more details.

 

The 3% down payment mortgage makes a comeback

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced recently that they will start backing mortgages with down payments of as little as 3% of the home’s price. But borrowers will still need to meet strict criteria first, the two government-backed mortgage giants said.

See the CNNMoney article for details.

 

Foundation Problems to watch for when searching for a new home.

Foundation Problems to watch for when searching for a new home.

Many home buyers are rightfully concerned about the condition of the foundation on their pending investment. Whether caused by mechanical defects, or by ‘mother nature’, Foundation Problems are something to watch for when searching for a new home.

One of the big problems that we have here in the desert is a condition known as ‘expansive soil’.
This is where there are veins or layers of a clay known as ‘expansive soil’, that is very reactive to moisture.  With the addition of some water, like during a monsoon rainstorm, this expansive soil can swell to many times it original volume. Then, during a span of very hot and dry conditions, this soil will then shrink again to its original volume, or maybe a little less. These changes can have an adverse effect on foundations, sidewalks, driveways, pools, etc.

I have prepared a video showing some of the more severe settling effects on a property that would raise a red flag on its condition.  In a case such as this, a certified foundation inspector should probably be hired to check things out.

Foundation Problems. What to watch for when searching for a new home.

Rich

Termites. What to watch for when searching for a new home.

Termites. What to watch for when searching for a new home.

I have found over the years that many buyers are not aware of the termite conditions here in the valley.  A large percentage of the out of state buyers and a good number of in the area buyers are not fully knowledgeable on termites here in the desert.
In the Valley of the Sun, the termites are the subterranean variety, meaning that they live underground and emerge from their habitat to find food (wood). This is the reason to know about Termites and what to watch for when searching for a new home.

Termites in a home
Here is a video where I am showing some signs that there are termites in a property. This is useful for both the buyer, and a current homeowner, as the property needs to be properly treated to stop and prevent infestation.

There is an old saying here in the valley that says:

‘There are two kinds of homes in the valley, those with termites and those that will get termites’.

In essence, this means that since termites live everywhere in the desert area, the best thing is preventative treatment.

When a home is built, the soil beneath the foundation and the slabs are heavily treated with chemicals to keep out the termites.  However, over time and with a host of environmental conditions, the treatment can wear out.  This is where a maintenance program with periodic checking and re-treatment will keep these little buggers out!  A good investment for the buck to protect your property.

Termites. What to watch for when searching for a new home.

Rich

Is Dove Valley Ranch Water Contaminated by Cave Creek Landfill

Not too long ago, I had a client ask if it was safe to purchase a home in Dove Valley Ranch due to the land fill right next door. And she wondered if homes were selling there.

In most areas of Dove Valley, it is un-noticable.  However, at the southwest corner of the development, it stands out like a sore thumb.

 Here are a couple of new homes along the landfill and one nice available lot.
 This is a view traveling north from the southernmost subdivision.

The current information from the ADEQ is as follows:
In 1997, TCE was found at a 5.0 micrograms per liter level.
There are no known health risks from the ground water.  This groundwater is located over 600 (ft bgs) and there is no pathway to this water.
The nearest drinking water wells for the city of Phoenix are over a mile away to the southeast. These city wells are over 1,000 (ft bgs) deep.
The Maricopa County Groundwater project is monitoring the Cave Creek Landfill using about 7 testing wells surrounding the landfill. Some are for testing the water ‘plume’, and others are for vapor testing.

Here is one such vapor  testing well .

At this time, the county sees no dangers to the drinking water aquifers.

There has also been updates to the Dove Valley Ranch CC&R’s to include disclosure of this project.

For additional information on the County’s groundwater project, contact me for more info.

Conclusion

Once my client read over this available report, she decided that Dove Valley was safe and we are now including Dove Valley Ranch in her search area.  She will now just keep in mind that the land fill might be visible to some areas in the ranch.

Overall, I feel that this has not hampered the sales in the ranch, in fact, the new home subdivision in the southwest corner of the ranch is building and selling rapidly.

Rich