Voice for Real Estate 43: Scams, Accounting, Appraisals

Scammers are stealing the identities of people buying and selling real estate and getting closing funds diverted to them. They do it by hacking into the email of someone involved in the transaction and then mimicking one of the settlement providers. Other stories in The Voice for Real Estate for the week of April 4: why NAR has concerns over appraisal changes to the FHA single-family handbook, how upcoming accounting rule changes are expected to spur companies and investors to rethink their real estate holdings, and what spring home sales look like based on latest contract signings.

Featured Segments:

  • Real Estate Scams
  • Accounting Rule Changes
  • FHA Appraisal Changes
  • February Contract Signings   

Get more on all the topics covered in this video:

Voice for Real Estate 43: Transcript

Scams, Accounting, Appraisalse

Stephen Gasque Voice Over: 

Scams are hitting real estate—and you can stop them
Accounting changes create opportunities for you
And pending contracts are heading up
These stories and more on The Voice for Real Estate
Hi, I’m Stephen Gasque with the National Association of Realtors
Identity theft! It’s all over the news. We think it can’t happen to us—but real estate is becoming a
tempting target for cyber-fraud scammers, who are trying to steal the money that’s involved in buying a
That’s why NAR and the Federal Trade Commission have teamed up to post an alert on the FTC website.
The alert reveals how scammers work. First, they find a way to break into the email account of someone
involved in the transaction—the consumer, the real estate agent, the lender, or the title agent. Then, by
reading emails related to the transaction, they learn the scheduled closing date. Then using a similar email
address they instruct the buyer to send the money to a different account— the scammer’s account—and
the money is gone.
David Vladeck, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission, has
more on these types of wire transfer scams.
But here’s an example of how one real estate company is fighting back. Keller Williams Heritage Realty,
in San Antonio and Dallas, requires all clients to sign a notice warning them of the potential for email
fraud…and, directing them not to follow any instructions to transmit money by e-mail.
Up next? Accounting changes that might affect – your commercial real estate clients! For two decades the
Financial Accounting Standards Board, has been working on changes to how businesses account for
assets and liabilities on their balance sheets. Some of these changes will take effect starting in 2019 and
that’s expected to make many businesses rethink how much real estate they want to own or lease.
The time to start learning about these accounting changes, and how they could affect your commercial
clients, is now, because businesses won’t be waiting until 2019 to start planning their strategies. NAR’s
Stephanie Spear has more.
You can learn more about the issue in a video from NAR Government Affairs…on nar.realtor.
Now, every real estate professional knows – that appraisers are not home inspectors! And yet FHA is
asking appraisers to do more tasks that NAR believes are more appropriately assigned to home inspectors.
For example, it’s asking appraisers to test and report on how well appliances are working—like the stove
and dishwasher. Those changes are found in the FHA’s latest handbook on single-family mortgage loan
programs. NAR’s Sehar Siddiqi says NAR is asking FHA to rethink these policy changes.
One simple, but important change would be to add language making clear that appraisals are not home
Good news on home sales. NAR’s latest data shows pending home sales are up 3.5 percent from the
previous month, and they’re higher than they were a year ago, also. That suggests we could have a solid
spring market, in 2016. Pending Home Sales represent homes under contract – which have not yet gone to
closing. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun has more.
Next week, NAR will be releasing its latest existing-home sales figures, so well keep you updated on that.
We’ll bring you the numbers in our next report.
And that’s our show for the week of April 4. You can get more on everything we talked about today at
The Voice for Real Estate page on nar.realtor. Thank you for joining us and be sure to join us again as
we bring you the latest news on The Voice for Real Estate.