Tag Archives: real estate tips

Mortgage Fraud Warning

May 4, 2012

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Courtesy of RECO’s “For the RECOrd” magazine

 

RECO investigators are all too familiar with mortgage fraud and the turmoil it causes for the victims who are left fighting to get their homes back. Unfortunately, in most cases, RECO only becomes aware of the mortgage fraud after the fact when a homeowner realizes they have been victimized. But on one recent afternoon, a tip from a brokerage helped RECO stop a fraudster in his tracks and save a senior from heartache.

“It had many signs of a mortgage fraud including someone misrepresenting themselves as a registrant in order to create the illusion of a legitimate transaction,” says RECO’s Deputy Registrar, Bruce Matthews. “But in this instance, we realized that we had an opportunity to act quickly and prevent a fraud from happening.”

It all started when a legal assistant at the Toronto law firm representing the supposed seller noticed irregularities in the real estate transaction. She inquired with Sutton Group All Po Realty, the brokerage that supposedly represented the seller. But Gail Fulton and Doug Lytle, staff members of the brokerage, were shocked to find that they had no record of such a deal. The pair quickly recognized the seriousness of the matter and immediately contacted RECO.

Within a few hours, the urgency of the investigation became clear as RECO’s Manager of Inspections & Investigations, Brian Prendergast, determined that the transaction was fraudulent and put a face to the fraud’s victim: an elderly minister who had no idea that a fraudster was trying to sell his house without his knowledge.

“Naturally he was shocked and alarmed,” says Prendergast. “We realized that this kind man could have his life turned upside down if he was forced to go through the exhaustive process of rectifying the title to the home he had lived in for over 30 years. Knowing what was at stake left us even more determined to do everything we could.”

Fortunately, it was not too late. Prendergast worked with representatives from Service Ontario’s Policy and Regulatory Services Branch to determine that the Land Transfer Office had indeed received and processed an application to transfer the title of the house and to register a $600,000 mortgage against the property. But, crucially, they had not yet certified the transfer. Once RECO informed them of the fraud they halted the transfer process immediately.

With RECO’s help, the homeowner returned the title to his name. He can now rest easy knowing his home is safe.

“I was surprised and shocked, but even in that first call Brian said everything would be okay,” says the homeowner, who has asked to keep his identity private. “Just an hour and a half later he phoned again to say everything was straightened out.”

While RECO’s quick work played a key role in preventing the fraud, numerous individuals from the brokerage, law firm and Service Ontario also deserve kudos for the roles they played.

“We owe a great deal of thanks to these individuals,” says Matthews. “They paid attention to their instincts and reacted quickly, allowing us to protect this gentleman from fraud.”

This potential fraud has a happy ending, exemplifying one of the ways RECO fulfills its mission to uphold the integrity of real estate transactions.

While RECO’s efforts prevented the fraudsters from making off with over half a million dollars, they remain at large. York Regional Police continue to investigate.

Tips to Avoid Mortgage Fraud:

Avoid being an unwitting participant in mortgage fraud. Be suspicious of situations where you are:

  • Asked to inflate (overstate) your income on a mortgage application, indicate you plan to live in a property being purchased as a rental property or provide other false statements.
  • Asked to sign documents that contain blanks or asked not to complete certain sections of a form or document.
  • Offered a fee for the use of your name and credit information.
  • Discouraged from visiting the property, having the property appraised or inspecting the property you are purchasing.

IF IT SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT PROBABLY IS!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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5 Tips to Sell Your Home

April 27, 2012

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It’s a big decision to sell your house. Here are some easy tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible!

  1. Interview a few different agents before making a decision. Despite what you may think, we’re not all the same! We offer different services for different commission rates. Make sure you’re comfortable with the person you hire and know exactly what you’re getting for what you pay.
  2. Know your rights and obligations. There are so many contracts you have to sign from the listing agreement to the offer you accept. Have your REALTOR explain everything in detail before you sign anything, or have your lawyer go over it with you.
  3. Price it right. Base the price of your home on current market information instead of what you think it’s worth. Even if you put $20,000 into a renovation doesn’t necessarily mean you will get it back when you sell.
  4. Take your agent’s advice. If he or she suggests your home needs some TLC or de-cluttering, do it! It’s not an insult, we’re only trying to help. The better your home looks, the more money you’ll get in the end.
  5. Take the first offer seriously. It’s true what they say; it’s often the best one that comes across the table. Also consider that after your home has been on the market for 45 days (or whatever it has been) the market conditions may have changed from when you originally picked the price. Make sure your agent brings current comparables when you look at the offers.

These are just a few things you can do during the process of selling your home. Ask advice from your agent and other real estate professionals; they know what they’re doing!

Good luck!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Still a Seller’s Market in Barrie

April 13, 2012

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Not much has changed in a month! March residential sales are still up like they were in February, but there’s still a lack of inventory in our fair city. There is a lack of new listings on the market (361 this year compared to 381 in 2011), and demand remains high. Luckily for sellers, this means you get the most money for your home; the average selling price in Barrie is $293,050 going for 98% of asking price on average, up over $15,000 from this time last year.

As you may recall from a previous posting (“Barrie sales HOT in February“), the market will eventually balance out. If you’re considering selling this year, maybe moving during the summer so the kids can get readjusted, NOW is the time. The average days on the market are around 40, and closing is often scheduled for at least a month after the deal is done. If you think about the timing, you’ll be moving at the end of June if you put your house on the market today!

These local statistics paired with a recent RBC study indicating that “majority of Canadians believe that now is the time to get into the housing market (59 per cent, up four percentage points from last year), instead of waiting until next year (41 per cent)” are important things to keep in mind when thinking about selling. The same RBC study says that a “majority of Canadians believe housing is a good investment (88 per cent, up two percentage points from last year) and more than two-thirds (68 per cent) believe the value of their home has increased in the past two years”.

As always, ask the experts when making a big decision like moving. Make sure that it makes financial sense to you and your family. Good luck!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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5 Tips to Beautify Your Garden

March 30, 2012

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Due to some technical difficulties last week, this post never made it to its final stages. My apologies, and hopefully it was worth the wait!

We all know how important curb appeal is when selling a house. Sure, you can hire landscapers, or get your mom to come over! If you’re not a green thumb (probably because you never tried) like me, here are some great tips I got from our friends and neighbours at Bradford Greenhouses. Your garden doesn’t have to be complicated. Just enjoy it!

We have been incredibly lucky with record-breaking warm weather this month (except this past week…brrr). You may be getting the gardening bug, so keep reading to help you start your journey!

  1. Plant native plants. If you’re new at the gardening game, using plants that are native to our geographical area will help ensure a successful garden. Native plants are anything that you might find naturally, say if you went for a walk in the forest. Luckily, Bradford Greenhouses are local experts and they can guide you toward plants like honeysuckle which grows wonderfully here.
  2. Plant bulbs. Bulbs are very attractive to me…drop them in a hole in the ground, water, and wait. Not a lot of room for me to mess up! My favourite flowers are lilies, and they’re so easy to grow. Every bulb has different planting instructions, but maintenance is easy; keep the soil moist and add some fertilizer.
  3. Plant perennials. Some of us can never remember the difference between perennials and annuals. But the important thing to remember is that, because perennials come back year after year, the long-term maintenance is manageable. Plus they often bloom from April to October, so you get the biggest bang for your buck!
  4. Plan your design. It may seem unnecessary, however taking an hour or so to properly plan where everything will go will make all the difference in the world. The shape, the soil type, the sun or shade factor – these all play a part in the success of your garden. Plus, you want all the colours and plant height and size to make sense. And if you need help with this, the lovely people at Bradford Greenhouses can help you with a consultation.
  5. Maintain your lawn. With all this garden talk, you don’t want to ignore your grass. Especially if you’re considering selling your house (even next year!) this is an important factor to curb appeal. A potential buyer who sees a dead or weedy lawn will think a lot of work has to be done. Keep it watered and fertilized, and you will notice the difference.

Following these tips is a great way to start your Spring garden. Keep in mind our local weather and various soil types, and when you visit your local garden centre you should be in good shape.

Our friends at Bradford Greenhouses gave me some fun extras to share with you. Enjoy!

  • To prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails while you work in the garden, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap and you’ll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can’t collect beneath them. Then, after you’ve finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.
  • Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance apart (from just an inch to several feet) you’ll already have a measuring device in your hand.
  • To create perfectly natural markers, write the names of plants (using a permanent marker) on the flat faces of stones of various sizes and place them at or near the base of your plants.
  • The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain, use it to water potted patio plants, and you’ll be amazed at how the plants respond to the “vegetable soup.”
  • Always misplacing garden seeds, gloves, and your hand fork?  Try placing an old mailbox in your garden. With a new coat of paint, you have the perfect spot to place all those little things!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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Tips for Renovation Spending

February 17, 2012

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Homeowners hear so much about how renovating their homes will increase its value. This is certainly true to a point, but I have seen more times than I would like to say that people lose money after they renovate – especially if they’re renovating to sell.

It is common knowledge that kitchens and bathrooms sell, but does that mean you need to tile the bathroom in your 2-bedroom townhouse with Italian marble? Probably not. The only value this adds is to the homeowner. I recently saw a house for sale where the homeowners spent $18,000 on a solid mahogany door from Europe! You can bet they didn’t retrieve that cost.

Here are some easy tips to follow when you’re renovating:

  1. Over-expanding. Most people want to keep up with the neighbours, and sometimes surpass them. However, if you live in a community full of war-time bungalows, it’s probably best not to build a 3-storey stone mansion on your lot. It will be harder to sell when the time comes, and the value of your home will be negatively affected by those around you.
  2. Changing a room’s function. Homes are generally built to serve a specific purpose, and each room reflects that. If you decide to change a main floor bedroom into a dining room, you’re going to lose a bedroom and that decreases the value when the time comes to sell. This only works if you don’t change any structure and if you “stage” it properly when you put it on the market.
  3. Under-budgeting. This often happens with first-time renovators. You think it’ll only take a few thousand to redo the kitchen. Think again. Even if you think you’ve measured correctly and costed the products at your local hardware store, you should usually expect to go 20-30% over budget. Take into account what happens when you take the cabinets off the wall and rip the drywall…you’re going to have to replace that piece of drywall. And if you open the walls to do a bit of re-wiring, you never know what you’re going to find. It’s always a good idea to get a few professionals in to give you estimates. Save up your money instead of putting it on credit, too! It all adds up, and you may need your credit for the extras that eventually pop up.
  4. Doing unnecessary work. You’ve lived in your house for 3 or 4 years. Obviously, the things you see every day are the things that will annoy you the most. Keep in mind that you can make small alterations to those annoyances – paint your cabinets or install new hardware, install a bathtub insert instead of re-tiling. You get the idea. Statistically, the smaller the renovation, the better the return. Talk to a REALTOR before you renovate, even if you’re not selling that year! We can give you a pretty good idea of what makes sense for your near future.
  5. Maintenance neglect. As I just mentioned, fixing the things you see every day tends to be the first thing you do. It is SO important not to forget the “bones” of the house. I’m talking about the roof, windows, furnace, air conditioner, etc. They’re not glamorous, and you probably won’t notice much of an aesthetic difference. But these are the items in your home that will truly pay off in the end.

As with any big decisions you make in your life, take the time to consider all the options. Figure out what renovation would be the best value for you while you stay in your home, and for the future when you sell. Talk to as many professionals and you can, and get lots of information.

Good luck!

Laura

Laura Keller of Century 21 B.J. Roth Realty is a real estate agent with a business philosophy of nurturing relationships with her clients. She will walk you through the process of buying, selling, or investing step-by-step so there are no surprises at the end of your transaction.

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