GSA Realty Blog: Real estate

Avoiding Real Estate Cyber Scams

How to Avoid Real Estate Cyber Scams

Phishing, hacking, wire fraud - these are all ways people attempt to steal from others online. As real estate searches and transactions move more and more online, the chances of being caught up in a cyber scam have become even greater.

By now most people have heard of the Nigerian prince scams or phishing emails asking for social security or banking information, but many people don’t know that they need to watch out for possible scams when buying or selling their home.  Cybercrimes have become increasingly sophisticated over the years and the people perpetrating them focus on situations where a lot of money is changing hands, making real estate transactions an ideal target.

The National Association of Realtors® recently warned its members and consumers about one example, a wiring scam during the closing stage of the home buying and selling process. Hackers will break into the email accounts of consumers and real estate professionals to get details about a real estate transaction. The hacker will then send an email pretending to be the buyer, seller, real estate agent or someone else involved in the closing process and say there has been a last minute change and provide new wiring instructions; the instructions send the closing costs funds directly into the hacker’s bank account.

While it may seem like there are hundreds of ways for a criminal to take advantage of a consumer online, there are just as many ways consumers can protect themselves. Here are a few tips to help home buyers and sellers recognize and avoid real estate scams:

 

Do not send sensitive information via email. Do not send banking information, your social security number or anything else that could be used to comprise your identity over email.  If you absolutely must send personal or sensitive information via email, only use encrypted email.

Do not click on unverified email.  If you do not recognize the name or email address of the sender, do not open the email.  And beware of any attachments or downloadable files from unknown email addresses; they can contain viruses or provide a way for a hacker to access your computer.  

Do not use unsecured Wi-Fi. It may seem harmless to check banking information using the free Wi-Fi at your local coffee shop, but using an open connection can leave you vulnerable to hackers and scammers. Only access sensitive information on your home computer or on a secured network.

If you suspect fraud, tell someone.  If you suspect that fraud has or is in the process of occurring, contact all parties contacted to the transaction immediately. Unfortunately, often there is nothing that can be done to retrieve money stolen in the scam, however, you should still report the incident to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/e-scams or the Federal Trade Commission at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0003-phishing.

 

 

Centre Region Market Update

Real estate in central PA in 2016 is different than what we have seen in the past few years. In the first quarter of this year we have clear evidence of this.

Residential listings throughout Centre County have been lower than usual. By comparison the number of residential sales for 2016 are up. Those factors are clear indications that we are in a Seller’s market where demand exceeds the supply. These conditions will help to push home prices higher on average.

Lenders have become more willing to extend credit to buyers and interest rates continue to be at very low levels. The properly priced and prepared property will sell quickly, as has been demonstrated in a reduction in the number of days on the market for a typical home in this area.

Another part of the real estate market that is growing in the Centre Region, as well as other areas in the country, is an increased demand for more efficient homes. These type of homes are often referred to as Green or High Performance Housing. As more people realize that such housing can reduce operating costs, as well as improve the quality of life within the home and their community, the demand for both new construction and renovations of existing homes to incorporate new technologies and strategies has increased significantly.

Much of the demand for high performance housing is being driven by the younger buyers in the marketplace. Many of the young professionals and families understand that such an approach will save them money in the long run, add value to their homes and contribute to a better quality of life for them and their community.

In talking with my friends at ‪#‎Envinity‬, as well as other contractors, builders and designers the biggest demand is in regards to areas of more efficient HVAC systems, improved insulation, and the use of solar technologies. In new building as well as reconstruction there is an increasing interest in more open floor plans to improve air flow, maximize natural lighting, and use of passive solar design.

The real estate market in the Centre Region continues to reflect the high quality of life we enjoy in central PA. 2016 looks to be a very good year for selling, buying and investing in real estate with indications that values, as well as interest rates, will continue to increase over time.

The markets are changing quickly. Since real estate is variable from one area to another it is advisable to work with a local Realtor, and other professionals, to provide you with accurate and current information so you can make the best decisions to meet your needs and goals.

April is Fair Housing Month

April marks the 48th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin and sex. Fair housing laws at the national, state and local levels ensure that everyone has access to buy, sell, rent or mortgage a home, without regard to their age, ancestry, color, disabilities, familial status, national origin, race, religion or sex.

Realtors® strive to build communities and help everyone achieve the American dream of homeownership.

We’re seeing an increasingly multicultural future and fair housing laws help protect consumers in this expanding market.   RealtorS® strongly support the Fair Housing Act. In fact, our National Association of Realtors®’ Code of Ethics includes fair housing standards and prohibits discrimination, and as Realtors®, we’re obligated to adhere to this code.

Realtors® strive to preserve and expand housing opportunities within their communities.  We want to assist everyone in finding the home that best meets their needs.

Sometimes consumers may be looking for additional information regarding crime statistics, a school district or the ethnic make-up of a neighborhood.

Realtors® are prohibited from discussing this type of information to avoid potential steering to or away from a specific neighborhood. They are able to provide their clients with resources to determine whether this is the right neighborhood for them.

If consumers believe they have experienced a fair housing issue, they should contact the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission at www.phrc.state.pa.us.

I’d also like to give you a quick stat on the housing market in our MLS for the first quarter of this year compared to 2014.  In the chart below you will see that we had a pretty strong first quarter with a nice uptick in homes sold vs. 2014.  This was likely due to the continued low interest rate environment and the early spring weather that we have been experiencing so far this year. The number of homes on the market is also up over last year and thus buyers are more likely to find a home that they like and will purchase.

Coventry Place, A State College Community

COVENTRY PLACE is a UNIQUE, condominium community featuring a variety of luxurious, single family (detached) homes as condominiums. Pick an available building site, pick your floor plan, and have your new home custom built and finished the way you want it to be by Haubert Homes, a very reputable, respected builder in Central PA. Haubert Homes can provide you with floor plans that are appropriate for Coventry Place or you can bring a desired floor plan for Haubert Homes to review.
Enjoy the easy living " Lifestyle " that is Coventry Place!  The low condo fee at Coventry Place ($105 / month) covers lawn mowing, snow removal and refuse.
Also, enjoy the very Convenient Location of Coventry Place - close to some of State College areas' best retail shopping, restaurants and golfing. Coventry Place with easy access to North Atherton Street and Route 322 / Interstate 99 - is located on Bolton Avenue off of North Allen Street. Take Waddle Road or Oakwood Avenue to Clearview Avenue and then turn onto North Allen Street. You will see Coventry Place ahead of you on Bolton Avenue.
An expansive park (Marjorie Mae Park) is located adjacent to Coventry Place with lots of open space for you to enjoy.
Buildable Area prices start at $75,000 - and new home prices vary depending on the type and size of home you wish to build.
Please call Ken Stuck, REALTOR at Gambone, Songer and Associates Realty for more information about Coventry Place.

Thank you for visiting the BHGRE Commercial - GSA Realty website. We appreciate your interest. Please reach out to us if we can help with any of your commercial real estate needs!  If you have any suggestions on how we could improve our site, we would love to hear from you. 

State College:
341 Science Park Road
Suite #202
State College, PA 16803
Phone: 814.237.5384

Tyrone:
5523 Pleasant Valley Blvd.
Suite #1
Tyrone, PA 16686
Phone: 814.682.7565
 
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Client Testimonials

“I would not have found my forever home if it weren’t for the diligence of my real estate agent, Jodi Carts. She pinpointed exactly what I was looking for and kept me informed every step of the way. I feel she went way beyond the call of duty in meeting my needs, she worked relentlessly! She has ample knowledge of the Liberty Hill community that I now call home. I highly recommend her for all of your realty needs.” Mary Laura "Laurie" Jones - Liberty Hill at Boalsburg
"My family was relocating from Florida to the State College area 3.5 years ago for employment. We were unfamiliar with the area and naturally began to contact realtors to assist us in finding a rental with intentions on purchasing after our first year of living here. We were extremely disappointed in the level of service we received upon reaching out. We were not getting called back. We even had one realtor email back and tell us to check Craig's list!! The first email I sent to Karen Krupa of GSA was immediately responded to with a warm friendly response and a follow up phone call. We were relieved to find a professional to help us. Karen recommended a nearby hotel to stay during our first visit. Upon arrival of the hotel she had prepared a package of local attractions and information which was waiting at the front desk. This renewed our hope in finding the right realtor. Karen had also lined up several properties for us to look at while visiting. We eventually decided to purchase a home and in mid visit Karen happily showed us properties that fit our needs. After getting back to Florida we decided to buy a spec home which was being finished. Karen walked us through the entire process and kept on top of the progress that was happening on our new home. The extra time, care and concern that Karen showed to our family during the home hunting process went above and beyond any realtor we had ever worked with. If you're in the market for a new home or selling your home I would highly recommend Karen Krupa for her expertise as your personal realtor." The James Family - Bellefonte

Thank you for visiting the BHGRE Commercial - GSA Realty website. We appreciate your interest. Please reach out to us if we can help with any of your commercial real estate needs!  If you have any suggestions on how we could improve our site, we would love to hear from you. 

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