February 2020 Newsblog

February 2020 NewsBlog

Happy Chinese New Year! 

Year of the Rat 

January 25, 2020 through February 11, 2021

The ups and downs of being a Chinese “Rat”  – 

  • You are the first animal in the whole 12 animal pantheon
  • You are optimistic, energetic, likable but a little stubborn
  • You are a sign of wealth and surplus, as you are a hoarder
  • Lucky colors and numbers: Blue, gold, green, 2, 3
  • Your wealth will come from the southeast and east
  • You tend to forget to eat as you work hard,so remember to eat breakfast and exercise!
  • Compatible with: ox, dragon, monkey
  • Less compatible with: horse, goat, rabbit

Some things that you should not do during the Chinese New Year celebration period, Rat or not –

  • Do not say negative words
  • Do not break ceramics or glass
  • Do not clean or sweep
  • Do not use scissors, knives or other sharp objects

For more information on this New Year, all the above can be found on this site. Have fun checking out all the weird Chinese customs and traditions! 


On the very first few days of the year, our escrow industry, which deals with timely documents and forms A LOT had already been cautioned that we must not abbreviate the year when we are typing or writing it out. We do not want to start or end the year with fraud being committed against us. This article on USA Today makes a good case about writing the full numerical year. So, instead of 1/21/20, be sure you type 1/21/2020 so that no one can go in and change the year on you. Can you imagine if we typed the Note and Trust Deed to be due and payable on 10/19/20 and someone added a “19” behind the 10/19/20, changing the due date to 10/19/2019? So, a word of caution to all!


A decade ago we were 3 years into the market crash and struggling to find our footing. My, how things have changed in the real estate industry the last 10 years, and much of it due to technology. Here is the article and here are some of my bullet points that will clarify the changes:

  • No more driving around looking at houses with clients; look online and if you like the preliminary view, the agent will meet you at the property for a more detailed inspection.
  • No need to face-to-face for signing of documents; use electronic signatures and voila!
  • Cold calling for listings? Agents are more likely to purchase leads from companies who are in that business. 
  • Smartphones make life so much easier! All text and email messages between clients and agents can be accessed on your palm device. No need to even call if you can just text, right?
  • Desk time for agents to get potential customers? It’s rare to even see agents in the office anymore. Everyone works out of their home or car!

And as to our escrow industry – cashiers checks were so past decade. Wired funds became the new norm and now, wire fraud! Trauma! Headaches! New processes! Are we going back to cashier checks now?  

We’ve come a looooong way!


Another one of those head-banging-eye-rolling-what-were-you-thinking-of scenarios. Here’s the story: A mortgage broker who was terribly irate when he was left with a poor review on Yelp, proceeded to respond back on that platform by divulging all his clients’ personal information. In this day and age of consumer privacy, no matter how aggravated you are when your clients leave a bad review, there are other ways to ameliorate the situation besides sharing their personal info for anyone to see. It is no wonder that the mortgage broker was penalized by the FTC, his story made public, and has become the poster child of what NOT to do on bad Yelp reviews. Let that be a lesson to him and to all of us.


If you have not heard, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) rolled in on January 1, 2020 and although the deadline for the regs to be finalized by the Attorney General’s office won’t be until July this year, many companies who deal with handling customers Non Public Personal Information (NPPI) have already put their policies in place, either on their website or giving substantive disclosures to their customers in written format. 

The guidelines state that companies which fall under the following categories have to make their disclosures:

  • Gross revenue over $25 million
  • Buys, sells, receives NPPI of over 50,000 or more consumers, households and devices
  • 50% of more of the above stated review comes from selling consumer’s NPPI

Disclosures must be given to consumers on the following:

  • Right to know what information is collected, used, shared and sold 
  • Right to request a deletion of such personal information
  • Right to opt-out of the selling and sharing
  • Non discriminatory practices against consumers who elect to exercise a right


No, not an earthquake drill. This is a 1031 exchange drill that could keep the ground from rolling under your feet. Are you in a real estate property partnership and want to exchange your portion of the sale for another property? Here’s an article from Ken Harris of First American Exchange Services regarding just this type of scenario:  https://www.firstexchange.com/drop-and-swap. It’s always good to know slightly esoteric things like this so that you can better help your clients or do your own financial planning.


People are not moving. Even when rates are down. Take me for example. Why not? Because I don’t need to! You think all senior citizens need to move because they are older and there is too much space and upkeep? Not necessarily, especially when many have adult children who are coming back to live with them because these children may not be able to find or qualify for a home for themselves. Here is an opinion article with some US census thrown in that fits right in with my thoughts.

And why are these young adults not able to afford to move out of their parent’s home and establish their own, (besides unaffordability of the market price)? I have to agree with this article – The cost of their own children’s care. What better way than to live at your old home with built in child care system personified by the grandparents? Many Chinese do this, and families from other cultural backgrounds do the same thing.

On the other end of the housing spectrum, if you have some discretionary income and are looking at a vacation home to pack the kids and grandkids to, Keller Williams International has just established offices in the Turks and Caicos, a smattering of islands near the Bahamas.  Read about it here. Well, you just never know when you will win that Powerball.  


➤ Are you in the gig economy? The IRS wants you to know that you need to pre-plan how to file your income tax and your upcoming year. Planning ahead will mean less income tax headaches at the end of the year.  https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/gig-economy-work-can-affect-a-taxpayers-bottom-line

➤ Are you looking for someone to prepare your income taxes? Every year at this time the IRS advises consumers not be taken in by “ghost tax return preparers”. The IRS as our Ghostbusters!   https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-dont-be-victim-to-ghost-tax-return-preparers

➤ Are you aware of what is showing on your credit report? The FTC recommends everyone utilize the once-a-year free credit report to monitor what is happening on your credit. Catch problems early so that it is less work to correct. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/01/getting-your-credit-report


To start the new year off right, let it be known that Viva Escrow is hiring! We are looking for Escrow Officers who will fit our mission statement – using education and technology to provide the best customer service for our clients and provide a great working environment for our staff. Know of anyone seeking to make a change? https://www.vivaescrow.com/hiring.

😊 😊 😊

And on that note here is the funny of the month and a sure-fire way of NOT making it past our front door. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sz0o9clVQu8


People are totally fine with eating the same exact thing for breakfast every day, but consider it too repetitive to have the same thing for dinner two nights in a row.

“Escrow is my FOREMOST language!”

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely the author’s.

Your comments and viewpoints are always welcome.