Category Archives: Blog

Brokers Seeing “Simple Economic Recipe For a Softening Housing Market”

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (July 5, 2018) – Home buyers around many parts of Washington state had
more choices and less competition during June, prompting some industry leaders to comment on “a
feeling of change in the market.”

“Inventory is up and demand has dropped,” reported Robert Wasser, an officer with the board of directors
at Northwest Multiple Listing Service. That combination is “a pretty simple economic recipe for a
softening market,” he added in commenting on the latest MLS statistics.

Figures for June show a 5.2 percent improvement in the number of active listings system-wide, coupled
with drops in the volume of pending sales (down 8.4 percent) and closed sales (down .07 percent)
compared with a year ago. Despite the shift of some indicators favoring buyers, prices area-wide
continued to rise, increasing more than 10 percent from twelve months ago.

“There was a feeling of change in the market this June and the numbers supported that feeling,” remarked
John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. He noted many brokers also reported an
increase in properties going past their offer review date, more price reductions, and an increase in reverse
prospecting (a tool that allows the listing broker to view a list of brokers with potential buyers for that
listing). “We’re also experiencing a decrease in multiple offers and the number of buyers participating in
multiple offers,” added Deely.

Northwest MLS brokers added 13,153 new listings to inventory during June, a drop from both a year ago
when they added 13,658, and from May when 14,524 new listings were added. With new listings
outgaining sales, total inventory as measured by active listings and months of supply improved.

At month end, Northwest MLS reported 15,234 active listings and 1.5 months of supply. Inventory of
single family homes and condos reached its highest level since October. The supply of active listings in
King County surged 47 percent from a year ago, boosting the months of supply to just under 1.3 months –
the highest level since September 2016 when there was 1.37 months of supply.

“Although still a quick response market, with more new listings coming on the market during the summer
months, we experienced dispersed buyer energy due to the greater availability and selection,” stated J.
Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. He estimates sales activity is off 15-to-20
percent for each new listing’s first 30 days on the market. “Now through October will be the best time of
year for homebuyers,” he remarked.

“Sellers are becoming more active in the market as they sense buyers pulling back,” suggested George
Moorhead, designated broker and owner at Bentley Properties. Improving supply, a marked increase in
expired or cancelled listings, and market times almost doubling are factors he mentioned when describing
the market as “more than just lackluster” with summer showing no sign of improvement.

Cybercrime Hitting Real Estate – Beware of Scams!

Source: RISMedia

Online criminals are targeting the real estate industry and stealing large sums of money from unwary homebuyers. This fraud can destroy real estate transactions, so the National Association of REALTORS® is urging real estate professionals across the country to immediately implement safety measures to reduce the risk of becoming a victim

In a typical scenario, a criminal will hack into the email account of the person involved in an upcoming real estate transaction. The hacker will then send a sham email to the buyer, or another individual who will be wiring transaction-related funds. The email will state that there has been a last-minute change to the wiring instructions. Following the new instructions
contained in the email, the recipient will then wire the money directly to the hacker’s account, which will be cleared out in a matter of minutes. The money is almost always lost forever.

Most email users today can easily recognize the email scams that are rife with poor spelling and grammatical oddities. In contrast, the fraudulent emails being utilized in this wire scam are virtually indistinguishable from legitimate communications. Because hackers are gaining access to the email accounts of individuals directly involved in the transaction, they’re able to include detailed information in their fraudulent emails, including key names, dates, and mocked-up signature lines.

There are a number of measures that real estate agents and others involved in real estate transactions can take to help keep themselves and clients from falling victim to this crime. First, from the outset of any deal, inform all parties to the transaction of this ongoing scheme, to ensure that everyone stays alert to suspicious activity. Second, request that all parties implement reasonable security practices throughout the course of the transaction, such as only using confirmed telephone numbers or face-to-face communication to share sensitive financial or personal information. As a final failsafe, immediately prior to wiring any money, the person initiating the wire should call the intended recipient via a verified
telephone number to confirm the wiring instructions.

Other important steps to avoiding exposure to email fraud include:

  • Never conduct business over unsecured WiFi.
  • Clean out email accounts on a regular basis
  • Change email passwords on a regular basis
  • Implement complex passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Implement the most up-to-date firewall and anti-virus technologies.

If a fraudster has successfully infiltrated a transaction, NAR says:

  • If money has already been wired via false wiring instructions, immediately call all banks and financial institutions that could possibly stop the wire.
  • Contact your local police.
  • Contact all parties who may have been exposed during the attack so that they take appropriate action.
  • Change all passwords.
  • Report the activity to the FBI via their Internet Crime Complaint Center.

This advice is not all-inclusive, and real estate professionals should work with information technology and cybersecurity professionals to ensure that their email accounts, online systems, and business practices are as secure and up-to-date as possible.