Roadmap with Irina - October 2022

Roadmap with Irina - October 2022

 

MARKET SNAPSHOT
Hi <<First Name>>, 

Different cities in Santa Clara County showed different changes in median price in September. For example, median sale prices for single-family homes in Santa Clara, Morgan Hill, Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Los Altos, and Los Altos Hills went 4-17% up compared to August of this year. The biggest jump was in Monte Sereno where the median price went 61% up. At the same time the cities of Saratoga, San Jose, Cupertino, Campbell, Mountain View, Gilroy, Los Gatos, and Milpitas showed a decrease in median sale price by up to 9%. Condo and townhouses median sale prices have a more stable picture throughout the county.

The number of sales went down for the 3rd month in a row with 1,091 sales in September vs 1,113 sales in August of this year. There were 1,280 new listings in September, vs 1,338 in August, so the inventory continues to decline.
Most of the homes are selling around the asking price, and even if a property received multiple offers, they are all very close in price, no more than 1-4% over asking. Some properties that stay on the market for longer than 30 days tend to be sold under the asking price.
I still think this is a great time to buy a house. Inflation in September was 8.2%, and the median interest rates in September were around 6 - 6.5%, so buying a house now will save your money from inflation even if house prices will continue to go down.

If you are thinking about buying or selling, let’s connect, talk about your options, run some numbers, and see if this is the right time for you. Call me, I am always here for you.

 
PREVENTING IDENTITY FRAUD

Anyone can be a victim of homeowner identity fraud, including wire, mortgage, and title insurance fraud. The financial implications can be damaging and long-lasting.
Use these tips to protect yourself from being scammed and defrauded.
 
Wire fraud
Wire fraud usually happens during the closing phase of a home purchase. Homebuyers are typically busy with their last-minute to-do lists and unwittingly become victims to wire fraud activity.
Phishing and spoofing
The scammers scour the internet for pending real estate listings and collect as much personal data as possible about the real estate agent and seller. They pose as someone involved in the transaction by setting up a valid email address that looks similar to the real one making it easy to miss—it may contain a dot or an extra letter that is not immediately noticed. Consequently, buyers may divulge their personal and financial information. You can take preventive measures at the onset by obtaining the contact information of all parties involved in the transaction. Reference this information later to sidestep this type of identity fraud.
Database hacking
Cybercriminals are adept at capturing and identifying current real estate transactions and information about buyers and sellers. They hack into online programs used by real estate agents, title companies, and mortgage lenders, opening the door for them to track closings. Once the hackers have all the information they need, it makes it easier for them to masquerade as the real estate agent, title company, or lender, swooping in on unsuspecting homebuyers.
Wiring instructions changes
Do not reply to emails trying to confirm your wiring instructions, even if they appear to be coming from the agent, lender, or title company. You may not realize that the email is fraudulent, so be sure to verbally confirm the wiring instructions with your title company and be suspicious of calls from an unknown person who claims to be part of the transaction.

Mortgage fraud
Mortgage fraud can come in many forms, but homebuyers must pay particular attention to predatory lending practices, hacking schemes, mortgage reduction scams, or promises of foreclosure rescue.
Home refinancing
Various database systems make it easy to see who is behind on mortgage payments or who is in pre-foreclosure—this can be a goldmine for hackers who prey on distressed homeowners. These scammers will send letters, emails, or even call or text to offer their services to provide relief by refinancing your loan with low interest rates. Their intent is to obtain your personal information, including your name, address, date of birth, and social security number, which may be used for their own purposes or to sell to another entity for profit.
Forced refinancing
This scam is an attempt to steal your personal information and pose as the lender by sending you a letter that appears to be legitimate, since it includes your mortgage loan number and amount. It instructs you to call a certain number because your loan must be refinanced. They may even ask you to fill out a form or wire money to start the process.
Predatory Lending
Be wary of lenders who will not divulge their lending fees to you, try to sell you unnecessary products that are added to your mortgage payment(called loan packing), or who offers to set up an automatic payment plan for you which can result in them forcing payments from your account, leaving you with overdraft fees.

Home title fraud
Home title fraud occurs when the ownership of your home is fraudulently transferred out of your name and the scammer replaces their name on the deed. They use this updated deed to defraud lenders by using your home as collateral or selling your home without your knowledge. Although not overly common, occurrences have increased over the past five years as personal information continues to be more accessible online.
Primary targets for home title fraud include owners of vacation homes and investment properties that are not regularly monitored (have someone regularly check your unoccupied home), and the elderly. It should be noted that because these signatures are fraudulent, your property cannot legally be stolen.

Preventing homeowner identity fraud
Securing your identity is the first step to protecting yourself from wire, mortgage, and home title fraud. You should also secure your digital devices by installing firewalls and antivirus software.
Set up two-factor authentication (2FA) 
Setting up a 2FA verifies that you are the person accessing an account. Leaving this dual-factor authentication on, adds a layer of security to prevent hackers from stealing your information.
Create strong passwords
Although 2FA will supersede any attempt for scammers to use your passwords, it’s still a good idea to create strong passwords for that extra tier of protection. Be sure your passwords are not tied to your personal information, that they’re longer in length, have a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, include numbers and symbols, and don’t use complete words.
Monitor your mortgage status
Do not ignore any communication that appears to be coming from your mortgage company. Sporadically check that your mortgage information has not changed, and if something doesn’t seem right, investigate it.
Subscribe to a monthly credit monitoring service
Credit bureaus including Experian, Transunion, and Equifax, will alert you of any new activity on your account. If something appears suspicious, you can contact them immediately.
Be wary of unknown email addresses
Phishing and spoofing scams obtain your personal information by luring you in with fraudulent tactics via texting, phone calls, emails, and harmful links. Scrutinize email addresses and do not download unknown links and attachments. Never give out your personal information when contacted by unfamiliar people or businesses.
Be mindful of your social media shares
You can unwittingly provide scammers with personal information on your social media pages, such as your birthdate, family member names, or even the schools you have attended. This leaves an open door for them to guess passwords and even usernames.

Stay safe! 

ORGANIZING MY HOME
Last weekend I started a big annual cleaning of my house. We are all accustomed to spring cleaning, but I prefer doing a big house cleaning closer to the end of the year. During the whole year, we collect stuff, but closer to the winter holidays I feel like I need to have more space in my house to start the new year fresh, and getting rid of unnecessary stuff is the best way to do that.

I have a rule of 3 years: if I do not wear a piece of clothing or use something for more than 3 years, it needs to go. Of course, I have kept a few things that I have great memories about (like a wedding outfit or my first baby’s shoes), but I show no mercy to most of the stuff. The number of clothes and shoes is always increasing in our closets. I hate shopping, but I still buy things that I end up not using. For example, I was too optimistic about my weight loss ability and bought clothes of smaller size that I still cannot fit in, but I gave myself a second chance (3 years rule, remember?).  By the way, this rule does not apply to my yarn collection. ๐Ÿ˜Š I knit a lot and hope to use it all eventually, but my 10 boxes of yarn tell me that it will take a while to empty them.  

Organizing my workspace is another important task. During the year I collect tons of things that need to be sorted out periodically: marketing materials that I like, receipts, drafts, samples of renovation materials, open house flyers, stationary, letters, magazines, gift ideas, samples, etc. It is a work in progress all the time, so it gets better sometimes. 

Cleaning the kid’s bedrooms and closets is the most rewarding: first, I don’t do it myself anymore, and second, so many lost items can be found there! Books, favorite sweaters, crackers, empty chip bags, unreturned homework, water bottles, and even dirty dishes and cups! Sometimes I wonder why the girls are so messy, but I think the only way to fix it is to just be a good role model and do the cleaning on a regular basis. 

Another rule in our house: cars should be parked in the garage. A two-car garage should have enough space for two cars, and the rest can be taken by other stuff. Last year we broke this rule: we replaced the carpet with hardwood in our house and had to take my car out of the garage to store the flooring and other materials. The renovation is over, but I still park my car outside: little by little, the space was filled up with so many things, so it is time to get serious and claim it back. I hope that I will be able to get it done by the end of the year. 

We donate or recycle most things, so it feels good when I think that someone can use things that do not serve us anymore. All hazardous waste gets disposed of at a special site in San Jose, and I am happy that we also just helped our neighbors to get rid of such materials too, so all of us have a much safer environment now.  

Cleaning the house is a tedious task that most people don’t like doing, but once a year even I can handle it. ๐Ÿ˜Š Being a homeowner means being busy all the time with one house project or another, but after all, we create a better place for our families and feel proud of our accomplishments. Keep your homes in good shape! And if you need any help, call me anytime! I am always here for you.
Always yours,
Irina 
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Work With Irina

Working mainly by referrals, I do my best to provide excellent real estate services to my clients, always exceeding their expectations. Whether they are buying or selling, I walk them through every transaction step, making it transparent and smooth. My relationships are always based on open communication, loyalty, and true commitment.

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