Report mortgage fraud

The real estate industry, like other financial industries, has its issues with scammers and fraud. The appearance of new scams and new versions of old scams make mortgage fraud a continuing problem for the industry.

report mortgage fraud
Mortgage pre approval

It’s not a victimless crime. You might think of those who are involved in a mortgage fraud scams as cheaters and criminals.  However, it is not uncommon for innocent consumers to get caught up in a mortgage fraud scam.  In the past, home flipping schemes ensnared unwitting consumers. During the great recession, mortgage modification and foreclosure rescue scams targeted unknowing homeowners.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (fbi.gov) wants you to report mortgage fraud. The FBI describes mortgage fraud occurring “when someone lies to influence a bank’s mortgage decision or if a distressed homeowner is the victim of a fraud.”  There are two types of mortgage fraud, fraud for profit (such as home flipping schemes), and fraud for housing (such as mortgage application fraud). 

Application fraud is likely the most common mortgage fraud, as it can occur by any material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission in relation to getting a loan.  “Occupancy fraud” is when a borrower lies to get a better interest rate by stating they will occupy the property when it’s intended to be a rental property.  “Employment fraud” is when a borrower lists an employer they don’t work for. “Income fraud” is when a borrower misrepresents their income to improve their profile for underwriters. 

Among the many types of mortgage fraud, one takes advantage of seniors with home equity conversion mortgages (also known as reverse annuity mortgage). The FHA underwrites a HECM for borrowers who qualify when they become 62 years old. The HECM provides homeowners access to home equity without payment until the borrower moves or dies. Scammers obtain a HECM in the name of a recruited homeowner to convert equity in the homes into cash. The scammers keep the cash and pay a fee to the senior citizen or sometimes just take the full payout. Sometimes, appraisals are inflated. This type of fraud is more difficult to detect because the lender usually doesn’t discover something is wrong until the home owner dies.

The FBI works with partners to investigate mortgage and financial institution fraud cases. Report mortgage fraud to the FBI (https://www.fbi.gov/investigate/white-collar-crime).

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2022

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Mortgage rates are on the move

This week’s Freddie Mac press release headline “Mortgage Rates Exceed Six Percent for the First Time Since 2008” grabbed everyone’s attention.  Indeed, mortgage rates are on the move and what does that mean for you and the housing market?

Mortgage rates are on the move
Get pre-approved before home shopping

According to Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Sam Khater, “Mortgage rates continued to rise alongside hotter-than-expected inflation numbers this week, exceeding six percent for the first time since late 2008. Although the increase in rates will continue to dampen demand and put downward pressure on home prices, inventory remains inadequate. This indicates that while home price declines will likely continue, they should not be large.”

In her blog post, Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting for the National Association of Realtors, points out that the change in mortgage rates increased monthly payments about 60% compared to the same time last year. She also calls attention to the fact that the pace of rising rents is at a forty-year high! Regardless if you are renting or buying a home, housing affordability is declining.  Using a little math, she underscores how increasing rents outpace a fixed-rate mortgage on the purchase of a home.

Yes, mortgage rates are increasing. But a little history will put things in perspective. We all know that mortgage rates reached its peak in the early 1981 as a result of the deep recession of the late 1970’s.  Shortly afterward, average mortgage rates dropped of the next several decades (albeit the occasional peak). 

However, after the peak housing market of 2007, average mortgage rates dropped slightly in 2008 as a reaction to the market crashes and a decimated housing market. It wasn’t until five years later and average mortgage rates hovering in 3 percent range, that the housing market once again became broadly attractive to owner occupants (as opposed to investors). Mortgage rates have been averaging below 4 percent since then, with the exception of 2018 when rates rose above 4 percent.

Mortgage rates are on the move. Average mortgage rates are now above 6 percent, and there may be a silver lining.  Many are hoping that the rising interest rates will reduce home prices (although that remains to be seen).  However, after the brief rate shock is over, increased mortgage rates will likely incentivize banks to lend which could increase the pool of home buyers

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2022

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

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Get the necessary permits

Are you planning any home improvements in the near future?  Get the necessary permits.  I can already hear some of you grumbling about it, complaining that it’s just a money grab, but the truth is that the permitting process has a purpose.

Get the necessary permits
Home imporvements

The permitting process assures that buildings, land and home improvements adhere to the building and zoning codes within your locality. Building and zoning codes exist to ensure that homes and other improvements are safe, structurally sound, and help maintain health standard.  If you think you’re savvy for avoiding the permitting process on your home improvements, read on. 

If you’ve circumvented the permitting process when building your improvement, chances are that there will be consequences in the future.  If you’re lucky, the permitting inspectors will catch up with you during your construction project. If you’re still in the process of your construction, you’ll likely get a notice to cease the project and go through the permitting process.  However, if your required to reconcile with your local permit office after the improvement is completed, the process can vary depending on your local permit office and the age of the improvement.

Unpermitted improvements are red flags for home buyers and their agents. When you decide to sell, there’s a good chance that home buyers will ask you about permits on your improvements, especially if it is touted in the listing. Don’t think you can hide it, permit info is typically readily available online or calling the permit office.  Your home sale price can be affected, depending on the size and scope of the unpermitted work.

Unpermitted improvements can also be a potential problem for your insurance company.  For example, any claims that concern an unpermitted improvement could potentially be denied.

A common issue I come across more than you think is that although permits were issued, there was never a final inspection by the permitting office. Many contractors also fail to follow through to the final inspection. The consequences of not passing a final inspection could potentially have the same effect as not having a permit at all. 

Regardless of the type of home improvement project you do, make certain the appropriate permits are obtained and finaled. The same applies when you hire a licensed contractor, make certain the appropriate permits are obtained and finaled.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2022

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Catch up with deferred maintenance

After the Great Recession, the country’s housing stock deteriorated.  Many financially strapped home owners could not afford the cost of maintaining their home.  Many of those home owners deferred maintenance thinking they would do it when their financial picture got better.  Others abandoned their homes, willing to face foreclosure to have a fresh start.

deferred maintenance
Home quality

As a result, the housing stock deteriorated as time passed. Foreclosed homes deteriorated during the foreclosure process.  And many others decided to sell their deferred maintenance home.  It wasn’t until five to seven years after the recession that “the cost of doing nothing” was realized.

However, the antithesis was the many home owners who opted to update and remodeled their homes in lieu of moving.  The decision to stay and “make do” was primarily because of the depressed home sale market. Many home owners who wanted to move couldn’t because the potential sale price would have been much lower than what the home owner needed to move.  Additionally, there were many who were “under-water,” meaning that their mortgage payoff was higher than what the home was worth at that time.

As the market improved, home sellers realized that their well maintained, renovated/updated homes, sell faster and for more. Real estate agents quickly embraced the idea of renovating prior to putting the home on the market.  The pay off for this strategy was evident in the recent sellers’ market (2020-2022), where well maintained and updated homes garnered a lot of attention, received multiple offers, and launched home sale prices to double digit increases.

Just as remodeling can increase the value of your home, deferring maintenance will decrease your home’s value. Unfortunately, many home owners, and their agents, believe that years of deferred maintenance can be overcome with simple and inexpensive renovations.  The truth is that years of deferred maintenance deteriorates the condition of your home, making it vulnerable to the elements, pests, and time.  Deferring maintenance also makes repairs and updates more costly down the road. 

If your home has deferred maintenance, it’s not too late to catch up.  If there are many projects with which to catch up, prioritize the most important.  You will find that as you catch up with deferred maintenance, your comfort and enjoyment of your home increases.  And if you’re planning a move in near future, keeping up with home maintenance will make your home sale preparation straightforward and easy.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2022

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Reading the housing stats

There has been lots of speculation about the economy and the housing market.  Reading the housing stats, there are a few similarities in today’s housing market compared to that of 2006-2007.  However, there are also many differences. 

Reading the housing stats
Home sale inventory is increasing

Of course, many of you reading the housing stats and bring up that this is as an indication of impending implosion. For example, the National Association of Realtors August 24th press release report on pending home sales indicated that pending home sales “…dropped slightly by 1.0% from June. It was the second straight monthly decline and the eighth in the last nine months.” There are however, regional differences, “Pending sales fell in three of four major regions, with the West posting a small increase. Compared to the prior year, contract signings declined by double digits in each region, with pending sales in the West down 30%.” Pending home sales is a measure of how many homes went under contract during a specified period of time.

Existing-home sales (resale homes) also declined according to the National Association of Realtors.  The NAR August 18th press release reported that existing-home sales “…fell for the sixth consecutive month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.81 million. Sales were down 5.9% from June and 20.2% from one year ago.

Although the contracts and sales are evening out, home prices continue to climb. As reported by the NAR, the median home sale price increased 10.8 percent from the same time last year.  According to National Association of Realtors Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, “Home prices are still rising by double-digit percentages year-over-year, but annual price appreciation should moderate to the typical rate of 5% by the end of this year and into 2023. With mortgage rates expected to stabilize near 6% alongside steady job creation, home sales should start to rise by early next yearThe ongoing sales decline reflects the impact of the mortgage rate peak of 6% in early June. Home sales may soon stabilize since mortgage rates have fallen to near 5%, thereby giving an additional boost of purchasing power to home buyers.

And for those of you who are interested in distressed sales, distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have been essentially unchanged over the last year. July sales comprised about 1% of distressed sales. 

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2022

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.