Avoiding Homeowner Scams

While most companies and businesses are honest and have their customer’s best interests in mind, unfortunately in some instances that is not always the case. We wanted to highlight four common homeowner scams and what you can do to prevent yourself or a loved one from becoming a victim.

  1. Movers/Moving Scams: Moving can be a stressful and expensive process. Ensure you aren’t taken advantage of by always extensively researching the company you are considering using in a variety of places, including the Better Business Bureau. Also, keep the following red flags in mind. The following are examples of suspicious/fraudulent practices: Asking you to sign a blank contract in advance, arriving on moving day in a truck with no logo/company information, refusal to give you a written estimate, demand payment before the move, only have a cell phone number for the business and no physical business address, quote you a price over the phone without inspecting your items onsite, give you a very low quote and then substantially increase the price once they reach the destination or demand more money and refuse to release your items to you. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help protect yourself from movers/moving scams:
    1. Get an in-person, written quote from several moving companies.
    2. Verify the companies are insured in the event of damage or loss to your items.
    3. Ask for the company’s DOT number and verify that they are registered on the FMCSA database.
    4. Review the contract again before the movers begin work.
    5. Do not sign a blank contract or approve an estimate over the phone.
    6. Do not pay for the move in advance or in cash.
  2. Foreclosure Scams: Sometimes scammers will contact homeowners who are having trouble making their mortgage payments and offer to “help” their situation. Usually these scammers offer to help you keep your home without going into foreclosure by charging you an upfront fee. Unfortunately, they aren’t trying to help your situation, they’re trying to help themselves to your money. These scammers look for potential victims by advertising online and in local publications, researching foreclosure notices and contacting homeowners on the list and more. Some of the tricks scammers may use in a foreclosure scam include: Telling you they can stop foreclosure by helping you file for bankruptcy, offering to negotiate with your lender/act as an intermediary between you and your mortgage lender to refinance your loan, encouraging you to sign fake documents related to foreclosure or bankruptcy, offering you fake legal help or offering to perform a forensic mortgage loan audit to help you keep your home. If you are having trouble making house payments and are facing foreclosure, remember the following important things:
    1. Government help is always free.
    2. Don’t stop making your mortgage payments.
    3. Don’t sign any documents without having them first reviewed by an attorney or independent expert.
    4. Don’t send money or mortgage payments to a company that is not your lender.
    5. Don’t give out any personal information including your social security number, bank account numbers, etc without first verifying their identity and that their company is legitimate.
    6. Research mortgage/foreclosure schemes so you don’t become a victim.
  3. Predatory Loans: Most mortgage companies and lenders are honest providers who engage in honest practices. Unfortunately, there are dishonest lenders that engage in predatory loans that put you at risk of losing your home. Some of the fraudulent practices they might use include: Encouraging borrowers to lie on their applications about income, cash available for down payment and expenses in order to obtain a loan, use false appraisals to sell properties for more than they are worth, knowingly lend borrowers more money than they know they can afford, charge high interest rates based on factors other than credit history, or charge fees for unnecessary or nonexistent products and services. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help you protect yourself:
    1. Interview multiple real estate agents and verify their license and check references.
    2. Get information about comparable properties in your neighborhood.
    3. Before executing a home purchase contract, hire a licensed and qualified home inspector.
    4. Shop for lenders and compare rates and fees. Be suspicious if anyone tries to get you to go with one particular lender.
    5. Be an educated consumer by researching and consider attending a home-ownership education course.
    6. Don’t lie about anything on your home loan application, including age and income.
    7. Don’t fall for anything that seems too good to be true.
    8. Don’t give anyone your personal information through messaging or email and not until you can verify their identity and credibility of their company.
    9. Don’t feel pressured to make a decision on the spot.
    10. Be wary of loan products offered by telemarketers, flyers or door-to-door salespeople.
  4. Rental Scams: Rental scams can impact both the tenant or future tenant and property owners. Some red flags to look out for in potential rental scams: Ads contain grammatical errors and or misspellings, the price of the property is much lower than similar properties, the owner or agent tries to get you to sign the lease before seeing the property in-person, the owner or agent is unavailable to show you the property or charges a fee to view it, or the owner or agent uses high-pressure sales tactics. Here are some do’s and don’ts to help protect you from being a victim of a rental scam:
    1. Get the terms of your lease in writing.
    2. Get a signed copy of the lease with both your signature and the property owner.
    3. Search for the property and owner on other websites including real estate websites to make sure it isn’t listed in another place or under a different name.
    4. Do not pay your security deposit, fees or first month’s rent until both parties have signed the lease.
    5. Do not wire payment for your security deposit or first/last month’s rent. If the transaction is fraudulent, you cannot recover your money if paid via wire transfer.
    6. Don’t send money for a rental property overseas.
    7. Verify the property owner/manager is legitimate before signing the lease and giving them access to your personal information.

When looking into movers, help getting out of  a foreclosure, looking for a lender, or renting your home, there are a lot of resources available to protect yourself. There is a variety of information on each topic and how to report suspected fraud, by visiting the website listed in the source below.

 

Source:

https://www.usa.gov/housing-scams,” USA.gov.

 

Kitchen Cabinet Color Trends

For anyone who enjoys keeping up with home remodeling trends, one popular area in the kitchen cabinets! Colors are getting bolder and brighter, sometimes mixing in a pop of color on the island while keeping the other cabinets neutral and more. Another great option if you’re wanting to change up your kitchen cabinets but don’t want to gut your kitchen and deal with the mess and expense that goes along with it? Consider sanding your current wood cabinets and painting them a fresh, new color!

Colors

Here are some of the popular, trendy colors according to an article in Better Homes & Gardens:

  1. Bold Blue
  2. Chartreuse
  3. Purpleheart (wood)
  4. Blue-Grey
  5. Mint
  6. Robin’s Egg Blue
  7. Red
  8. Grey
  9. Butter Yellow
  10. Greenish Grey
  11. Dark Wood Island with Contrasting White
  12. Teal
  13. Pale Blue
  14. Orange
  15. Yellow
  16. Milky Green
  17. Ebony and Ivory

 

Source:

https://www.bhg.com/kitchen/cabinets/styles/colorful-kitchen-cabinetry/?did=338736-20190211&utm_campaign=bhg-diy_newsletter&utm_source=bhg.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=021119&cid=338736&mid=18495592236&slide=slide_93569#slide_93569,” Better Homes & Gardens.

What Home Projects Have the Highest ROI?

Have you ever thought about updating your home? Whether you’re updating and planning to stay or sell, do you know which projects will get you the best return on your investment? Especially if updates are being made before putting your home on the market, it makes sense to weigh the upfront cost of the projects and updates with your likely return compared to leaving your home “as is”.

According to an article in Remodeling magazine, these are the following projects with the most return on investment:

  1. Manufactured Stone Veneer
  2. Steel Entry-Door Replacements
  3. Garage Door Replacements

And these are the projects with the worst return on investment:

  1. Master Suite Additions
  2. Backyard Patios
  3. Major Kitchen Renovations

This list is in no way comprehensive and of course, return on investment is influenced by many factors, including the housing market in your area, buyer’s demand, and more, but this may give you something to think about if you’re considering any home remodeling projects.

 

Source:

https://www.texasrealestate.com/members/posts/which-home-projects-have-the-highest-roi/”, Texas Realtors.

9 Holiday Travel Tips

With the Holiday’s in full swing, it’s no surprise many of us are busy with extra activities and festivities. Many of us are also gearing up for some Holiday travel. Whether traveling by car, plane or another method, traveling can be stressful, especially around the Holidays with the increase in people traveling. We’ve included some great tips to hopefully make your Holiday travels a little less stressful and more enjoyable! Bon voyage!

  1. PLAN AHEAD AND DO YOUR RESEARCH
  • This one may seem obvious, but planning ahead and researching ahead of time can save a lot of time, hassle and money. If driving, it can be helpful to map out several routes based on traffic, travel times and more in case you run into something unexpected. When flying, check into potential baggage fees, parking costs, and more to avoid unexpected costs and surprises.

 

  1. PUT YOUR SMARTPHONE TO GOOD USE
  • Traveling by plane? Consider downloading your airline’s app for paperless boarding, up to the minute gate and flight information, in-flight entertainment and more. You can also download the app GateGuru to see approximate security line time estimates. If traveling by car, GasBuddy is a great app to help you find the cheapest gas and SitorSquat is a great app for finding the cleanest bathrooms.

 

  1. PACK SMART
  • If you can avoid checking luggage, it can end up saving a lot of hassle. Luggage gets lost, especially this time of year. Many airlines also allow a free checked bag plus a personal item so avoiding checking your luggage can also save you a lot of money!

 

  1. BRING EARPLUGS OR HEADPHONES
  • Let’s face it. Traveling can be loud. Whether it’s in the airport, on the plane or in the car, sometimes you just need some peace and quiet. Headphones or earplugs can be a great way to zone out and listen to music. Have noise-cancelling headphones? Even better!

 

  1. PACK SNACKS
  • A big mistake when traveling is forgetting to eat and pack snacks. Traveling can be stressful enough, and you don’t want to add a group of hungry and tired travelers to that mix! Having a hearty meal before heading on your way and packing snacks can keep everyone from getting hangry, and that means a more pleasant trip!

 

  1. SHIP GIFTS AHEAD OF TIME
  • Bringing a bunch of gifts when flying can be such a hassle. You’ll likely have to pay to check the gifts anyway, and TSA can unwrap your gifts during the screening process. You can save yourself a lot of hassle by wrapping and shipping your gifts before you travel. Or if you really want to make gift giving hassle free, consider buying gift cards!

 

  1. AVOID TRAVELING ON THE BUSIEST DAYS
  • It may not be ideal, but traveling on the Holiday itself can save you money and is way less stressful because the airport is a lot less busy. Also choosing the earliest possible flight often means less security lines, greater on-time performance and a better chance of getting rebooked the same day in the event of a delay or cancellation. Same goes for car travel. Consider traveling on the holiday itself or choosing less popular times (like driving early in the morning or overnight).

 

  1. PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED
  • When flying, carefully look at the times in between flights if you have a connection. It can be very stressful to have a connecting flight in an unfamiliar airport, especially if you have a very small time window. When driving, take care to research the weather conditions and plan accordingly if traveling somewhere with or the potential for snow. It’s always smart to have proper gear in the car in the event of a flat tire or car trouble.

 

  1. KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE
  • Remembering that you are on your way to be with friends or family can help keep perspective, even if things don’t go perfectly. And you never know – you might have some great stories to share too!

 

 

Source:

https://www.travelchannel.com/interests/holidays/articles/top-10-survival-tips-for-holiday-travel ,” Travel Channel.