Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Holiday Shopping Scam

Holiday Shopping Scam at a Supermarket Near You!
by John Occhi, Hemet REALTOR

It seems every holiday there are new products for sale - things that we would have never thought possible just ten years ago. I remember I was on the cutting edge of e-commerce in 1999 - 2001 when I was promoting custom gift cards for small businesses as well as e-commerce enabled websites. It's amazing how skeptical people were.

Is there a reason to be skeptical of new technologies. I suppose. My theory has always been to embrace the new and replace the old. Unfortunately, with the new, it feeds the element of human nature that preys on others, to create new innovative ways of doing this.

Fast Forward - Christmas 2006. Every supermarket I have been to in the last several months have a kiosk with gift cards for 20, 30, 40 or even 50 or more different retail stores. No longer do you have to go to Best-Buy, to buy a Best-Buy gift card. Today, you can do all of your holiday shopping, while getting ready to cook the holiday meal.

Now how easy is that?

So here is the scam. The low-life's copy down the card information while they are being displayed on the rack. This includes a card number and the toll free customer service phone number. In some cases, there is even a website.

So now the con artist waits a few days (checking back as often as needed) until the card has been "activated" and their is a balance on the card.

BINGO! It's time to go shopping on line.

An Ounce of Prevention...Worth a Pound of Cure

So, the best way to avoid this scam altogether is to ONLY purchase your gift cards from a customer service rep, where the cards have been safely stored behind the counter and not accessible to the public.

Please be careful. Pass this on to your friends and loved ones.

Wells Fargo Hopes to Cash in on Risky Borrowers

REALTOR Magazine Online
Wells Fargo Hopes to Cash in on Risky Borrowers
Daily Real Estate News December 5, 2006
Source: Los Angeles Times, E. Scott Reckard

Here is another greal little article from the REALTOR Magazine Online, that I receive daily. In this article, Wells Fargo announces a new program that will help educate high risk borrowers, known as "Sub-Prime" in the industry. This can be very good for the Hemet Real Estate market if more borrowers are aware of what they are getting themselves into and how to manage theier affairs, once they have bought a new Hemet home.
- John Occhi, Hemet Realtor

Despite the trend toward rising delinquencies, Wells Fargo & Co. is increasing its lending to risky borrowers in the hopes of making money on additional services like checking accounts and credit cards.

In a strategy it plans to announce today, the banking giant says it will automatically enroll these borrowers in a financial education program that will include free consultations in English or Spanish with specialists who can help them create financial plans and try to clean up their credit. This program will encourage auto-pay, which requires having a checking account.

The program, dubbed Steps to Success, will help address advocacy groups' previous allegations of predatory lending at Wells' sub-prime lending subsidiary, Wells Fargo Financial.

It's the most comprehensive program of its type ever offered to borrowers in the sub-prime market, says Stephanie Christie, a senior vice president at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

Monday, December 04, 2006

How to Get a Fair Deal on Title Insurance

Daily Real Estate News December 4, 2006
How to Get a Fair Deal on Title Insurance
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Michael Sorkin

Here is a short article that I found in the 'REALTOR Magazine - Daily News' this morning. I thought it was helpful for consumers in the Hemet Real Estate market to help answer questions about Title Insurance - since it is one of the most expensive line items, when it comes to closing costs - for both the buyer and seller.
- John Occhi, Hemet REALTOR

Title insurance businesses have been criticized recently for overcharging customers. Here are some suggestions for making sure that you and your clients get a fair deal.

Purchase title insurance from a title insurance agent or company. Don’t let a banker of builder mandate a company – that’s illegal.

Make sure the title company is properly licensed with the state.

Ask to see the rates the agency files with the state to make sure you are paying the appropriate premium for the risk involved.

Identify the underwriter that will insure the title.

Demand and review the results of the title search and the cost of title insurance and fees before the closing date.

Ask for itemized charges. The cost for the insurance itself can’t be negotiated, but the fees can be.

Check for any exceptions to the coverage, for things such as mechanics' liens, by reviewing Schedule B before closing.

Ask if your title agency's underwriter will provide a "closing protection letter." It protects you from title defects arising from negligence or dishonesty of the agent.
File any complaint promptly with your state insurance regulatory agency.Source:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

More Expired Listings Than Sales

More Expired Listings Than Sales
By John Occhi, REALTOR®

This is a very early observation. I spent some time this weekend crunching the numbers that are available to me through the Hemet MLS.

I have been looking at numbers over a 3 month period – from September 1 through November 30, 2006.

Perhaps the most startling observation to me is that over half of the properties that came off the market, came off because they expired!

That’s right, during the specified time period there were 281 Residential listings that EXPIRED and only 280 that SOLD!

Please keep your eye on this BLOG for more details as I dive deeper into the numbers and try to make some sense of our current Hemet Real Estate market.