Real Estate Tip of the Week: Digital Tools during COVID-19

These are uncertain times – but that doesn’t mean we can’t go through this together, virtually, of course.

As a real estate agent, you might be wondering how you can successfully continue your work with social distancing and shelter-in-place confirmed in your state. Luckily, real estate has been keeping up with technology – and there are plenty of tools for you to use and count on during this time.

Virtual House Tour & Open Houses

Just because you can no longer meet face-to-face with your client (or future clients) doesn’t mean they can’t see the house they’re interested in!

Think about using Facetime, Skype, or Zoom when presenting a home to your client. If you’re trying to interest a buyer, think about hosting a “Live Open House” on Instagram or Facebook live!

Alliance Title & Escrow Corp. Digital Tools

Net Sheet: Through Title Capture, you can access quotes on titles and fees all online.

Profilez on Demand or Agent Intel: Access to property profile information through our online account.

EMTransfer: Our cloud-based service that allows agents, lenders, and buyers, and earnest money holders to securely document, collect and disburse earnest money 100% electronically.

Plat Map & CCR Search

For up-to-date news and tips regarding COVID-19, check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

COVID-19: Remote Online Notarization Bill in Congress

With many agents wondering how they can successfully and swiftly close their transactions in the middle of COVID-19, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has sent a letter to congress urging lawmakers to include policy in coronavirus response legislation that would pave the way for remote notarizations.

This would help move transactions towards a 100% digital platform nationwide.

The Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020, also known as the SECURE Notarization Act, was introduced last Wednesday by a bipartisan coalition of senators.

Currently, only 23 states have remote online notarization policies – which permit a notary and a signer in different physical locations to safely execute electronic documents. However, some borrowers in these states are still unable to complete the transaction without an in-person notary.

The SECURE Notarization Act would create a safe, multifactor authentication that uses tamper-evident and two-way, real-time audiovisual technology to enable the signer and notary to see and hear each other simultaneously.

NAR Vice President, Vince Malta, explains, “As the nation and world grapple with some of the most difficult and uncertain circumstances of their lives, NAR continues working with the federal government to secure policy and promote public safety and protect this critical driver of our nation’s economy.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Generational Trends for Home-Buying Preferences

Yes, Millennials enjoy shopping through Amazon and making avocado toast – but it looks like they also enjoy the same housing preferences as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers.

According to the National Association of Realtors®’ (NAR) 2020 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report, most age groups were motivated to live near family and friends, with 53% pointing to this major factor when selecting a neighborhood.

Between Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers, newer homes were more enticing – most citing a newer home as the main reason for a purchase.

However, there are differences between the generations:

Those aged 22-29 stated that their main reason in purchasing a home was to own a home of their own (60%), whereas those aged 55-64 fell to 17%.

Younger buyers are also more concerned with their commute time – around 74% of buyers aged 22-29 selected “convenience to job” as a priority to buying a home. For older buyers, “quality of neighborhood” took precedence.

Check out NAR’s infographic below!

For more real estate news, check out Alliance’s Blog.

Got Homeowner Worries? Here Are the Top Concerns.

Becoming a homeowner has some amazing perks – equity being a top contender. However, it looks like homeowners still have their fair share of worries.

Once you are a homeowner, you’re now the one in charge, and the one to make decisions. So, what are some of the things homeowners are worrying about?

A recent survey from LendingTree summarized homeowners’ biggest housing worries for 2020. Check out their infographic below:

Nearly one-third of respondents claimed major home repairs as their top housing-related worry. With the 1% rule in mind (1% of the purchase price of your home set aside for your maintenance-saving piggy bank), homeowners might stress over the amount they should be putting away every year.

The next brackets of worry went to home values dropping (17%), and the possibility of mortgage payments increasing (13%).

Although there are underlying worries between all homeowners, 68% of those surveyed still believe that homeownership is a good investment.

Check out Alliance’s Blog for more real estate news!

Rental Properties Fur-Going Pet Restrictions

Have you had trouble finding a home or an apartment to rent, simply because your pet isn’t allowed to live there?

Well, it looks like things are changing – as landlords are seeing better profits if they open up their residence to being pet friendly.

Homes with kids under 18 years of age stands at 27% in America, while the share of homes with pets is at 68%. More likely, tenants are going to have a dog than they are to have a child. With that statistic in mind, more and more landlords are opening up their doors to allowing pets.

A study conducted by FIREPAW Inc., an animal welfare nonprofit research firm, showed that pet-friendly rentals increase investors’ profits AND show vacancy rates for rentals that allow pets tend to be lower than those that don’t.

 Landlords are also spending less than half as much money on advertising their pet-friendly properties.

But what about the likely damage caused by said pets?

The survey also found that the tenants with pets tended to cause less damage than tenants with children – even the worst damages caused by pets were cheaper than the average rent or the pet deposit.

Even potential homebuyers are looking for homes that are more pet-friendly – realtor.com®’s survey found that 87% of home buyers with pets say they take their pet’s needs into account when searching for a home.

Stop by Alliance Title’s Blog for more real estate news, tips, and guides!

First-Time Homebuyers Looking to Buy

What do you get when you mix low mortgage rates and first-time homebuyers? – Home sales.

According to REALTOR® Magazine, 32% of sales in January came from first-time homebuyers, which is up from 29% last year. First-time homeowners younger than 35 increased from 35.4% in early 2019 to 37.6% in late 2019, and existing home-sales are at 5.46 million for 2020.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of REALTORS®, explains, “The rise in the homeownership rate among younger adults under 35 and minority households means an increasing number of Americans can build wealth by owning real estate. Still, in order to further expand opportunities, significantly more inventory and home construction are needed at the affordable price points.”

While it has only been two months into 2020, real estate analysts are looking to builders to increase inventory to help first-time buyers and repeat buyers alike.

For more real estate news, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate News: Homeowners Save When Comparing Mortgages

While this may not be news to current homeowners – soon-to-be homeowners might not know that shopping around for a mortgage can save you quite the cash in the end.

According to LendingTree, purchasers could save an average of $125 a month, or about $1,500 a year, by shopping around – that could equal up to $44,500 saved over the life of the loan!

Interest rates are constantly changing, and with all the various loan options, it benefits the potential homeowner to shop around and see which opportunity best suits them and their future.

Not sure how to shop for a mortgage? Check out our mortgage shopping 101 guide!

LendingTree’s findings also broke down which cities borrowers were saving the most money:

  • San Francisco
  • Fresno
  • Los Angeles
  • Portland
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Las Vegas
  • Seattle
  • Boston
  • Minneapolis
  • Phoenix

Check out their infographic, here.

For more real estate news and guides, stop by Alliance Title’s Blog.

Love Is in the Air – and in Moving Boxes?

Ah, love. What wouldn’t you do for it?

Looks like one in five people would move for love – even move 500 miles or more for a relationship!

A survey from Bellhops, a professional moving company, analyzed nearly 2 million online conversations from June 2018 to March 2019 to find common themes in moving.

The top four reasons to move:

  • Location
  • Money
  • Love
  • Community

With Valentine’s Day in the air, we can’t help but be curious on the relationships that moved for love. Bellhops’ data shows that 60% of the people who moved for love or now either married or in a long-term relationship!

Looks like moving for love can be quite rewarding.

Take a look at Bellhops’ infographic below for more survey results on moving for love:

*Infographic provided by Bellhop

For more real estate news on love, finances, and tips, check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

What Can a Minor Change in Interest Rates Mean for Home Buyers?

The housing market has seen a significant drop in mortgage rates – which can be great help for soon-to-be buyers.

While low mortgage rates are fantastic, it’s important to understand how even the slightest change can alter someone’s ability to purchase.

The National Association of Home Builders recently offered various scenarios of the price differences in affordability with interest rates. Currently, the median new-home price is $345,908. The buyer would receive a standard mortgage interest rate of around 3.75% (as of the beginning of February 2020) – if this rate moves up even just a quarter of a percentage point, it prices about 1.3 million U.S. homes out of the market. This was also factored in with a 10% down payment.

The NAHB also showed this process in reverse – with the recent change in lower mortgage rates, 44 million households can afford the median-priced new home.

Check out The NAHB’s chart below to view differences that interest rate fluctuations can make:

For more real estate news, check out Alliance Title’s Blog.

Real Estate Tip of the Week: Avoiding Wire Fraud

In real estate, you’ve probably heard of the alarming act of wire fraud. While it is a very real thing – there are important steps that you can take to prevent this from happening to you and your transaction.

First: What is Wire Fraud?

One of the final stages of a home purchase includes the homebuyer wiring money for their closing – the homebuyer would receive a legitimate email from their attorney, title company, or mortgage company with details on how and where to wire the money.

Unfortunately, wire fraud involves a cybercriminal hacking into the email system with fraudulent wire-transfer instructions. Usually, it is only after the wire transfer has been completed, that anyone fully realizes that a crime has taken place.

According to the National Association of Realtors®, wire fraud is one of the fastest growing cybercrimes in the U.S – about 11,300 people were victims of wire fraud in real estate transactions in 2018, with losses over $150 million.

Second: What Can You Do?

Be wary of last-minute changes – homebuyers and sellers are eager to finalize the transaction, and the cybercriminal knows that. If you receive a notification just before closing the initiates a change in wire instructions, do not panic and send money. Here’s what to do instead:

  • Do not rely on an email, a text, or a letter – even if it looks legitimate. Confirm wire instructions verbally, or in person. This might mean calling up your attorney, title company, or real estate agent.
  • When calling to confirm, be sure to use the numbers you received and verified at the beginning of the loan process. Do not try and call the number listed on this new email, text, or letter with an updated wire instruction change.
  • Do not click on any link within the email that you find suspicious.
  • Ask your bank to confirm the name on the receiving account before sending a wire.
  • After confirming your wire instructions are legitimate, verify with your title company that they’ve received your wire 4 hours after the transfer

For more information on how you can prevent wire fraud, check out the NAR’s tips here.

Alliance Title & Escrow believes in preventing wire fraud – call your local office to find out more on what we’re doing to combat wire fraud.

As always – for more real estate tips, be sure to check out Alliance’s Blog.