July 2016 Newsblog

BREXIT! REGREXIT?  This is the national equivalent of a “morning- after – what- the- heck- did- I -do -last -night?” scenario.

A few hours of excitement and now you have to live with the morning after consequences.

But we are all about US so how does this affect the U.S.? Initial reports say that it will take a few years before the world economy settles down but there is already evidence of immediate impact in mortgage and real estate.

Mortgage rates are dropping and for sure the Federal Reserve will keep the rates low. Don’t want to rock the boat here while the boat is sinking over there.

This particular article points out that instability in the UK can lead to the draining of capital and transference to a place with more stability, which could mean that a lot of the money will be flowing this way across the pond.

We do need some good news for our mortgage markets.

Meanwhile, I will say that the U.K. is the value destination during this period of uncertainty.

Take advantage of the drop in pound and get more bucks for your pound.

On the other hand, don’t look to that second British invasion to save our economy. Let’s think about what/who we have now and how to work with them.

I am talking about Millennials (1980 – 1990’s) who will be eyeing to get into the real estate market.

By the way, on a side note, British Millennials are not happy about Brexit and I, for one, can’t blame them. In one night they wiped out parts of the promising future for this upcoming generation.

What are the questions these Millennials should think of when they consider whether to rent or buy?


1.  On this short list is – do I have enough $$$$$ saved for the downpayment? And to answer that, there are a few things that you can do.

2.  How much debt am I in already?

3. Will it be a long or short stay in this home?

4. Do I have the credit score needed?

5. Did I factor in all the costs to homeownership?

6. There? or location, location, location. Looking at these lists, I remember going through it when I was my generation’s Millennial. Huh. Things have not changed that much.

Unlike my generation, what has changed in today’s market is not the concerns for the interest rate that they will be getting, but concerns on whether they can actually find something they like and can afford.

Where are some of the prime nationwide housing markets for them? Click on this article with its little infographics.

Okay, so I don’t see any California metro areas, but Portland and Seattle are at least on the same coast and far enough from L.A. that parental guidance can be avoided. Oh, and just ignore the cat.

On the subject of the West Coast, if you already have your real estate here, it has probably appreciated much more than elsewhere in the country, which makes is super for the Seller in the long run but tough for a Buyer as described in this article.

Buying in parts of California is tough, tough! Just this morning I talked to a client of mine who sold 6 months ago and still has not found a decent house to re-purchase. He says he can’t compete with “all cash” and $50K over listing price.

I said “WOW”. Shades of the market boom before the market crash.

What good is appreciation if you can’t afford to buy after you sell and take advantage of it?

If you are a statistics person you might find the stats from the U.S. Census Bureau on new housing and construction rather interesting: here and here.

Of course, if you can’t wait for prices to drop before changing to a larger home, you can do the next best thing, which is start a remodeling project.

Add a walk-in closet! Add a man cave! Add a patio with jacuzzi!

Take down that wall and let the sun shine in. Don’t live in a dungeon. Remodeling statistics can be found here.  Yes, there are statistics for everything. That comes with living in the First World, guys. Geeks and nerds have to make a living.

Yes, this month it’s all about those Millennials, because darn, I have nothing to say about us Old Fogeys (anywhere from dinosaur age to 1960’s).

We are history, guys, in more ways than one.

We are set in our ways, grumble about technology, can’t handle a TV remote and scorn social media.

We have no better use than to provide social/political/economic commentary that the Millennials don’t want to hear, and oh, right, we can be looked on as the BANK for that Millennial downpayment.

On to the hottest topic since the economic crash and probably much scarier.

Unless you are Matt Damon and have spent the last 350 Sols on Mars growing potatoes, you should know that back on Earth CYBER CRIME is running and ruining how we do our business and how we guard our personal lives.

You know we have a problem when all the acronymic government agencies (OCC, FBI, IRS, SEC, FTC, CFPB) and more, come out with their own individual news blasts asking us to watch and beware.

Have you ever seen global cyber attacks in real time?

Go to http://www.norse-corp.com/ if you don’t mind a beating and click on Live Attacks. Ping! Ping! Wham! Bang! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

Unfortunately the news has blazed like wildfire through hackers’ circles (somedays the Internet is a baaaad thing) that the American settlement industry handles lots of U.S. dollars day in and day out.

It has gotten to the point that we are not only leery of sending out funds by wire to client accounts, we are also wondering if the incoming wires we receive are real.

Yes, a hacker faked an incoming wire notification perfectly and the escrow officer closed the transaction, thinking the Buyer’s funds were really in. What a miserable way to transact business.

So consumers, beware!

Do your own best due diligence to verify that you are sending funds to the correct escrow bank and account number. Call them before sending and verify the account numbers. Do not Trust!

Verify! Verify! Verify!

And if you are a real estate agent do not think that it is up to the escrow company to have the necessary security measures.

You are an integral part of the transaction and bad stuff may fall on your plate to be swallowed. A recent lawsuit filed by First American Title is suing the fraudsters and the Real Estate Agents as accomplices in a wire fraud action.

The loss sustained by First American was caused by a hacker who hacked into the e-mail address of the Seller’s Real Estate Agent and proceeded to send a fake e-mail to First American to change Seller’s net proceeds wire instruction.

The lawsuit stated that the Real Estate Agent failed to “implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices to protect the personal information of the Seller from an unauthorized access, use, modification or disclosure.”

The lawsuit is recent and ongoing so this is one that we will all watch very carefully for results. Yep, bad stuff.

Personal information is always at jeopardy, but never more so in the newest “CEO Fraud”  scam-  a recently evolved fraud scheme in which the a company officer’s e-mail is hacked and phishing requests for staff personal info and W-2 forms are sent from HR and auditing departments.

Or better even yet, you might find your company’s computer system information for sale online on a fraudsters’ “E-Bay” site for the sale of company information. How about that.

Do you wonder why these fraudsters don’t just make more counterfeit money instead of wanting to take our hard earned dollars?

You would think it would be so easy as advanced technology has made it so easy to make fraudulent checks, fraudulent forms, fraudulent identification cards. Why not fraudulent currency?

Here is the video on why life is really not that easy and you really have to work for every dollar you make. No copy and paste!

My public service announcement for the month: Watch out for Tony Robbins, Motivational Speaker. He wants you to walk on hot coals to prove you got his message. Really? And they follow like sheep.

And finally, here is a funny that I took off of the Rob Chrisman blog that I subscribe to. Don’t know where he got it from, but it’s amusing enough that I gotta share the laughter:

Dan was a single guy living at home with his father and working in the family business. When he found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a wife with whom to share his fortune.  

One evening at an investment meeting he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away. “I may look like just an ordinary man,” he said to her, “but in just a few years, my father will die, and I’ll inherit 20 million dollars.”

Impressed, the woman obtained his business card and three days later, she became his stepmother.

Women are so much better at estate planning than men.