Resources to Prevent Elder Fraud

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Thank you to Lisa Gonzalez of for providing these important and useful resources about elder fraud:

I’m sure you’ve seen the latest news story about the Equifax breach*. The fact that half the country is at risk is quite sobering, and it doesn’t help that it will take some time to see how all of this plays out.

In the meantime, we must do what we can to help senior loved ones stay on point with their credit and avoid becoming victims of fraud and identity theft. Seniors are highly susceptible to financial scams, so giving them the tools to protect themselves can save a lot of heartbreak and trouble.

Because protecting our senior friends and loved ones is so important, I’ve put together a list of resources that I thought might interest you and your readers. I hope you will consider sharing them.

5 Easy Steps to Help Avoid Fraud and Identity Theft

Addiction-Related Fraud: Spotting the Signs and Successfully Confronting Your Loved One

Preventing Caregiver Theft

Preventing Home Improvement Fraud

7 Steps to Take if You’re a Victim of Identity Theft

How to Protect Yourself from the Three Biggest Types of Homebuyer Fraud

In the meantime, I hope you don’t have to endure any issues as part of this unfortunate information breach.

Predictive Analytics vs. Human Touch – Which is Best for Building Your Business

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The best way to generate leads has always been a hot topic in real estate – real estate after all is purely a sales industry which relies on consumer reach. Lately, though, there has been a large shift in focus on utilizing technology to identify and target the “perfect” consumer, someone who is likely to buy or sell within the next 90 days. The tools which promise to provide this information can be costly and time consuming, and so raises the question “Are predictive analytic tools a better source of leads?”

You may be wondering, “What is predictive analytics anyway?” Deborah Kearns of RISMedia Housecall defines “predictive analytics is a way to forecast future trends and results by analyzing historical data with statistical algorithms and machine learning methodologies.” To put this more simply, some tech savvy person comes up with a formula which can interpret a vast amount of data to tell you about likely scenarios.  Real estate agents are drawn to this type of tool because it not only helps them demonstrate their market knowledge, but also helps to target people who are the most interested to know more.

Now let’s contrast this new, targeted method with classic face-to-face farming. Brokers consistently coach new agents to reach out to their sphere of influence to build their pipeline, but it’s a part of the business that seasoned agents often neglect. Chrystal Caruthers of tells us that “Agents who work their sphere do not suffer the peaks and valleys of under-performing agents because they are constantly filling their pipeline with people who might one day become clients.” Personal relationships also provide the highest return on investment as far as lead generation activities go.

“It takes 7-8x more time, energy, and money to get new clients, than it does to get more business or referrals from your current clients. 82% of all customers say they would work with their agent again, but only 12% actually do,” explains Trey Willard, contributor to Blog.

We are all victims of staring at a screen in one form or another for hours a day, yet many of us will agree that our most meaningful interactions come from our personal (live) connections. Why wouldn’t this feeling also apply to sales?

The value of talking to prospects in person or over the phone has become blurred in the modern age of technology. The resounding theme that is presenting itself seems to be:  though technology is filling some holes in the real estate industry, technology can never replace the touch of a salesperson.

Christina Ethridge, founder of puts it simply,

“You spent time, energy and money generating the lead, now nurture it. The thing is, when you are nurturing leads, you are also, in a top secret way, lead generating. Think about it. You are nurturing a lead. They aren’t ready. Their friends are. They recommend you.”

Mastering technology and tools that support an agent’s business, while important, should not be the sole focus of one looking to dominate in real estate. There should be a balance between lead generation techniques, using both predictive tools to help target the right leads and personal interactions to help nurture those relationships. Then, while generation is a starting point, one must devote ample time to relationship building too.

To ensure you’re making the most out of your lead generating & nurturing efforts, make an appointment with your Sales Representative from Western Resources Title. Our Reps can show you a variety of tools which are helping clients target those “perfect” leads as well as nurture the relationship.

Check Out The NEW Prelim Report Review!

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Western Resources Title is pleased to announce our NEW Preliminary Title Report Review!

Preliminary title reports can be confusing and it may be hard to identify those items that are critical to a successful closing!  To help simplify the process we now include a Preliminary Title Report Review with the Preliminary Title Report on resale transactions. The report clearly identifies any items that will affect the closing of the transaction and details exactly what is needed to resolve the issue.

Of course your title officer is still available to provide additional guidance when necessary.  Just one more way we help you work smarter not harder!

Click here to see a sample of the new Preliminary Title Report Review

Are you ready to buy?

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Buying a home for the first time can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Among all the resources and advice available there needs to be a starting point for preparing yourself for this life changing decision. Here are the first 5 steps you should start with before you even start looking for your dream home:

1.  Understand the full cost of homeownership
As a renter, a single rental fee covers your monthly housing payment. But as a homeowner, four main factors go into your monthly housing payment: principal, interest, taxes and insurance (P.I.T.I.). Understanding these costs will help you determine how much house you can afford.

Together, principal and interest comprise your monthly mortgage payment, with the principal paying down your loan balance each month, and the interest paying your fee for borrowing the money. Use a mortgage calculator to determine how much of your payment goes toward principal versus interest each month.

Taxes refer to property taxes, which are assessed by the county you live in. They average 1.2 percent of your home’s value each year.

Insurance — paid to a homeowner’s insurance company of your choice — is required when you have a mortgage. Lenders require that your insurance cover the cost of rebuilding the home if it is ruined by fire or other disaster. This “replacement cost” is determined by your insurer, and must be agreed to by your lender. Insurance will typically cost $700 to $1,200 per year for a single family home.

For condo owners, there’s a fifth monthly cost category: homeowners association (HOA) dues. These fees cover common area amenities, landscaping, ongoing upkeep and reserves for future maintenance like roof replacement or exterior painting. These monthly dues range from $100 for cheaper condos to $1,000 or more for luxury condos.

Single family home buyers can take a useful cue from HOA budgets, which generally require that at least 10 percent of dues go toward reserves. Even if you’re not buying a condo, it’s a good idea to set up a similar savings plan for future maintenance like replacing a roof or major appliances.

2. Know your homeowner tax benefits
Mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible when you file your annual tax returns, and reduce taxable income.

These deductions significantly lower your cost of homeownership. For example, for a $300,000 home with 20 percent down and a 30-year fixed mortgage at 4 percent, monthly P.I.T.I. is about $1,545. Tax deductions reduce this total housing cost to about $1,215.

3. Study rent-vs.-buy math
Often, people judge the cost of renting vs. buying by comparing P.I.T.I. to a rental payment. But to get an apples-to-apples comparison, you actually have to look at after-tax-benefit homeownership costs and rent costs.

Using the example above of a $300,000 home that costs $1,215 per month after taxes, you could compare this residence to a home that rents for about $1,200. If the $300,000 home was more spacious or in a more desirable area, the math would seem to favor buying — but don’t forget this example requires a $60,000 down payment.

4. Identify mortgages that fit your budget and timeline
If you don’t have 20 percent to put down, you can still get a mortgage with as little as 3 percent down. However, if your down payment is less than 20 percent, you’ll have to pay mortgage insurance, which is about .85 percent of your loan amount, and isn’t tax deductible.

Your monthly P.I.T.I. (which includes mortgage insurance) is about $1,995 on a $300,000 home with 3 percent down and a 30-year fixed mortgage at 4 percent. After tax deductions, this total housing cost drops to about $1,614. And you’d only need $9,000 for the down payment.

You can also lower your rate and P.I.T.I. with a shorter-term loan like a 5-year ARM, but rates on these loans will adjust in 5 years, so you risk having a much higher payment if you plan to stay in the home longer than that.

5. Start preparing your credit score now
Credit scores are critical for getting the best mortgages with the lowest rates. Lenders want reliable on-time payment history as well as credit depth.

More credit accounts are better, so renters with only one credit card should consider obtaining more credit. Just note that your credit score can drop 5 to 15 points when you first open a new account, then will come back up when you’ve established a good payment history.

Here’s a link to read the article directly on Zillow.

Buying a Home? Watch out for these scams

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We’re all aware of email hacks and the recent increase in fraud, but did you know that a real estate transaction can make you a more likely target?  Here is a great article posted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on how you can be on the lookout for these scammers:

Summer is a busy homebuying season. If you’re in the market for a new home this year, watch out for email phishing scams. According to reports, the scams target homebuyers who are nearing the closing date on their mortgage loan. The scammers attempt to steal the homebuyer’s closing funds—for example, their down payment and closing costs—by sending the homebuyer an email posing as the homebuyer’s real estate agent or settlement agent (title company, escrow officer, or attorney). The email falsely claims there has been a last minute change in the closing process, for example, that a check is no longer acceptable or that the wiring instructions have changed. It instructs the homebuyer to wire or otherwise electronically transmit the closing funds to an account that the scammers control. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned homebuyers of this scam in blogs in March 2016 and June 2017 .

We encourage consumers to exercise vigilance and caution to proactively guard against these scams. Below are some tips, including tips from the FTC, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN ), and the FBI , to help you protect yourself against these types of phishing scams and take action if you are a victim.

Avoid email phishing scams

Phishing is when internet fraudsters impersonate a business to trick you into giving out your personal information. These tips may help homebuyers avoid this type of scam:

  • Discuss the closing process and money transfer protocols with your real estate or settlement agent.
  • If you receive an email requesting that you send money in connection with closing, even if it’s from a familiar source, STOP. Call your real estate or settlement agent to discuss. Don’t use phone numbers or links in the email.
  • Don’t email financial information. Email is not a secure way to send financial information.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
  • Before sending any wire transfer, ask your bank for help identifying any red flags in the wiring instructions. Red flags include potential discrepancies between the account name and the name of the intended beneficiary (i.e., your real estate or settlement agent). Your bank may also be able to compare the receiving account number to account numbers identified in past consumer complaints as the destination of fraudulent transactions.
  • Confirm receipt of the wire transfer by your real estate or settlement agent a few hours after the wire was transmitted. If you or another entity involved in the closing suspect a problem, report it to law enforcement and your bank as soon as possible to increase your likelihood of recovering the money.

What to do if you are a victim

  • Contact your bank or the money transfer company immediately upon discovering that funds have been transferred to the wrong account. Ask the bank or money transfer company to attempt a wire recall.
  • Contact your local FBI and state Attorney General office .
  • File a complaint, regardless of the dollar amount, with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at . Part of the mission of ic3 is to provide the public with a reliable and convenient reporting mechanism to submit information to the FBI concerning suspected Internet-facilitated criminal activity. Information is analyzed and used for investigative and intelligence law enforcement purposes and for public awareness.
  • Report the phishing scam to the FTC .

The FTC and the FBI have more information on protecting yourself from phishing scams and what to do if you are a victim.

Western Resources Title is dedicated to securing your personal information to ensure you have a safe and timely transaction. for more information on how we can provide you exceptional service, please contact your Sales Representative.

Click here to read the article on

Is it time for a price reduction?

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People may be telling you “it’s a seller’s market” right now which initially gave you confidence that your home would sell quickly and higher than comparable sales, but the offers aren’t coming in as you expected.  This could be for reasons beyond your control such as a unique home layout or being on the corner of a busy street; however, there is one factor you can control – your home price.

Here are 6 scenarios that may indicate it’s time for a price reduction:

1. You’re drawing few lookers.

You get the most interest in your home right after you put it on the market because buyers want to catch a great new home before anybody else takes it. If your real estate agent reports there have been fewer buyers calling about and asking to tour your home than there have been for other homes in your area, that may be a sign buyers think it’s overpriced and are waiting for the price to fall before viewing it.

2. You’re drawing lots of lookers but have no offers.

If you’ve had 30 sets of potential buyers come through your home and not a single one has made an offer, something is off. What are other agents telling your agent about your home? An overly high price may be discouraging buyers from making an offer.

3. Your home’s been on the market longer than similar homes.

Ask your real estate agent about the average number of days it takes to sell a home in your market. If the answer is 30 and you’re pushing 45, your price may be affecting buyer interest. When a home sits on the market, buyers can begin to wonder if there’s something wrong with it, which can delay a sale even further. At least consider lowering your asking price.

4. You have a deadline.

If you’ve got to sell soon because of a job transfer or you’ve already purchased another home, it may be necessary to generate buyer interest by dropping your price so your home is a little lower priced than comparable homes in your area. Remember: It’s not how much money you need that determines the sale price of your home, it’s how much money a buyer is willing to spend.

5. You can’t make upgrades.

Maybe you’re plum out of cash and don’t have the funds to put fresh paint on the walls, clean the carpets, and add curb appeal. But the feedback your agent is reporting from buyers is that your home isn’t as well-appointed as similarly priced homes. When your home has been on the market longer than comparable homes in better condition, it’s time to accept that buyers expect to pay less for a home that doesn’t show as well as others.

6. The competition has changed.

If weeks go by with no offers, continue to check out the competition. What have comparable homes sold for and what’s still on the market? What new listings have been added since you listed your home for sale? If comparable home sales or new listings show your price is too steep, consider a price reduction.

As always, it’s best to discuss your questions and concerns with your real estate agent.

This article was written by G.M. Filisko for To read the article on, click here

An Open House Timeline

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An open house is an important step to attracting prospective buyers.  There’s nothing more exciting for home buyers than seeing their dream house in person and being able to picture how they’ll make it a home.  With all the paperwork and stress that goes into selling your home, you might be lost on how to prepare for the open house.  Here is a helpful open house timeline by Dona Dezube at

“Open House Timeline: Countdown to a Successful Sale

An inviting open house can put your home on buyers’ short lists.

Get ready for your open house — stress-free — by starting early and breaking down your to-do list into manageable chunks. Use this timeline of 35 tips and your house will stand out from the competition on open house day.

Four Weeks Before the Open House

  • Ask your parents to babysit the kids the weekend of the open house. Then book a reservation for your pet with the dog sitter or at the kennel. Having everyone out of the house on the day of will help you keep your home tidy and smelling fresh. Plus, no dogs and no kids equal more time for last-minute prep.
  • Line up a contractor to take care of maintenance issues your real estate agent has asked you to fix, like leaking faucets, sagging gutters, or dings in the walls.
  • De-clutter every room (even if you already de-cluttered once before). Don’t hide your stuff in the closet—buyers will open doors to size up closet space. Store your off-season clothes, sports equipment, and toys somewhere else.
  • Book carpet cleaners for a few days before the open house and a house cleaning service for the day before. Otherwise, make sure to leave time to do these things yourself a couple of days before.

Three Weeks Before the Open House

  • Buy fluffy white towels to create a spa-like feel in the bathrooms.
  • Buy a front door mat to give a good first impression.
  • Designate a shoebox for each bathroom to stow away personal items the day of the open house.

Two Weeks Before the Open House

  • Clean the light fixtures, ceiling fans, light switches, and around door knobs. A spic-and-span house makes buyers feel like they can move right in.
  • Power-wash the house, deck, sidewalk, and driveway.

One Week Before the Open House

  • Make sure potential buyers can get up close and personal with your furnace, air-conditioning unit, and appliances. They’ll want to read any maintenance and manufacturer’s stickers to see how old everything is.
  • Clean the inside of appliances and de-clutter kitchen cabinets and drawers and the pantry. Buyers will open cabinet doors and drawers. If yours are stuffed to the gills, buyers will think your kitchen lacks enough storage space.
  • Put out the new door mat to break it in. It’ll look nice, but not too obviously new for the open house.

Week of the Open House

  • Buy ready-made cookie dough and disposable aluminum cookie sheets so you don’t have to take time for clean up after baking (you can recycle the pans after use). Nothing says “home” like the smell of freshly baked cookies.
  • Buy a bag of apples or lemons to display in a pretty bowl.
  • Let your real estate agent know if you’re running low on sales brochures explaining the features of your house.
  • Clean the windows to let in the most light possible.
  • Mow the lawn two days before the open house. Mowing the morning of the open house can peeve house hunters with allergies.

Day Before the Open House

  • Make sure your real estate agent puts up plenty of open-house signs pointing in the right direction and located where drivers will see them. If she can’t get to it on the Friday before a Sunday open house, offer to do it yourself.
  • Put away yard clutter like hoses, toys, or pet water bowls.
  • Lay fresh logs in the fireplace.

Day of the Open House

  • Put checkbooks, kids’ piggybanks, jewelry, prescription drugs, bank statements, and other valuables in the trunk of your car, at a neighbor’s house, or in your safe. It’s rare, but thefts do happen at open houses.
  • Set the dining room table for a special-occasion dinner. In the backyard, uncover the barbeque and set the patio table for a picnic to show buyers how elegantly and simply they can entertain once they move in.
  • Check any play equipment for spider webs or insect invasions. A kid screaming about spiders won’t endear buyers to your home.
  • Clean the fingerprints off the storm door. First impressions count.
  • Put up Post-It notes around the house to highlight great features like tilt-in windows or a recently updated appliance.
  • Remove shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, and other personal items from the bathtub, shower, and sinks in all the bathrooms. Store them in a shoebox under the sink. Removing personal items makes it easier for buyers to see themselves living in your house.
  • Stow away all kitchen countertop appliances.

One Hour Before the Open House

  • Bake the ready-to-bake cookies you bought earlier this week. Put them on a nice platter for your open house guests to eat with a note that says: “Help yourself!”
  • Hang the new towels in the bathrooms.
  • Put your bowl of apples or lemons on the kitchen table or bar counter.
  • Pick up and put away any throw rugs, like the bath mats. They’re a trip hazard.

15 Minutes Before the Open House

  • Open all the curtains and blinds and turn on the lights in the house. Buyers like bright homes.
  • Light fireplace logs (if it’s winter).
  • Didn’t get those cookies baked? Brew a pot of coffee to make the house smell inviting.

During the Open House

Get out of the house and let the REALTOR® sell it! Potential buyers will be uncomfortable discussing your home if you’re loitering during the open house. Take advantage of your child- and pet-free hours by treating yourself to something you enjoy — a few extra hours at the gym, a trip to the bookstore, or a manicure.”

You can also click here to view the article on

PACE Loans and What You Need to Know

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As energy efficiency and environmental upgrades gain popularity, it’s important to know possible effects loans on these improvements can have on the taxes, sale, or refinance of your home.  Below is an article from the California Land Title Association (CLTA) which gives clear examples and explanations of what you should look for and know.  You can also click here to read the article directly from their site.

A Growing Green Debt?

What You Need to Know About PACE Loans Before Going Solar.

February 23, 2016 | Steven Yoder

As PACE takes off, realtors warn that unwary homeowners are complicating their finances

Call it the tale of two turfs. In summer 2014, 27-year-old Benjamin Triffo wanted to do something about his dry, unattractive yard. He owns a four-bedroom, four-bath duplex in Elk Grove that he’d bought in 2011, and his sprinkler lines were broken. But with the state passing rules last July that would allow fines for overwatering, Triffo quickly figured out that replacing his system and re-sodding would be like attaching a drain line to his checkbook.

So, he hired a contractor to rip up the front yard and install artificial turf. He also took out his backyard and replaced it with a concrete patio and more sidewalks. Now, instead of a lawn with huge bare patches, he’s got a luscious green carpet and a great barbecue area — and he’ll never have to choose between a brown lawn and a fine.

The project cost $23,000. But he paid nothing up front, instead taking out a loan through a Property-Assessed Clean Energy program with a 20-year repayment plan. “It turned out great — I get compliments on it left and right,” he says of his new landscape.

Triffo went into the deal knowing the implications if he wants to resell: His PACE loan attaches to the property as a lien. If a new buyer doesn’t want to assume the payments, he plans to either lower his selling price or take out equity he’s accrued in the house to pay it off.

But not everyone with a PACE loan knows how it works. Last September, Erin Stumpf of Dunnigan Realtors met with a homeowner in Sacramento’s Tallac Village neighborhood. The owner wanted to sell, and she’d replaced her yard with artificial turf, taking out a $7,000 PACE loan to do it. “Oh, but don’t worry,” the homeowner told Stumpf. “The PACE loan will be transferred to the new owner.”

Stumpf had to explain that wasn’t true. The prospective buyer likely wouldn’t be able to get a mortgage because of the PACE loan  — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which guarantee 90 percent of the country’s home loans, won’t do so for properties with a PACE lien. The seller fortunately had enough home equity and used it to pay off her turf at the time of the sale. Because she cleared her loan early, she was also hit with a prepayment penalty of at least $800, Stumpf says. “The way this was sold to my client and the way that it’s sold to the public in general is really misleading,” Stumpf says.

California has sprinted to a huge lead in residential solar installations compared with other states, and PACE is one reason why. It offers 100-percent financing to homeowners who install energy-and water-saving upgrades like solar panels, better insulation and energy-efficient roofs. It also lets owners pay off those loans through their property taxes. Yet, consumers should know that PACE loans are also first-priority liens on a property. In a foreclosure sale, the PACE loan gets paid first, even before a mortgage lender.

Realtors around the state are warning that these loans may gum up future home sales. PACE programs say they’re adapting to address those concerns, and research suggests the real estate industry might better market green improvements.

Picking up the PACE

The number of homeowners taking out these loans has soared in the last year. Statewide, the number of green upgrades financed through PACE increased from about 7,000 in the July–December 2014 period to almost 13,000 in the January–June 2015 stretch. The PACE program run by Placer County, called mPower, saw the amount of financing it provided per month jump almost 40 percent from 2014 to 2015, based on comparable 10-month periods.

Program supporters say it boosts both homeowners and localities. “If a local government wants to do something on a climate action plan, they have limited options. PACE gives them a way to reduce emissions by making homes more efficient,” says Ellen Qualls of Renovate America, which operates Home Energy Renovation Opportunity, a PACE program in Sacramento County and the state’s largest PACE loan provider.

Lower energy costs also mean less pollution. The mPower program alone has saved 2,570 tons of carbon since starting in 2010. That’s the equivalent of taking almost 500 cars off the road annually, according to program data.

‘Free Money’

Some programs, however, may be covering up the potential risks in their descriptions of PACE. A video on the website of Ygrene Energy Fund, one of two private companies that offer PACE financing in Sacramento, gives this explanation: “If you sell your property, the payments transfer to the new owners just like your property tax, so you only pay for what you use.” But that’s only true if the new buyer agrees to take on the PACE payments and doesn’t need a home loan.

Ygrene does require PACE borrowers to sign a disclosure agreement later in the process. That document warns owners that they might have to pay off their PACE loan when they sell or refinance, according to an October 2014 report by the California Center for Sustainable Energy. Ygrene itself did not respond to requests for comment on how that disclosure document is discussed with customers.

For its part, mPower requires all borrowers and their contractors to attend a one-hour seminar that educates them on how the program works, including the impact on selling and refinancing. And the HERO program’s website is careful in its language, noting that “some lenders and/or buyers require the outstanding assessment balance to be paid off when a homeowner refinances or sells a home.”

But Stumpf worries about something else — that the “no money down” component of the program encourages contractors to overprice their bids. A contractor who recently approached her and her husband to discuss a PACE loan for a new roof on their own house described the program as “free money.” His bid came in at $20,000, almost double what they ended up paying through a non-PACE contractor.

Even Triffo says his own PACE contractor tried to upsell him, initially bidding $60,000 to do the job plus replace his driveway. Triffo told the contractor he didn’t need a driveway, and it took several rounds of negotiation to get down to the $23,000 to which Triffo committed. Triffo says it was “a little weird” to have the contractor know what size PACE loan he’d qualified for, which he thinks created an incentive for the contractor to bid high.

Concerns about PACE have become important enough among realtors that the California Association of Realtors’ legal Q&A for its members now includes a section warning that PACE loans could complicate home sales. “It’s a hot issue,” says Stumpf.

Could the Real Estate Industry Do More to Market Green Upgrades?

It’s not clear how widespread the problems are that the realtors cite. Qualls says Renovate America’s data so far show that fewer than 2 percent of homeowners nationwide have been caught in situations in which they had to repay their PACE loans because they wanted to resell or refinance.

The company is also taking steps to allay the concerns of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by subordinating its HERO liens for customers who decide they want to sell or refinance. That means if there’s a foreclosure, Renovate America would waive its right to use the proceeds of any sale to pay the HERO lien first — the key reason that Fannie and Freddie cite for not backing loans on properties with PACE loans.

More generally, green energy proponents contend that the real estate industry could better market energy upgrades. They cite a November 2015 white paper from the U.S. Department of Energy concluding that improvements like better insulation don’t show up in real estate transactions — in part because home buyers, realtors and appraisers don’t ask about them. And the report notes that few appraisers are qualified to assess green improvements, so appraisals often simply reflect comparable houses that don’t have the upgrades.

All of that could have big implications for the riskiness of a PACE loan. A solar system built with PACE money isn’t just an ongoing payment — program proponents say it’s also an ongoing benefit whose value increases as energy costs rise. If it’s properly marketed, buyers will be more willing to take over the payments or offer a bid on the house that better reflects upgrades, they say.

Beyond PACE

PACE or no, it’s always up to homeowners to dig for details when investing in green technology. It’s not just getting competing bids from contractors — they also should look at the range of options for financing green improvements.

SMUD, for example, offers loans of up to $30,000 to qualified homeowners for a range of energy upgrades — things like duct sealing, new HVAC systems and new windows. Depending on the type of improvement, those may function like PACE loans, taking a superior lien position on the property, says Van Mattison, who manages SMUD’s financing programs.

For some systems, especially solar, leasing is an option. Though, like PACE loans, those can complicate sales since lease payments have to be assumed by a new owner. Traditional home-equity loans can also finance green investments, though those carry the disadvantages of adjustable rates and prepayment penalties, says Mattison. Perhaps at the bottom of the list are personal loans, which have higher interest rates, he says.

Should energy prices rise, more homeowners will consider those options for greening their houses. If that happens, the owner who bought a high-efficiency central air system and sealed the ducts in her home will do more than just feel cooler — she’ll also look cooler and can ask for a premium when it’s time to sell.

Fed increases rates – how buyers are affected

By | DQ News Articles, DSNews, Foreclosure, Property Taxes, Real Estate Laws, Real Estate Sales, Short Sales, Title Insurance | No Comments

It was just announced this week that on Wednesday, March 15th the Fed decided to raise rates again by a quarter percentage point.  This is significant news because rates have been held at all time lows over the past decade to compensate for the previous economic downturn.  It is only since December of 2015 that the Fed has slowly began to increase rates, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon.  Experts anticipate at least 2 more increases in this year alone.  Not to panic, though; the Chairman of the Fed, Janet Yellen says this is in line with the current strengthening economy.

So what does this mean for those who are in the housing hunt, or even those who were thinking about buying a home?  In an article by, they explain “mortgage rates aren’t the same as short-term interest rates, which the Fed determines, but they tend to keep a parallel relationship and even anticipate the Fed’s actions. So the Fed’s actions can still have a big impact on the housing market.” Buyers may find that the price of their dream home seems even steeper when looking at the anticipated monthly mortgage payments.  It will take discussions with a Mortgage Lender to see what options are available, and what decision is best for the Buyer in this market.  Some may decide on an adjustable rate mortgage to keep costs low and look into refinancing at a later point, while others may decide to look at homes in a lower price-point which were overlooked before.

As always, we recommend anyone considering buying a home to contact the real estate professionals qualified to advise them in this important life decision.  Your Real Estate Agent and Lender can guide you and help ensure your goals are achievable.

Below is a chart from the Wall Street Journal which depicts the rate changes in recent years.

For more information, you can click here to read the article from



The 10 Cleanest (and Dirtiest) Cities in the U.S.

By | DSNews, Foreclosure, Real Estate Laws, Real Estate Sales, Short Sales, Title Insurance | No Comments

Okay so we all know that Los Angeles has some of the worst air quality in the nation, but it seems like we’re making some progress.  Just looking at this picture comparison of LA from 1956 to 2017 you can see the improvement.  

In an article by, they ranked U.S. cities pollution based on the following factors:

  • Toxic chemicals released from factories
  • Greenhouse gas emissions per square mile
  • Number of Superfund sites per square mile
  • Air quality by number of clear days per year
  • Water quality by contaminants such as lead, copper, arsenic, nitrate, and more

Interestingly, there was a trend shown by these comparisons where the cleanest cities were near agricultural communities with natural reserves/forests close by, and the most polluted were in the areas previously known as “industrial hubs in the Rust Belt and along the Gulf of Mexico.”

Here are some quick images to show where the top and bottom fall on the map:


Read the full article from here to understand more about what contributes to these rankings and what we can do to improve it.