Happy End of the Year Holidays!
WHERE ARE YOU IN TERMS OF WEALTH?
As we hit the end of the year, we look back to where we have been and look forward to where we will go. Consider this: A report from Credit Suisse gives us the number of millionaires in the world. It has come to a point in which millionaires are a dime a dozen (haha). The next report will need to focus on who is a BILLIONARE. Check that out on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index.
As we talk about BILLIONAIRES, Jeff Bezos (Amazon) is now 100 times a Billionaire, all because we LOVE SHOPPING, especially on Black Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday…. I have to ask: after you hit $1 Billion, does another 99 add anything to the psyche?
Now, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) is also looking to join the $100 Billionaires Club by launching the real estate listings venture on Facebook through its Marketplace site. According to the article, the concentration right now is on rental listings, in partnerships with other sites, but will soon expand to real estate sales listings.
This, my friends, is going to be a game changer for the existing real estate listing market: what does this do to the Multiple Listings System (MLS) that the real estate agents currently work under? If agents can advertise on Facebook through Marketplace, what need will there be for the MLS? Why belong to a Realty Board at all?
I would love to hear my real estate clients comment on this trend for the future. Leave me a message or send me an e-mail!
HOT! HOT! HOT!
Hot subject du jour! Are there more Billionaires in the making through the astronomical returns of Bitcoin? Is this a flash in the pan or is this digital currency here to stay?
I reported last month that a few real estate transactions are being handled through bitcoin payment, and now it looks like a New York rental platform is offering bitcoin payment options to their tenants and landlords. If New York is doing this, you can be sure California will be trying to do this soon, too!
Despite my reporting on this new “Hot Topic” in past months, I am still trying to figure out what and how a bitcoin is created.
The articles say that “Cryptocurrencies are virtual “coins” that are “mined” by computers completing complex algorithms.”
And that means, what?
Does that coin only exist in virtual form in that special computer? If I hit a button, will the coins plop down a chute and land in my hand? Or get wired into my bank account? Un-techie but inquiring minds want to know!
*Editor’s note: A BitCoin is a reward for what is called mining. Computers with the bitcoin software lend their processing power to help solve complex mathematical problems. As they get solved, the system will reward the solving computer a bitcoin.
The system is also designed to pare down the rewards after a period of time, and any trading market is not regulated by any administrator. Hence there is a limited number of possible bitcoins that can exist, all of which are uniquely identifiable, which helps give it value.
MEANWHILE, ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PROVERBIAL COIN….SHADES OF THE ECONOMIC CRASH
In more down-to-earth, easier-to-understand news, Flagstar Bank, a big player in the mortgage industry, is rolling out their new zero down plus assistance with closing costs program for low income borrowers in Detroit. Here is another article elaborating.
I know this is being rolled out in Detroit for now, under very qualified parameters, but we know that there are many, many, many communities in the nation where consumers desperately need assistance to purchase a home.
If it catches on, who’s to say how quickly this will spread? And when there is “no skin in the game,” it becomes so easy to walk if the economy in those areas becomes unsustainable. Does this sound familiar? Have we been through that? We have seen the results, haven’t we?
Meanwhile, in California, Flagstar is buying the existing Desert Community Bank in San Bernardino as part of their strategic goals.
THE IMPORTANCE OF AFFILIATED DISCLOSURES:
Yes, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is in disarray with not just one, but two, appointees vying for temporary Directorship on the Monday after Thanksgiving.
This was a shoot-out at the OK Corral between Cordray’s appointee – Leandra English – and Trump’s appointee – Mick Mulvaney – which involved some bribing (donuts on Mulvaney’s side) and a lawsuit (English’s side), much to the consternation of the Bureau and the exasperation of the rest of the government, Congress, and general public.
Will the Bureau be dismantled? Mandate reduced? It remains to be seen, but it seems Mulvaney has the upper hand as of now and he is putting a 30 day hold on some regulations and lawsuits in the pipeline.
What is probably not going to be affected is this example of what the CFPB does best – protect the consumer. This recent enforcement action against a Title Insurance Agent in Indiana addresses the issue that no matter if it is between Title Insurance Agents, Escrow Agents, Real Estate Brokers or Mortgage Lenders, there has to be full disclosure to the consumers of any relationships that exists between the parties.
Did you know that some of the large real estate brokerage houses own their own Escrow Companies, their own Title Companies and their own Mortgage Lenders?
All the players in these so-called “independent entities” are INCENTIVIZED to push the Buyer and Seller to use all of their own affiliated companies when a real estate transaction is put together.
Just how does this help the Buyer or Seller when all the services are locked into one ownership?
Where is the neutrality? Where is the customer service? Where is the consumers’ ability to choose the cheapest cost?
Lesson to be learned. Clear affiliated relationship disclosures should be given to the consumer prior to the opening of the transaction so that they have a say in the matter, and, if not done so, they can only blame themselves when the CFPB comes knocking at their door.
TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF EQUIFAX:
How bad is it for Equifax? They are facing inquiries from government agencies, Congress, and all 50 state attorney general offices.
There are lawsuits from a number of states in addition to 240 class action lawsuits. Wow. This is what happens when the roof caves in on you at the same time the ground opens up.
Cyber security professionals state that in light of the horrendous hack, you should put a freeze on your credit report.
In the same vein, want to find out if your e-mail has been hacked? This site can tell you: https://haveibeenpwned.com/
FOREIGNERS – DO YOU NEED TO RENEW YOUR ITIN?
Did you know that a foreigner who has an ITIN that they have not used in the last 3 years stands a chance to lose it? The IRS has put out a bulletin regarding this matter of foreigners ITIN.
Under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act (PATH), ITINs which have not been used in the last 3 years, or ITIN’s that have middle digits of 70, 71, 72 or 80, need to be renewed before the end of the year.
Please see the bulletin to determine if you or your foreign client might be concerned with this matter.
Tis the season for bows and ornaments. Ever wonder where dealers get those big bows to put on top of that brand new BMW that will be sitting in your driveway this season? Well, I did. And voila!
How many millennials does it take to screw in a light bulb?
None! Dad will change it next time he comes down into the basement.
With that, let me wish all of my reader friends and clients a Happy Holiday Season. And if the festivities and the eggnog gets to be too much for me and I forget, let me be the first to wish you a Happy New Year – 2018, too!