Lease applicant identity fraud is significantly growing, warns a new report from CoreLogic, a real estate data firm. Many apartment property managers are reporting some form of identity-related fraud, which is costing them thousands of dollars in losses from renters, the report says.

The two most common frauds landlords are reporting are renter applicants who are using fraudulent identities or who are misrepresenting their intentions.

The report shows the typical reasons that applicants are likely committing fraud are an attempt to live rent-free until evicted or to hide their true identity or history because of their possible immigration status, criminal history, poor credit history, or no job history.

Many of these applicants—except the ones desiring to live rent-free until eviction—are paying their rent on time. “They feel justified in committing fraud because they know you wouldn’t rent to them—for good reason—if you knew the truth,” the report notes. “The fact they pay rent on time, however, does not lessen the risk they present.”

The report calls out four main types of identity fraud that property managers need to beware:

First-person fraud (also called “muling”): The applicant (or mule) acts for another person in renting the apartment, using their identity and information. Another person—different from the listed applicant—then moves in. The applicant may be a family member or friend, or it may be a scam to rent out the apartment on their own and charge above-market fees to the person living there.

Synthetic identity fraud (fictitious identity): A scammer creates a fake identity—likely one that is taken from multiple stolen sources, often from children, elderly, or deceased people—to apply on a rental application. This is the fastest growing type of identity-related fraud. It accounts for 85% of all identity fraud, the report notes.

Third-party fraud: A person’s identity is unknowingly stolen. Their Social Security number, date of birth, or other forms of identification may be used by another person to fraudulently apply for an apartment lease in someone else’s name.

Identity manipulation fraud: A scammer slightly alters some of their information in a way that may look like a typo or spelling error. For example, a Social Security number may be off by one number or a slightly different name or an altered birth date may be noted. “The goal of identity manipulation is to confuse the system so that the application doesn’t connect to the fraudster’s true identity,” the study notes.

Millennials tend to have higher expectations than older homeowners did about their ideal starter home, according to a new survey by Clovered, a home insurance resource. Millennials tend to want larger homes with modern designs.

More millennials are entering the housing market for the first time. Clovered recently surveyed more than 1,000 consumers about their first home to learn which features and amenities mattered to them the most.

Clovered dream home chart. Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

© Clovered

The top factors first-time buyers tended to place the most weight on when considering where to buy their starter home include:

  1. Affordability of the area
  2. Low crime rates
  3. Proximity to workplace
  4. Climate
  5. Geography of the area
  6. Friendly neighbors
  7. Proximity to a variety of stores/shopping options
  8. Move-in ready
  9. Proximity to friends and family
  10. Tax rates

“It’s hard to deny the emotional aspect of buying a home,” Clovered researchers note in the study. “When you’re touring potential listings and trying to decide where you want to raise your family or put down roots, you’re fantasizing about what life in that home could be like. Instead of thinking about where the house is located or how much you’ll have to pay in property taxes, it’s the tangible features of a home that really help sell it for most people.”

The most important home features first-time buyers surveyed said they were looking for:

  1. Central air conditioning: 62.7%
  2. Private backyard: 61.9%
  3. Storage: 53.5%
  4. Plenty of natural light: 50.4%
  5. A separate laundry room: 40.3%
  6. Hardwood floors: 39.5%
  7. Walk-in closet in master bedroom: 34.8%
  8. Open floor plan: 32.7%
  9. Quality kitchen cabinets: 29.2%
  10. Backyard deck: 26.4%
Source:

Lower mortgage rates may be getting offset by higher home prices. Single-family homes and condos sold for a median price of $270,000 in the third quarter—up 8.3% from a year ago and a new high, a newly released report from ATTOM Data Solutions shows.

Homeowners who sold in the third quarter earned a median profit of 34.5%—a postrecession high. They saw an average home price gain since purchase of $68,686, according to the report.

The National Association of REALTORS® also reported earlier this week that median existing-home prices are rising. In September, they reached a median of $272,100, up 5.9% from a year ago. All four major regions of the U.S. saw home prices rise last month, NAR reports.

“The seven-year U.S. housing boom is back in high gear,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. “After a series of relatively small price increase quarters, home prices saw quite the uptick, seller profits rose and the problem of distressed sales continued to fade, helping to make the third quarter the strongest in four years. That’s all happened as mortgage rates sank back to near-historic lows, which clearly powered the market upward along with stock market surges and a continued strong economy. There had been signs before the latest surge of a cooling market, but they seem to have diminished, at least for now.”

Median home prices rose year over year in 148 of the 155 metro areas ATTOM researchers analyzed in the third quarter. The largest spikes were in Lansing, Mich. (up 25.1%); Green Bay, Wis. (up 18.1%); Johnson City, Tenn. (up 16.7%); Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, N.C. (up 13.7%); and Spokane, Wash. (up 13.5%).

Median home prices in 79% of the 155 metros tracked also reached prerecession peaks last quarter. They were led by Kennewick, Wash. (99% above); Greeley, Colo. (89% above); Shreveport, La. (84% above); Denver (79% above); and Nashville, Tenn. (75% above).

Only three major metros saw an annual price drop in the third quarter: Kansas City, Mo.-Kan. (down 9.4%); San Jose, Calif. (down 3.3%), and Hartford, Conn. (down 0.3%).

Nationally, the average savings for homeowners with solar panels providing power is $1,075 annually. That can offset 67% of the homes’ electric bills, according to a new analysis of solar-powered home data from 1,800 homes nationwide conducted by Sense, a home energy firm.

But how much homeowners actually see in savings largely depends on where they live.

Sunny areas of the U.S. stand to benefit, as expected. For example, homeowners in Utah and California tend to gain the most from their solar investment, the study finds. Utah residents are able to offset 84% of their utility bill with solar power, while California residents offset nearly 75% of their bill.

But homeowners in Northeast also tend to see big gain, the study found. The following Northeast states found some of the highest offsets to their utility bills: New Hampshire (76%); Vermont (70%); Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania (67%). These Northeast states even beat out sunny Arizona, where owners were able to offset 66% of their average utility bill by using solar power.

“State regulations that impact the payback on solar energy by utilities are another big factor in calculating your pay-off,” Sense notes in its study. “Many states pay residents for the solar power they generate at the same rate as what they charge. This approach is called net metering. The rest of the states use a variety of pricing methods that effectively reduce the payback on solar for their customers.”

Homeowners considering solar will want to find out how much their utility will payback to them for the solar power they don’t use that ends up returning into the grid. In states with net metering, residents won’t need to worry as much about timing their usable. But states without net metering, residents will receive a lower payback on their solar power from their utilities and researchers say those homeowners likely will want to explore ways to change their electricity use to peak solar production teams.

Researchers found that most homeowners use less than half of their solar power directly and then feed it back to the grid or invest in battery storage to use it later.

“Homes that use most of their energy during peak solar hours can maximize their solar investment,” the researchers note.

Source:

Realogy announced Monday a new partnership with AARP that will allow seniors to earn a cash-back reward or bonus when they buy or sell a home with an agent affiliated with a Realogy brand. The program is expected to launch nationally in early 2020.

Realogy brands include Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, ERA, Sotheby’s International Realty, and Corcoran.

“With millions of adults over 50 buying and selling homes each year, we are excited to develop a unique benefits program that guides and rewards AARP members during another important milestone in their lives,” says Ryan Schneider, Realogy’s chief executive officer and president.

Seniors are a powerful force in the housing market. The National Association of REALTORS® reported in its 2019 generational trends survey that consumers over the age of 50 made up nearly 40% of home buyers and the largest group of home sellers, at 55%.

AARP offers services to nearly 38 million members. The cash-back offer will be available in most states as a gift card or commission reduction at closing. The cash-back bonus is available only with the purchase or the sale of a home through the use of one of Realogy’s participating real estate firms. The actual amount received is based on the purchase or sales price of the home.

“For many older Americans, relocating to a new home is part of a major life stage transition, such as retiring, downsizing, or changing jobs,” says John Larew, senior vice president of branded products at AARP Services Inc. “The real estate program from Realogy is designed to help AARP members successfully navigate that transition while saving money in the process.”

Source:

October 8, 2019

Concerns over personal finances are giving some home buyers the jitters even as lower mortgage rates are boosting affordability, a new consumer index from Fannie Mae finds. Consumer sentiment in housing dropped in September from August’s high, the index found.

More respondents believe now is a good time to buy and sell a home, but there was a notable drop in the share of consumers who said they were not concerned about losing their jobs.

Overall, Fannie Mae’s consumer sentiment index on the housing market fell in September by 2.3 points to a reading of 91.5. Still, it is 3.8 points higher compared to a year ago.

“Consumer sentiment remains relatively strong overall, though uncertainty about the economy and individual financial circumstances appear to be weighing on housing market attitudes a bit more than a month ago,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist. “Consumers who are pessimistic about current housing market conditions are more likely to cite unfavorable economic conditions than the prior month. Job confidence remains high but still well shy of its July reading.”

The share of consumers who say their household income is significantly higher than it was a year ago was at 21% in the September survey.

More consumers do believe now is a better time to buy rather than sell. Lower mortgage rates are helping to spread that attitude. Because of lower mortgage rates, average monthly payment on an average priced home is 10% lower than it was last November when mortgage rates were nearing 5%, Black Knight reports. Lower mortgage rates are allowing buyers to purchase a home that costs $46,000 more and pay the same monthly payment as they would have compared to last November, Black Knight data shows. Home prices are still rising, but they are moderating.

“Back in November 2018, we were reporting on home affordability hitting a nine-year low,” says Black Knight Data & Analytics President Ben Graboske. “Interest rates were nearing 5%, pushing the share of national median income required to make the principal and interest (P&I) payments on the purchase of the average-priced home to 23.7%. While still below long-term averages, that made housing the least affordable it had been since 2009, spurring a noticeable and extended slowdown in home price growth.”

Here are some additional findings from Fannie Mae’s latest consumer housing survey taken in September:

  • 28%: The net share of Americans who say now is a good time to buy is up 3 percentage points.
  • 44%: The net share of those who say it’s a good time to sell increased by 4 percentage points, matching the same level as July.
  • 29%: The net share of Americans who say home prices will rise is down 7 percentage points, continuing a decline that started in June.
  • 69%: The net share of Americans who say they are not concerned about losing their job is down 8 percentage points and continuing a decline from last month.

October 24, 2019

Millennials are increasingly using Veterans Affairs loans to become homeowners. The number of loans backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs rose 2.3% annually in September. The uptick was led by a 14% jump in the number of mortgages for millennial veterans and active-duty military personnel, according to a report by Veterans United, one of the nation’s largest VA lenders.

“There has been a question in real estate circles for years about when millennials are going to start buying,” says Chris Birk, director of education for Veterans United. Some young buyers are jumping in sooner than their peers because of VA loans, he says. “They don’t have to spend years saving for a down payment,” he notes.

VA loans allow qualified veterans and service members to purchase a home with no down payment and no mortgage insurance.

Millennials and Generation Z buyers comprised 45% of all VA purchase loans in the last fiscal year ending September 30.

The top cities for millennial and Generation Z buyers who used a VA loan from September 2019 to September 2018 were:

  1. Jacksonville, N.C.
  2. Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood metro area, Texas
  3. Oklahoma City
  4. El Paso, Texas
  5. Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin metro area, Fla.
  6. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
  7. Jacksonville, Fla.
  8. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area, Fla.
  9. Augusta-Richmond County, Ga.
  10. Las Vegas

October 8, 2019

Homeowners can do plenty to spruce up their home and make it more enticing for buyers. But when they’re narrowing their list, what are a few quick fixes that can have a big impact? Besides a fresh coat of paint, Redfin highlighted some additional ideas on its blog, including:

Update the door.

A new front door can be a cost-effective update that can make a big difference, real estate pros say. “Solid wood doors are always a classic style for homes not to go out of style anytime soon,” Redfin notes on its blog. “They’re solid and typically last much longer than alternative materials like fiberglass. Additionally, front doors with inlaid glass can also give your entryway more natural light for the interior of your home.”

Modernize the lighting.

First, make sure all interior lights have the same color temperature so it’s consistent throughout the home. “Updating your light fixtures, ceiling fans, and even your hardware on doors and cabinets is an easy and cost-effective way of increasing the perceived value of your home,” Redfin notes. For example, replace dated brass light fixtures to more contemporary ones, like lights with a black finish. Find fixtures that will add more light and brighten your home too.

Upgrade your mailbox.

It may sound trivial, but the look of the mailbox is all part of helping to build a strong first impression from the curb. “It’s also the easiest home improvement you can do,” Redfin notes at its blog. “It could just be a new mailbox that replaces the old, weathered one you’ve had for years. … Or you could upgrade to a ‘next generation’ mailbox that allows USPS to deliver large packages to your mailbox instead of your front door.”

Source:

October 8, 2019

Homeowners seem to have a love-hate relationship with their homeowners associations. They appreciate those that mow the lawn, manage neighborly disputes, offer amenities, and organize social events, but they don’t agree with all their rules.

The number of Americans living in a community association has grown over the last 50 years from 10,000 communities in the 1970s to more than 300,000 as of 2016, Porch.com reports. (Those figures also include condo and co-operative communities.)

The most received HOA fines to homeowners were for improper landscaping and trash being put out too late or early, according to a survey by Porch.com, a home remodeling resource. Porch.com surveyed more than 700 people who live in  HOA communities.

Fifty-two percent of homeowners say they have not paid an HOA fine. Millennials were the most likely to skip out on paying a fine at 54%, followed by Generation X at 53%. Zero percent of the baby boomers surveyed say they did not pay an HOA fine they received.

Twenty-nine percent of homeowners say they have knowingly broken an HOA rule (the age groups were fairly matched in breaking the rules). Nearly one-third said they had broken one of their association’s rules and hoped they would never get caught.

Porch.com HOA rules chart.Visit source link at the end of this article for more information.

© Porch.com

Source:
Hidden HOA Sentiments,” Porch.com (October 2019)

The once-priciest property in the U.S., listed for $1 billion, has sold for a fraction of its original list price for $100,000 at a foreclosure auction this week. The $100,000 sale falls extremely short of the $200 million loan outstanding on the property, too.

“The Mountain” in Beverly Hills has long been known as one of the last prized undeveloped parcels of land in the Los Angeles area. At 157 acres, the mountaintop property is located at the highest point in the 90210 ZIP code.

But with a 99.99% markdown, the property sale comes with a lot of fine print, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The sole bid at the auction came from the Mark Hughes Trust, the estate of the late Herbalife founder, who previously owned the property. But in 2004, the Hughes estate sold the property to Atlanta investor Chip Dickens, which set off a complicated, intertwined story of how the property ended up at a foreclosure auction in the first place.

To purchase the property, Dickens borrowed about $45 million from the Hughes estate. The debt eventually surged to about $200 million, including interest and fees. Dickens then transferred ownership of the parcel to a limited liability company. That LLC was controlled by his partner on the project, Victor Franco Noval, who is the son of convicted felon Victorino Noval.

The LLC—Secured Capital Partners—failed to successfully declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. That has ultimately forced the Hughes estate to sell the property at a foreclosure auction to try to recoup the losses or buy the property back. By repurchasing it, they would lose the $200 million they were owed in the process, however.

Any other buyer who bid at the auction would have been on the hook to pay the $200 million outstanding debt. No one else did. So after 15 years, the parcel of property returned to the Hughes family.

“This is the largest non-judicial foreclosure sale and the largest loss from a lender I’ve seen in 27 years,” says Ronald Richards, the attorney for Secured Capital. Secured Capital did make a last-minute offer prior to the auction for $150 million, but Richards says their proposal was ignored. “My $150 million offer was legit, and now they have a catastrophic loss,” he says.

Source:
Once Listed for $1 Billion. Sold for $100,000. What Just Happened?” The Los Angeles Times (Aug. 20, 2019)