Beware of Wire Fraud

Wire fraud is a cybercrime not just limited to real estate—it can occur anytime someone is “wiring” money, aka transferring it electronically to another person or entity. In real estate, it can occur when a scammer poses as your Realtor, lawyer, or a title company representative, then convinces you to wire your down payment to their account, never to be seen again.

Mortgage wire fraud relies on a complicated hacking technique called phishing. In a phishing scam, a hacker uses fake emails, phone numbers or websites to impersonate someone you trust. They often use an email address or phone number that looks like the one your real estate agent or lender uses. These emails and texts can look authentic and even contain personal information that only someone you know would have. Of course, the scammer phishes your personal information out of your agent’s inbox beforehand.

Another technique used is called “spoofing” to make themselves seem more legitimate. Spoofing occurs when a scammer uses special software to mimic your agent or lender’s phone number or email. When a scammer calls or emails you from a spoofed account, it can look exactly like you’re talking to someone you trust.

The goal of mortgage wire fraud is to get your closing costs into an account that the scammer owns. The scammer may tell you that there’s been a last-minute change in their banking procedures. They might also tell you that they sent the wrong address the first time.

The truth is that the address the scammer gives you will go straight into their pockets. Once you initiate a wire transfer, it’s very difficult to get your money back. Mortgage wire fraud can leave you thousands of dollars in debt and delay your closing.

The Bottom Line: Buying and selling a home is an exciting time, but there can be pitfalls for unsuspecting consumers. Watch this video for four tips to protect your money and advice for what to do if you’ve been targeted by a scam.

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First Impressions Matter Even in a Seller’s Market

Curb appeal is everything, even during a seller’s market. It is paramount that you make sure the exterior is in excellent shape. There is truth to that old saying, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression” – many potential buyers drive by the home before they make the call to see it.  Making sure that it is in the best shape, will get them in the front door. Be sure to call the best Realtor in town to get advice. Sometimes, as the owner, you can’t see as clearly what needs to be changed or updated and need a professional to help.

Title First Agency hears a lot of what buyers see and we have listed some of the exterior home improvements that can increase the resale value of your home AND  help sell your home even faster.

The front door: If potential buyers have decided to see your home, the door is the first thing they will see and walk through.  Just a fresh coat of paint or replacement or removal of a damaged screen or storm door will speak volumes. Polish metal knobs.  Consider replacing the door it if it is worn-out or banged-up. It’s one of the investments made that can more than pay for itself with the amount of value it adds.  Then, add potted plants to each side of your freshened up or new front door.

The approach to the front door: How is the driveway? Does it need to be power washed? Resealed? Is there a fence? Is it broken anywhere? Are there cracked pavers? A knowledgeable and honest Realtor will take that “approach” walk with you and help point out things you may not even notice because you have walked by it so many times.

Update your landscaping: Before the drive-by, most potential buyers search on the internet for a home. The pictures will be worth a thousand words and to have beautiful landscaping will help showcase your home and be put on the buyer’s list to see. The best Realtor will tell you that you want to make it easy for possible buyers to envision themselves coming home to your home every day. Remove any distractions (garden accessories, etc)- spruce up it up with inexpensive shrubs and brightly colored flowers. If it’s Fall or Winter, make sure your yard has been raked of leaves, sticks and other debris.

Home repairs: Make sure there isn’t any loose siding, replace loose or damaged roof shingles. Look for any wood rot – again, you may need to call an experienced Realtor to help you “see” what you have looked at every day. Is there a deck, a front porch or a patio? If your home needs a new roof, it would be in your best interest to just replace it. Buyers tend to shy away from homes that will be needing a new roof soon. And, adding the detail of “new roof” to your listing will grab even more buyers’ attention.

Windows: Fix any cracks, clean screens, and storm windows. Have you washed your windows in a while? In between the glass and the screen is a whole world of dust and fun that should be cleaned. Shine them so that from the street they look brand new.

The Bottom Line: Even in a seller’s market as we are experiencing just about everywhere right now– some homes linger on the market for weeks or months, while the homes around them go into contract within days. A book is judged by its cover, and you only have one shot to make a good impression.  Even in a hot market, buyers want to see a home without visible deferred maintenance. Take the time to put on your home’s best face. Make your home stand out from all the other homes on the market and get the most out of your sale.

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Take Advantage of This Seller’s Market

What a time to be in the real estate housing market! High buyer demand coupled with record-low housing inventory is creating the ultimate sellers’ market, which means if you have thought about selling your home, now could possibly be your time. However, that doesn’t mean sellers are guaranteed success no matter what. Don’t pass on hiring a Realtor, you’ll need their help.

When inventory is low, like it is in the current market, too many people erroneously think that buyers will pay any asking price. Even in a sellers’ market, listing your house for the right price will maximize the number of buyers that see your house. This creates the best environment for bidding wars, which in turn are more likely to increase the final sale price. An experienced Realtor will help you set the best price for your house so you can achieve your financial goals.

A big plus in a hot seller’s market is that the homes that are older, outdated, or more unconventional sell during this time more than any other. Buyers want a home and will overlook any flaws just to get in one. The seller has a better than good chance to sell their home without making major updates. A Realtor can go through the comps in your neighborhood and evaluate whether you should fix anything or leave your home as-is.

You still should stage your home so that it is seen in the best light. Buyers become more emotionally involved if they can see themselves in the home. Curb appeal is extremely important when you’re trying to sell your home. Trim the hedges, cut the grass, and remove any unsightly weeds from the yard. If the paint on the outside of your home is peeling, consider giving it a touch-up or, if that’s too much work, power wash it to remove dirt and grime. Also, give the outside of the windows a good washing to make them sparkle. Staging is a good way to get multiple buyers and perhaps start a bidding war opportunity. Why not get the most out of the sale?

Hot markets see more buyers purchasing with cash or minimal financing than other markets. Hopefully, your buyer might not need to be approved for a loan, which would greatly reduce the amount of time your property is under contract. If you decide to accept an all-cash offer, you will likely close in a short amount of time. Be prepared, at least mentally, for this possibility prior to placing your property on the market. It might even be wise to have a rental lined up if you do not find another property to buy right away.

Most importantly, know that you are selling in an up market and are more likely to sell for closer to your asking price than you would in a down market. So, you absolutely want to take advantage of it and do everything you can to make it shine. You might even be one of the many sellers that will get more for your home than you ever imagined.

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Advantages of Using a Realtor in a Seller’s Market

Here we are, in almost every state in America, smack in the middle of a seller’s market. People looking for their new homes are desperate and frustrated. Inventory is scarce and bidding wars are abundant. It is, indeed, a challenging time to purchase a home. However, if you have ever thought about selling your home, now might be the best time to do it. If that is the case, you are surely aware that your home will sell quickly and most likely for more money.

If it’s so easy to sell your home right now, you might wonder if you should just sell it yourself and skip hiring an agent. If youre going to sell it and make money on it, what is the point of getting involved with a Realtor?

There are plenty of good reasons why working with a Realtor in today’s seller’s market is important.


All Realtors have access to a myriad of marketing opportunities that will get your home in front of buyers such as the MLS, social media, open houses, advertising, and word of mouth within their well-connected network. You’ll get much more exposure. The MLS is the first place most Realtors begin searches for their clients and it is also automatically syndicated and displayed on third-party sites like Zillow or Trulia.

Often sellers get overconfident in this market climate and forget the basics, like staging your home, updating inside and outside, and clearing out clutter. Homes are not just quickly snapped up for a high price no matter the condition. The home should have amenities comparable to other properties for sale in the same price range. If you need to upgrade certain things in the home, do it as these changes can make all the difference between a quick sale and one that sits.

It’s good to remember the condition of your home can either grab a buyer’s attention or have them running away, even in a seller’s market.


Do you think you would be able to handle a bidding war that is common right now in this seller’s market? There are challenges to working with multiple offers on your home and when you have a Realtor negotiating for you there is a better chance of you making the highest profit on your home.

The best Realtors know how to help their clients get the most money during negotiations. They are able to skillfully navigate prospective buyers’ emotions, work with multiple offers effectively, and know how to use timing to your advantage.


Even though it is a seller’s market and bidding wars are normal, you will want to have a pricing strategy to ensure your home is sold for the most money possible. It’s tempting to price your home well above the market but it could and probably will turn off informed buyers and leave your home sitting on the market. Even if a buyer agrees to your big price, they might not be able to close if the appraisal comes in low. Additionally, a good Realtor will fight for your property value. They know how to deal with appraisers to get the value where it needs to be for closing.

The main goal is to find the perfect price and an experienced Realtor knows how to do that. The price will reflect the comps in your neighborhood, including homes currently in escrow which might be more than the current comps. A Realtor will be able to reach out to other agents to get the information needed.

The Bottom Line: It’s quite challenging during a normal market, it’s a whole other stressful endeavor during a seller’s market. Hiring a Realtor right now is preferable because of their experience and resources which lead homes to garner higher prices on the market.

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