May 2017 Newsblog

The Market is BUZZING!

Finally! I am happy to report that the real estate market has turned around.

After a dismal November, December, January and February, we saw the comeback in March and April and we hope it keeps on going through the year. NAR reported March the highest selling month in the last decade, since the economic crash.

According to Redfin, based on the sales over market price, the most competitive markets for March are: Tacoma, Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, with  San Jose, taking the #1 spot because in that particular city the homes are being sold 69.6% over asking price.

That, my friends, is a definite WOW!

There is no doubt that hi-tech drives the market. Here is an amusing chart of the price of homes in the areas where Google has U.S. Offices.

The average price of a home in Mountain View where Google has their headquarters is almost $1,400,000. With this amount a Google employee could relocate to their Austin, Texas location and buy 3.3 homes. What do you think of that?

Is this a classic example of Location, Location, Location?

Do Google employees really need to be in their corporate office in order to work?

Of course not! There is this thing called the Internet.

And with location, don’t forget that “hidden” cost of homeownership – the property taxes.

In California we are grateful that Proposition 13 keeps us in the range of affordability. Our base rate for property tax calculation is 1% of the purchase value, plus additional for bonds and improvements levied on by cities, school districts etc.

In Los Angeles County we use 1.25% of the purchase value of the residence as a guideline to property taxes. In other locations throughout the nation, the tax rate could be much higher.

The highest, according to this analysis, is New Jersey, where the rate is 2.31%.

Simple math – a $700,000 medium priced Los Angeles home would have $8,750 in taxes a year.

In New Jersey, it would be $16,170. OUCH!

With property prices rising and demand exceeding supply, you might think that this is a Seller’s market, which in a sense, is correct.

Multiple Offers, over listing price, bidding wars, sound familiar?

Unless you are already situated in a new home, the sale of the old home without a new place locked in may be the start of another round of headaches as you turn from being a Seller to becoming a Buyer.

“Subject to Seller purchasing a new home” is becoming more of an issue now, and Redfin’s article points this out very succinctly.

So, if you are selling your home, be sure you not only have a Plan A (buy new home) on hand, but also have a Plan B (rent for a short while) and maybe even a Plan C (move in with relatives) in the works.

Okay, enough of the real estate market. Let’s chat a little about Hacking and Wire Fraud, the bane of every Escrow Officer’s existence.

How do we protect ourselves from the Fraudsters who so easily divert funds meant for our transactions by hacking into e-mail addresses utilizing public domains (Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc)?

The settlement and title industry are not the only ones heavily hit, banks and financial institutions are even more susceptible.

Here is the story of the month of a Brazilian bank that was hacked so badly that the thieves took over the bank’s domain name for five hours and extrapolated all the private client account details.

As the article says, “… it was hard to even quantify the extent of the theft…”. Where does it end? We can protect ourselves all we can, but when third parties are infiltrated it becomes a massive wave that hits us on the way out.

We would not have a complete newsblog if I did not bring you up to date on the happenings at Wells Fargo.

You all know that this bank was able to “claw” back 180 million dollars that they originally paid to their head honchos.

In my book “claw back” means “give-the-money-back-because-you-did-not- deserve- it- and- you- are- going-down- with- us”. That is justly deserved.

With this news item we supplement stories garnered from the Wells Fargo internal report“A branch manager had a teenage daughter with 24 accounts, an adult daughter with 18 accounts, a husband with 21 accounts, a brother with 14 accounts….” Just incredible. Claw back. Yes, indeed.

Finally, my public interest story of the month. Have you ever wondered why some streets are called a “street”, some are “avenue”, some are “boulevards”? I know, right? I just bet you had sleepless nights just thinking about this head scratching, world defining, question.

Well, here is the answer, and the bags under my eyes just thanks the person who posted this on the ‘Net.

Passing this along – a few new marketing mottos for United Airlines :

“We treat you like we treat your luggage.”

“We beat the customer.  Not the competition.”

“We put the hospital in hospitality.”