March 2020 Newsblog

March 2020 NewsBlog

Who in WHO named the coronavirus? Why not the COORSvirus or BUDvirus? Or COVINAvirus? Poor Corona (beer or location), forevermore will their name be linked to a pandemic that saw the fall of markets and nations (China).

What is mind boggling is that we are so interconnected – our daily lives, the well being of our industries, the rise and fall of our economies, all are being affected by things so infinitesimally small that it is only viewable through a high powered microscope. There is one word that could describe what this could turn into: Apocalyptic. Again I quote from John Donne, and with more feeling now, “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls… it tolls for thee” 

What should we do? Wash your hands frequently. Don’t congregate with crowds. Don’t travel – ships and planes are to be avoided. Do what you do for earthquake preparedness; it could be the same type of catastrophe. And my personal favorite – stop shaking hands or giving hugs. A bow, a wave, is just as respectful.   

Meanwhile Chinese New Year has come and gone, those who went to China are probably stuck there (I know a number of clients and acquaintances who are twiddling their thumbs there), and the real estate market has (finally!) jumped forward. 

According to the National Association of Realtors the metro area of Los Angeles/Long Beach/Glendale has been crowned the least affordable housing market for the area’s median income, which is $73,100. Isn’t it just lovely to have that distinction. See the article here

If you are looking to compare sales price per square foot you might be interested in the comparison of 10 cities nationwide, with Boston at the top of the list ($1,160/sq ft) and Detroit ($42/sq ft) at the bottom, we are somewhere in between. Article. I just love to read how much bang you can buy for your buck. 

Now, if you are a Lookie-Loo and always searching, in this article Zillow points to Las Vegas as the area getting the largest share of views. Not the strip, obviously, but there are many lovely communities within 15 minutes and viewing distance.   

The purchase and sale of real estate has changed in the last year, with iBuyers leading the change. What is an iBuyer? My first mention of them was in my June 2019 blog and to reiterate, these are real estate tech companies who have developed their own algorithm driven flipping platforms to entice buyers to conduct their one stop shopping. They offer you online sites to review potential homes for purchase, help you make the offer, and then put you on their platform to handle the escrow, mortgage, title and all the necessary steps of the purchase . Need to sell your home first? No problem! Some will even buy your existing home (at their offered price, of course), thereby freeing up your equity for the new purchase immediately. Zillow and Opendoor have pretty much cornered the market. 

But is going through iBuyers the way to do it? Are Sellers getting less than what they would under a traditional sale through a real estate agent? This article says not, that the discount difference is about 1.3%. Well, it’s all in the price, isn’t it? 1..3% of $300,000 may only be $3,900 but at $500,000 the difference is $6,500 and at $1,000,000 it is $13,000. Now that is a chunk of change. 

According to Redfin, it’s Raleigh (NC) and Phoenix (AZ) that are really going strong in iBuyer sales. 

If you are a California real estate agent and would like to learn about iBuyer, the California Association of Realtors is offering an online course at this link.



You are not going to believe what happened in one of my files just recently. There is at least one important lesson to be learned: Do not trust others, only trust what we read ourselves.

Two months after the start of a commercial property sale transaction my Buyer cancelled the transaction after it was determined by the appraiser that there was a 900 sq. ft discrepancy from the records the Seller had given. A cancellation amendment was drawn and sent to the parties with the following verbiage, in part:   

…Receipt of this cancellation instruction signed by all parties shall be deemed parties’ agreement to cancel and to mutually release and relieve each other, Escrow Holder and Real Estate Brokers from all past, present and/or future responsibilities, liabilities and/or obligations in connection with this escrow…

In a couple of days the Buyer emailed his signed copy of the cancellation which was then forwarded to the Seller for his signature. The Seller signed and my transaction formally cancelled. 

A month after the cancellation the Buyer sent the Seller and his real estate agent a demand to pay Buyer’s out-of-pocket costs for the transaction which amounted to over $10,000. The Seller and his agent thought that the cancellation they signed stated that the parties would mutually release each other of further responsibilities. So what is this?

Upon further inspection of the signed cancellation it was found that what was signed was a version that was different from what I had originally drawn:

(tampered version) …Receipt of this cancellation instruction signed by all parties shall be deemed parties’ agreement to cancel and to release and relieve Escrow Holder from all past, present and/or future responsibilities, liabilities and/or obligations in connection with this escrow… 

Who tampered and doctored my pdf version without letting me know? Obviously, it was the Buyer as they signed first. Any person who draws a document and submits it out for approval should be alerted by the recipients if there are concerns with the wording on the document. Attorneys usually redline their changes so that parties can review appropriately. On a pdf version, the very least, if changes needed to be made, a slash out or cross out with an initial by its side can serve as notification. Or a simple call or email communication would have been sufficient to start a dialogue on a revision. To have the pdf document doctored and returned, showing no traces of the tampering, no differences in line spacing or font and still on my letterhead is beyond what is acceptable in business practices. It is unethical, unconscionable and as far as I am concerned, a matter of fraud. 

I don’t know how the Seller and the real estate agent will respond to the Buyer’s monetary demands, but one thing is for certain: the integrity of our documents as the neutral third party in this transaction was breached and this is a very serious matter.   


My public announcement of the month:

FTC (Federal Trade Commission) Tip – Are you using mobile payment apps to send money (Venmo, for instance) to others? Are you sure you are sending the money to the right person?  There are things you can do to protect yourself. Here is the Tip Link

My (maybe not so) funny of the month:

Have you read the book, “The Future is Faster than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis et al? Highly recommended by my husband. In the same vein, what with Siri and Alexa and Hey, Google! here is the next generation of personal assistants. With this BB-8 around will I always have to be fully dressed and made up?

Bread is like the sun. It rises in the yeast and sets in the waist.

“Escrow is my FOREMOST language!”

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

Your comments and viewpoints are always welcome.