Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Craigslist Rental Housing Scam- BEWARE!

We have recently received more reports of the Internet rental scam that is targeting North Texas consumers. The scammers copy listing advertisement information available on the Internet and post the properties for rent on Craigslist, sometimes at an unrealistic rental rate, to attract potential renters. They may use an anonymous reply-to email or may actually set up a Yahoo! account that appears to go to the listing agent for the property. When contacted, they respond as if they are the owner of the property, that they have had to relocate out of the country and have had bad past experiences with renting their home so are now requiring a good deal of personal information before sending the potential renter additional information or keys to view the property. In other areas of the country, this correspondence eventually requires up front monies to obtain entry into the property. Please be aware of this scam and look for your property information on the rental ads in Craigslist and flag them if the posting is not legitimate.

taken from dfwrealtors.com 8-28-09

Saturday, February 21, 2009


It's not a surprise to me, but Texas swept the top 5 spots in Builder magazine’s list of “Healthiest Housing Markets for 2009.”

Houston ranked first, Austin second, Fort Worth third, San Antonio fourth and Dallas fifth.

We have been saying for a long time that we are lucky to be in Texas. For those of us here, I don't think we know how lucky we really are. Sure there are title & mortgage companies going out of business and real estate professionals changing careers daily, but the Texas housing market remains strong and for that we should be thankful! GO TEXAS!

(Reported from RECON online- February 20, 2009)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Crystal Ball for 2009- Texas Real Estate Market Predictions

I really wish I had a crystal ball. While many local real estate and title experts try to predict the future, the future is only one thing for sure and that is uncertain. 2009 is definitely uncertain. We do not know how the government bailout will affect the market. We have no idea how the housing crisis will work out or if the stimulus plan will actually help homeowners facing foreclosure. The fact is, we don't have a crystal ball. I have heard some say that 2009 will be great come March while others are predicting this year to be another tough year with the "low point" being 4th quarter. Here is what the Dallas Morning News is reporting:

DALLAS (Dallas Morning News) – A new report from Moody’s Economy.com and Fiserve Lending Solutions predicts when Texas home price declines will bottom out and what the peak-to-bottom price drop will look like.
Most major Texas cities went into the home market downturn later than many throughout the country and will level off ahead of the U.S. average, according to the report’s analysts.
Houston has one of the smallest expected home price declines in the country at 0.2 percent. Analysts expect the city’s home price decline to bottom out in third quarter 2009.
Austin’s peak to bottom home price is expected to fall by 1.3 percent, hitting bottom in fourth quarter 2009.
Dallas–Fort Worth’s price decline will come to 1.1 percent and bottom out in third quarter 2009.
The report predicts San Antonio will experience the largest decrease in the state with a 1.6 percent decline, but it will bottom out in first quarter 2010.
The overall U.S. market could see a price drop of 36.2 percent and bottom out in the fourth quarter of this year.

Fraud Insights - What is a "Buy and Bail"

What's a Buy and Bail?

By Lisa A. TylerNational Escrow Administrator, Fidelity National Financial

In markets hit hard by plummeting home prices and rising foreclosures, the real estate industry has discovered a phenomenon known as the "buy-and-bail." In a buy-and-bail transaction the borrower is up-to-date on the mortgage, but the value of his or her home has fallen below the amount owed. This is called an "upside down" mortgage. The borrower continues to make payments on the upside down mortgage secured by his or her first home, while applying for a purchase money mortgage on another home, usually at a substantially lower price than the first home. The borrower typically tells his or her new lender that the original property is pending sale, or tells the lender one of the two properties will be rented as an investment property.

The loophole works as follows: The homeowner provides a rental agreement showing he or she will rent out the first home. The lender will allow rental income to cover as much as 75 percent of the mortgage payment on the first home when determining if the borrower can make payments on two homes, enabling homeowners to secure another mortgage they might not otherwise be able to afford. After the new property is secured, the buy-and-bail borrower allows the first home to go into foreclosure. Although the buy-and-bail owner's foreclosure will remain on his or her credit report for at least seven years, it is difficult to detect a buy-and-bail scheme prior to consummation of the new purchase. If the parties to the transaction disclose the scheme to the settlement agent, the new lender should immediately be made aware.

Another change related to today's real estate market is the growing number of real estate professionals who have put their expertise in dealing with lenders to work on helping troubled borrowers avoid foreclosure by negotiating loan modifications. As a result, our operations have been inundated with calls from the negotiators wanting us to act as bill collectors. Read "Loan Modifications" to learn how to avoid opening orders that might never close and do not involve the services of an escrow holder or the issuance of title insurance.

Pat Baldwin, escrow administrator from Fidelity's operation in Maricopa County, Ariz., also shares two stories with "Paying Off a Private Note" and "Indemnity Gone Wrong."

Lastly, on Nov. 17, 2008, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a final rule in its reform of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). While some of the more onerous provisions of the earlier proposed rule (including the closing script) have been removed from the final version, several remaining provisions impact the escrow settlement process. The new rule requires a closer working relationship with the lenders who provide residential transaction financing.

6 Percent is Dead?

Are the days of 6% real estate commissions dead?

Inman is posting an article today about 6 percent brokerages being dead....what do you think?

Here is a portion of the article written by CondoDomain.com founder Anthony Longo

"...the "standardization" and commonality of the 6 percent commission in the industry is dead and 2009 will be the year in which we will see major movement to innovative fee-based business structures."

Here is part on Longo's reasoning:

"As a seller, it is quite possibly a good idea to have your agent tied to a percentage-based commission on the sales price. After all, your agent's compensation is tied to the highest possible price he can negotiate for you. Not bad, actually -- this kind of makes sense.
But looking at it in reverse, as a buyer, the buyer's agent makes LESS commission for negotiating the lowest possible price for you. This is not in line. It doesn't make much sense. Actually, it does not make sense at all."

This makes perfect sense. Why has the industry stuck to the old 6% rule? I think agents like the 6% rule. It simplifies the process- makes it quite easy. I have noticed in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area that many listing agents are adding on a "transaction fee" to their commissions. They are taking the listing at 6% (or in some cases less than 6%) and then charging a $495- $1200 transaction fee. This seems to make more sense to me. Why would an agent spend time and money marketing a listing that is over-priced, never sells and eventually expires? Collecting a transaction fee makes perfect sense when coupled with a less than 6% commission. Maybe this is the direction that real estate is heading in 2009.

What do you think?

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Drop Card by Amy Torres Fidelity National Title

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Go Green??

LAS VEGAS (Real Estate Center) – While “green” may have become little more than a buzzword to some skeptical consumers, some building industry insiders say the vast majority of consumers have embraced the long-term benefits and understand that going green is “the right thing to do.”
At the International Builders Show today, representatives for several home appliance manufacturers were on hand to talk about the future of green as well as their efforts to create products that are more energy efficient.
So what does the future hold?
For Marvin Windows and Doors, it’s all about daylight. Company spokesman Brett Boyum said they are working on products that bring more sun — and the sun’s natural health benefits — into the home.
Energy efficiency gets all the press and attention within political circles, but what about finding more efficient ways to use the world’s water supply?
“In the very near future, water will be a bigger issue than energy is today,” said Omer “Butch” Gaudette.
Guadette, director of trade relations for Whirlpool Corporation, said 97 percent of the world’s water supply is salienated. Two percent of the remaining drinkable water is tied up in polar ice caps, leaving 1 percent for immediate consumption.
To help ensure that 1 percent is used as efficiently as possible, companies such as Whirlpool and Kohler are stepping up their efforts to create more efficient appliances. Among those efforts are waterless urinals and dual-flush toilets.
Does it cost more to be green? Gaudette says no. While some added cost goes into developing energy efficient products, he said consumers will see value in the long run.