Category Archives: Legal

BEWARE: Wire Fraud is on the Rise

In June 2017, cybercriminals stole more than $14 million from unsuspecting people. Real estate transactions are especially vulnerable to these wily larcenists.

Real estate purchases routinely involve sending large sums of money by wire. This method is convenient, fast, and generally secure. Still, sophisticated criminals have been able to exploit people’s lack of familiarity with the real estate and escrow process.

One of the most common scams has been to convince an unwary buyer that the instructions for wiring funds have changed at the last minute “for security reasons.” The email, which appears to come from the title company or other settlement service provider, asks the buyer to wire their funds to a different link than previously agreed. The unsuspecting buyer who falls for this deception will discover, too late, that their money has been diverted to the scammer’s offshore account and is gone forever, along with the scammer.

The obvious advice is to avoid getting taken in by this kind of chicanery. Never wire funds without personally verifying with the title company or real estate closing lawyer that any change is genuine. For those unfortunates who may fall prey to the scam, there are some immediate actions that may offer a slim chance to recover the misdirected funds.

  • Contact the bank or other financial institution the funds were sent from. They may be able to stop the transfer.
  • Contact all parties involved in the real estate transaction, including the title and escrow people, the seller and the agents.
  • Inform the FBI immediately. You can file a complaint at www.ic3.gov. This should be done as quickly as possible. Even waiting just 72 hours could be too late for any recovery.

There are few experiences in life that are more stressful, emotional and confusing as buying a home. Criminals are well aware of this and will do their utmost to leverage those aspects to separate unsuspecting people from their money.

Knowledge is key.

Source: Everyone’s favorite mortgage guy, Jason Banks and TBWS

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Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act Expires

Hey DC property owners and renters… this just in from Capitol Title, one of our title partners…

The federal law that was enacted in 2009, which protected tenants from immediate eviction by persons or entities that became owners of residential property through the foreclosure process, expired as of Dec. 31, 2014.  The law provided that the purchaser in a foreclosure sale of a residential dwelling, including a bank that takes title to a house upon foreclosure, will assume the interest subject to the rights of any bona fide tenant and will need to comply with certain notice requirements. Under this law, the immediate successor in interest of a dwelling or residential real property must provide tenants with a notice to vacate at least 90 days before the effective date of such notice. The date of a “notice of foreclosure” is defined as the date on which complete title to a property is transferred to a successor entity or a person as a result of a court order or pursuant to provisions in a mortgage, deed of trust, or security deed.

Two bills were introduced during last Congress, but neither were enacted and. as of yet, nothing in regard to renewing the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act has been filed in the 114th Congress.  

When I hear more I will be sure to post here!

Red Light District a Cash Cow for the District of Columbia

A New Kind Of Red Light District

If you are traveling to D.C. over the holidays, be forewarned. The District of Columbia has expanded its arsenal of automated traffic enforcement cameras throughout various corridors of the city.

Starting on Saturday November 23, the District activated 100 next-generation traffic cameras, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. Motorists will now have to pass through stop-sign cameras, intersection speed cameras and crosswalk cameras.  And all drivers will be subject to red-light cameras.

“The city is now awash in automated traffic cameras, including red-light cameras and speed cameras,” John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs, said in a statement.  “The new cameras will nab drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians and cyclists. In addition, a battery of newfangled intersection speed cameras will ticket motorists who speed up to beat the traffic light.”

To prepare motorists, the MPD is publicizing the new camera enforcement locations around the city. The list includes:

  • 32 new portable stop-sign cameras located near schools.
  • 24 intersection speed camera units that target drivers speeding through an intersection to beat a traffic signal. The fines range from $50 to $300, depending on the clocked speed.
  • 20 gridlock camera units to identify vehicles that “block the box,” and fail to clear the intersection. The fine is $50.
  • 16 pedestrian right-of-way or crosswalk cameras to identify vehicles that fail to stop for a pedestrian. Failure to give the right of way brings a $75 fine.
  • Eight oversize vehicle cameras that ticket truck and bus drivers who drive vehicles on a residential street, such as the 1100 block of 4th Street NE or the 1300 block of Independence Ave. SE. Fine: $150.The fine for running a red light is $150.

    According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the city generated $91 million from automated traffic camera tickets during fiscal year 2012.  During the year it issued 91,550 red-light camera tickets that generated $12.9 million in revenue.

    In its fiscal 2014 proposed budget, the mayor’s office announced policy initiatives designed to increase the city’s general fund revenue by $75.1 million, with more than a third of that total, $31.7 million, coming from additional automated traffic camera enforcement revenue the city hopes to get by expanding its network of cameras.

When do I have to turn in the earnest money deposit?

QuestionAround the holiday season more than any other time of the year I find I am frequently asked when agents need to turn in their clients’ earnest money deposit checks (also referred to as escrow deposits). The answer is the same as it is any other day of the year – as soon as possible!

18 VAC 135-20-180, B., 1., a. of the Real Estate Board Regulations stated that for purchase transactions “Upon the ratification of a contract, earnest money deposits and down payments received by the principal broker or supervising broker or his associates must be placed in an escrow account by the end of the fifth business banking day following ratification, unless otherwise agreed to in writing, and shall remain in that account until the transaction has been consummated or terminated.”

Keep in mind, however, that just because the Virginia Real Estate Board (VREB) states we have five days from ratification to deposit the check, an agent’s brokerage company still needs to process the transaction before depositing the check. Agents, do you brokers and your office support a favor this holiday season and turn in your EMD as soon as you get ratified!

Agents… Keep Your Pocket Card Handy

QuestionDid You Know . . . . 

. . . the 2012 Virginia General Assembly approved House Bill 609 that was then signed by the Governor and became effective July 1, 2012?

Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR); duties of regulatory boards.  Requires a licensee of a regulatory board within the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation to furnish, upon the request of a person to whom the licensee is providing or offering to provide service, satisfactory proof that the licensee (i) is duly licensed, certified, or registered and (ii) has obtained any required bond or insurance to engage in his profession or occupation. The bill defines the term licensee “regulant” and contains technical amendments.

In other words, you must keep your current Virginia Real Estate License pocket card with you at all times and show it upon request to any client, customer, or prospect.