IT’S JUNE AND I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!
WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES AND YOU CAN’T EVEN DODGE
I thought government regulations change at the speed of molasses, but for some independent agencies, it can happen at the speed of light(ning). The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) changed their Geographical Targeting Order (GTO) from one month to the next, much to our consternation.
I sent out notification of their extension change on April 19 and barely a month later, on May 21, they changed the parameters of their order again. Not only that, this agency made the American Land Title Association (ALTA) – the trade organization that Title Companies belong to – sign a “Confidentiality Agreement” so that Title Companies would not disclose any aspect of the changed parameters to anyone outside of the title industry or be subject to criminal charges.
Apparently, Settlement Agents have been left out of the loop because, you know, what we don’t know we can’t tell. Our clients may be required to provide FinCEN with their personal information, but we don’t know why. How’s that for the exact reverse of transparency? Here is the link to my full article. Since we have been denied the information, on every single transaction that is closing we have to ask our Title Officer if the file will fall under the new GTO parameters and if so, we will have to get the Buyer to complete a 4 page form with their personal information.
WILL WE NEVER LEARN? SHADES OF THE ECONOMIC CRASH
On a beautiful Memorial Day weekend morning I happened on this article and it has really troubled me. I had just finished putting down my thoughts on what led to the 2007-2008 economic crash and now I have my worst fears outlined by another writer.
The writer points out that the government has to take a good amount of responsibility for this and I agree. The whole Dodd Frank Law passed 7 years ago was supposed to prevent another economic catastrophe. Why are we seemingly set on going down that path again? Will we never learn? Or is it a case that a different set of people needs to go through this misery again to learn?
ERICA? BANK OF AMERICA HAS ITS OWN SIRI?
When I read this article my whole spine straightened, I sat up and my eyebrows almost reached my hairline. Say, what? BOA has developed its own Artificial Intelligence and her name is “Erica”? Why is it that these AI’s and robots are not assigned a male name? Is it because females are demonstratively more intelligent? But I digress.
The lead-in to this article was that “The virtual assistant, Erica, is still learning and becomes smarter the more she is used.” Okaaay, now that isn’t just so spooky, not at all because gee, when an AI starts learning and gets smarter, and does more, with or without our instructions, and starts inundating us with their ads and services, then pretty soon….. have you ever watched Terminator??
WELLS FARGO STAFF ALTERS CLIENTS NPPI? ARE YOU SERIOUS??
I really, really hate to pick on Wells Fargo, they have really been BAD NEWS these past couple of years, but really, it’s all their own fault for doing stupid things that make our jaws drop.
I hope no one I know has Wells Fargo Bank stock because I bet it is taking a beating. So what else is new, you ask? What else did they do now? Because making up fake accounts just wasn’t enough, overcharging loan points and fees was not enough, demanding unneeded insurance on their car loans was not enough, and now, this new report says that some of their staff were caught changing customers’ personal information, like social security numbers and birth dates without their clients’ consent.
And if that news wasn’t bad enough, their spokesman went on to point out that “No customers were negatively impacted, no data left the company and no products or services were sold as a result.”
And that makes it okay? Someone needs to point out to them that although it is great that there was “no negative impact”, the really important point is – what were these staffers thinking, fooling around changing clients’ personal information? Another “what-the-heck-jaw-dropping-unbelievable-totally-inexcusable” story. From Wells Fargo.
OH, I SEE, YOU HAVE TO PICK THE RIGHT DAY TO SELL YOUR HOME!
Not a Fengshui thing, although I am sure that wouldn’t hurt. Redfin did a little more down to earth (non-scientific?) survey and came up with some conclusions that deserves some thought.
There is a method to optimizing the listing of your home for faster and better results according to this article . So here’s the summary scoop: listing it on Wednesday brings a better price and listing it on Thursday sells it faster.
The reasons behind it are very logical if not scientific. However, in today’s market, what my other clients (the Buyers) want to know is, “How do we negotiate through a bidding war and get what we want at the price we want?”
Oh, and about the Fengshui, trust me on this, having the main staircase facing the front door IS NOT very good fengshui. And heaven forbid if the master bedroom is on the top of the stairs facing it!
THE YOKE ON OUR SHOULDERS – RENT COSTS
As we talk about losing the bidding war, and for those of us who have Millennials who can’t even start the bidding war, here is the breakdown on the highest rent cities.
As usual, California leads the nation in everything, so, they have to lead in high rent costs, too. California has 5 of the 10 highest, so I think it’s time to face the true reasons why it is difficult for those Millennials to go into the home bidding war. They not only have student loan debt to payoff but they also have to shell out for their exorbitant present rent just to have a roof over their head. After all that who has money to participate in a bidding war??
So this brings us to the following up article about California migration patterns. In a nutshell, out-of-state folks who can afford to live here and like the technological and creative industries that abound in this state are going to migrate in to attempt to make their own fortunes. But if you are presently in-state and can’t afford that basic of all basics – affordable housing – your better choice would be to migrate out.
What a vicious cycle. Living in California will be unaffordable, especially for the young kids and as they migrate out and others migrate in, the population demographics will change. We’ll see if the next census starts showing the migration.
AMAZON – THEIR NEWEST FORAY INTO THE HOUSING INDUSTRY
As the consummate sales entrepreneur, there is nothing that Jeff Bezos does not want a finger in the pie. Why not housing? Amazon sells, we buy. Does he secretly own a national real estate brokerage or financial institution? I don’t know but I am sure that when it happens it will make front page news.
Today, Amazon is going to partner with Lennar , national builder of homes, and put showrooms in their model homes to stage smart home products. You will see how Amazon will “make your life easier” (I call it “control your life”) and how the future will look. Unfortunately, my husband, a big tech toy fan, says, “Yes, you are looking at the future and it is today”. Okaay! So if we buy a Lennar home will the cost of an Alexa be built in to the purchase price? What a deal. Well, tell you what, I’m gonna go watch The Jetsons because pretty soon our world will look like theirs.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO MY LIVELIHOOD?
What is historically the biggest threat to the escrow transaction since the establishment of this settlement industry? It is FRAUD.
Today, the fear of wire fraud has taken over the industry. Across the nation Settlement Agents have hunkered down to protect the consumers assets that are held in trust. However it bears to be remembered that fraud comes in many other forms and its threats have been ongoing. “Threats to Escrow – Grim Tales of Fraud” will be my presentation at the National Settlement Services Summit (NS3) to be held in Detroit, MI, June 6-8, 2018. I am honored to be able to present this topic together with Arthur Davis III, Legislative Advocate for the American Escrow Association. Here is a link to a brief description .
Finally, copied from another blog:
Dear Lord –
We used to have Bob Hope, Johnny Cash and Steve Jobs.
Now we do not have Hope, Cash or Jobs…
Please don’t let Kevin Bacon die.
All the best!