Scammers Phish for Mortgage Closing Costs

This is so important to our real estate community, that I am posting both information from the FTC and from the National Association of Realtors about this scam.   I know of one case in Nashville last year where a buyer received last minute instructions by email that looked like they were coming from their lender and closing agent, asking them to send their down payment and funds for closing costs to a different bank wire address.  The buyer complied…only to find out it was a scam, their true lender never received the funds to close on their dream home, and the money was wired overseas.  Here is the  update this week from the FTC, followed by the original message sent in December by the NAR.

Scammers phish for mortgage closing costs

 March 18, 2016

Buying a home is exciting. You saved for the down payment, scheduled the move, and are dreaming of planting new roots. Closing is right around the corner… unless a scammer gets your settlement fees first.

The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors® are warning home buyers about an email and money wiring scam. Hackers have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account could be cleared out in a matter of minutes. Often, that’s money the buyer will never see again.

If you’re buying a home and get an email with money-wiring instructions, STOP. Email is not a secure way to send financial information, and your real estate professional or title company should know that. If it’s a phishing email, report it to the FTC.

Here are some ideas to help you avoid phishing scams:

  • Don’t email financial information. It’s not secure.
  • If you’re giving your financial information on the web, make sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with https (the “s” stands for secure). And, instead of clicking a link in an email to go to an organization’s site, look up the real URL and type in the web address yourself.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and security software up to date.

Learn more about protecting yourself from phishing and what to do if your email is hacked. If you gave your information to a scammer, visit IdentityTheft.gov.

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Original warning from NAR –

Urgent Alert: Sophisticated Email Scams Targeting the Real Estate Industry

December 15, 2015
Criminals are hacking into the email accounts of real estate agents or other persons involved in a real estate transaction and using information gained from the hack to dupe a party into a fraudulent wire transfer. The hackers often send an email that appears to be from an individual legitimately involved in the transaction, informing the recipient, often the buyer, that there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions.  Following the new instructions, the recipient will wire funds directly to the hacker’s account, which will be cleared out in a matter of minutes. The money is almost always lost forever.

In the next two weeks, real estate professionals will be contending with high transactional volumes during year-end closings. This is a busy and hectic time for real estate professionals, and many millions of dollars will be sent and received via wire before the end of the year. This is exactly the environment in which online criminals seek to operate.

The National Association of REALTORS® urges its members and state and local REALTOR® associations to be on high alert for email and online fraud.

In May 2015, NAR issued an alert regarding a sophisticated email wire fraud hitting the real estate industry.  Since then, the incidents of online scams targeting practitioners have continued to rise but the advice is the same.

Bottom line: Do not let your guard down.  Start from the assumption that any email in your in-box could be a targeted attack from a criminal.

Prevention

Follow this guidance to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Immediately contact all parties to all of your upcoming transactions and inform them of the possibility of this fraud.  Attorneys, escrow agents, buyers, sellers, real estate agents, and title agents have all been targeted in these scams.  You can also download and distribute NAR’s online fraud prevention handout, accessible here.
  • If possible, do not send sensitive information via email.  If you must use email to send sensitive information, use encrypted email.
  • Immediately prior to wiring any money, the person sending the money must call the intended recipient to verify the wiring instructions.  Only use a verified telephone number to make this call.
  • Do not trust contact information in unverified emails.  The hackers will recreate legitimate-looking signature blocks with their own telephone number.   In addition, fraudsters will include links to fake websites to further convince victims of their legitimacy.
  • Never click on any links in an unverified email.  In addition to leading you to fake websites, these links can contain viruses and other malicious spyware that can make your computer – and your transactions – vulnerable to attack.
  • Never conduct business over unsecured wifi.
  • Trust your instincts.  Tell clients that if an e-mail or a telephone call ever seems suspicious or “off,” that they should refrain from taking any action until the communication has been independently verified as legitimate.
  • Clean out your e-mail account on a regular basis. Your e-mails may establish patterns in your business practice over time that hackers can use against you. In addition, a longstanding backlog of e-mails may contain sensitive information from months or years past. You can always save important e-mails in a secure location on your internal system or hard drive.
  • Change your usernames and passwords on a regular basis, and make sure your employees and licensees do the same.
  • Never use usernames or passwords that are easy to guess. Never, ever use the password “password.”
  • Make sure to implement the most up-to-date firewall and anti-virus technologies in your business.

Damage Control

If you believe your e-mail or any other account has been hacked, or that you or a client has otherwise been a victim of online fraud, you should take the following steps:

  • If money has been wired via false wiring instructions, immediately call all banks and financial institutions that could possibly put a stop to the wire.
  • Contact your local police.
  • Contact any clients or other parties who may have been exposed during the attack so that they take appropriate action. Remind them not to comply with any requests from an unverified source.
  • Change all usernames and passwords associated with any account that you believe may have been compromised or otherwise made vulnerable by the attack.
  • Report any fraudulent activity to the Federal Bureau of Investigations via their Internet Crime Complaint Center. More information can be found by clicking here (link is external).

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

Be aware that these emails are extremely convincing.  Many sophisticated parties have been duped. No one should assume that they are “too savvy” to recognize the fraud.  In addition, no one should assume that they are “too small a target” to be on these criminals’ radars. This fraud is pervasive, convincing, and constantly evolving.

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The Secret to Nashville’s Music Economy

What Drives Nashville’s Music Industry…

So many of my clients are in the music industry or moving here to become part of the music industry.  Sure, Nashville has a huge focus on country music – but it is also reaching into the worlds of pop and rock.  Little Texas and Andy Ross web

Nashville has long been hailed as one of America’s top music hubs. In addition to its wide-ranging cultural influence, the city’s music scene has grown faster than any other—including superstar cities like New York, L.A., and London. Despite having the most vibrant country music scene in the world, Nashville has also extended its reach into pop and rock: Taylor Swift got her start there, both Jack White and the Black Keys relocated there, and popular acts like El Movimiento and Paramore call Nashville home. Back in 2009, Nashville was dubbed “the Silicon Valley of the music business.” To this day, Nashville continues to top various lists of America’s fastest-growing and most livable places.

We have new restaurants opening practically daily.  Cranes are seen everywhere in downtown Nashville, building new hotels and mixed-use high-rises with condos and/or hotel rooms on upper floors and restaurants and shops on the first level.  cranes in Nashville

Click here for the complete article on what drives the Nashville Music Industry.

Posted in 12 South, Benchmark, brentwood, brentwood homes for sale, brentwood real estate, buyers, concerts, country music, davidson county, Downtown Nashville, East Nashville, for sale, franklin, franklin homes for sale, franklin real estate, fundraisers, gallatin, gallatin homes for sale, gallatin real estate, green hills, green hills houses for sale, green hills real estate, hendersonville, hendersonville homes for sale, hendersonville real estate, home buying blogs, home selling blogs, homes, homes for, homes for sale, houses, houses for sale, keller williams, Liepers Fork, Midtown, moving, nashville, nashville homes for sale, nashville real estate, Old Hickory, real estate, real estate articles, real estate blogs, realtor, relocation, rosalie mietzel, rosie mietzel, sellers, SoBro, sumner county, tennesee, The Gulch, tn, Uncategorized, williamson county | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Year…A New Start

Happy New Year 2016

Sometimes life just wears you down…whether it’s personal losses, workplace issues, or just the little things in life that get in the way. Sometimes is all of the above.  It’s easy to get in a rut and do “the same old, same old”, and get results that are “the same old, same old”.

You can either accept it or do something about it.  You can’t change everything, but sometimes just changing one thing can make a difference.  I did and it already feels great.  Same industry, same connections, same professional relationships…but with a slightly different outlook that works for me! I’m excited about the year and prospects it holds.  Life has no remote...get up and change it yourself

Reading through my new office  manual, it speaks to me in a very powerful way.  Benchmark Realty LLC – the literal definition of our name is: “the standard by which others can be compared.”  Meaning that by our very name we are shouting to the world that we collectively hold ourselves to a higher level of performance than others; that we strive for excellence and professionalism in everything we do; we will consistently deliver 110% of our client’s expectations in every real estate transaction; we will become the standard by which all other brokerages are measured; we will be guided by Christian principles in every decision – Honesty, Integrity, Fairness and  Strength of Character will be our guideposts.

The bar is set high…and I love that!  Real estate is not rocket science.  It is a people business.  It is technology-driven in today’s market of smartphones and tablets. It is now world-wide rather than neighborhood specific, thanks to the internet. spaceman

Some things have changed over the years, but the core values that we need to have to help people with the biggest purchase many will ever make will never change. 

Benchmark Realty LLC – The New Standard in Real Estate Services. Even a real estate veteran like me gets excited about new opportunities, new “benchmarks” – no games…no hassles…just straight forward business people.  Come say hi at my new office in Midtown Nashville and let me show you why Nashville continues to be the “IT CITY” !  With great jobs, restaurants, arts, music and natural beauty, it’s the perfect place to be!

Nashville_skyline_2009 night web

Hoping you all have a peaceful, blessed and successful 2016.

Benchmark black logo small 314 x 116 Rosie 2013 red background

Rosie Mietzel

2500 21st Avenue South

Nashville, TN  37215

615-432-2919 office

615-249-8885 cell/text

rmietzel @ gmail.com  email

Posted in Benchmark, brentwood, brentwood homes for sale, brentwood real estate, buyers, cold, davidson county, for sale, franklin, franklin homes for sale, franklin real estate, gallatin, gallatin homes for sale, gallatin real estate, green hills, green hills houses for sale, green hills real estate, hendersonville, hendersonville homes for sale, hendersonville real estate, Hermitage, home buying blogs, home selling blogs, homes, homes for, homes for sale, houses, houses for sale, Midtown, moving, nashville, nashville homes for sale, nashville real estate, Old Hickory, real estate, real estate articles, real estate blogs, realtor, relocation, rosalie mietzel, rosie mietzel, sellers, sumner county, tennesee, tn, Uncategorized, unclassified, williamson county | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living More with Less!

Tiny House 1 web size For one family near Nashville, having less means living more.  Downsizing is opening up more time and resources to enjoy leisure and family life for a family that resides in probably one of the smallest homes in Middle Tennessee.  The 480-square foot house was featured on “The Tiny House Nation” TV show in May 2015, where local Gallatin-based Triple  B Construction partnered with the TV show to build the home in one week in March.  The tight time frame and weather challenged the builders, who worked around the clock during one of the winter’s coldest weeks.  When the house was revealed to the family, it poured all day, froze overnight and snowed the next morning, but since then, they have come to enjoy indoor/outdoor living.

Tiny House 2 web size The musical family (Nashville is “Music City”)  downsized from a 2,150 sq. ft. home, where they had always thought “bigger was better”. But with a bigger house comes more “stuff”.  I personally have had some very challenging clients where we had to find room for “all the stuff” instead of “getting rid of some of the stuff”.  Do they really need 3500 square feet for two people…and the big mortgage that usually goes with it?  Some do…but some don’t, as displayed here.

Living in a space 4-1/2 times smaller than their previous home had a learning curve…especially with 3 dogs and 3 cats and 3 people!  They still have a home office (that unfolds from the staircase which also incorporates a good size pantry). A framed mirror turns into a voice-activated smart TV.  They have a bathtub, but no microwave or dishwasher.   Chores are done daily in this one-story, loft-style home.

The tiny home movement is growing in popularity.  Three main reasons to do it are financial, environmental, and spiritual. When you go minimalist, you gain more time and money to do more things.  With less to heat, cool and clean comes financial stability and the ability to work less, spend more time with family, travel and do the things you want. You worry less…so  having less is actually having more…and living more!

Posted in brentwood, brentwood homes for sale, brentwood real estate, buyers, cost saving, davidson county, decorating, financing, for sale, franklin, franklin homes for sale, franklin real estate, gallatin, gallatin homes for sale, gallatin real estate, Go Green, green hills, green hills houses for sale, green hills real estate, heating, heating bills, hendersonville, hendersonville homes for sale, hendersonville real estate, Hermitage, home buying blogs, home selling blogs, homes, homes for, homes for sale, house decor, houses, houses for sale, keller williams, moving, nashville, nashville homes for sale, nashville real estate, Old Hickory, real estate, real estate articles, real estate blogs, realtor, relocation, rosalie mietzel, rosie mietzel, saving, saving money, sellers, staging, sumner county, tennesee, tn, unclassified, utility bills, williamson county | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Nashville Home Sales Post Double Digit Increase for Third Quarter!

Rymand Auditorium and Batman Building   There were 3,444 home closings reported for the month of September, according to figures provided by the Greater Nashville Association of REALTORS®. That number is up 10.3 percent from the 3,122 closings reported for the same period last year.

Third quarter numbers have increased from 2014 with 11,046 closings reported, which is 15% higher than last year’s third quarter closings of 9,606.  Year to date closings for the Greater Nashville area are up 13.3% from 2014.  The double-digit increases in home sales for the 3rd quarter and year-to-date are further proof of how strong the real estate market and the overall economy is in Middle Tennessee, said GNAR President  Cindy Stanton.

The median residential price for a single-family home in September was $236,866, and for a condo, it was $171,325.   Inventory is down by 2,000 units compared to September 2014.

  “Those who didn’t act during the summer shouldn’t be dissuaded, as fall is still a terrific time to buy or sell a home,” added Stanton. “For buyers, despite lower inventory, there are many great properties available and with likely less competition from other buyers as we enter fall. Those considering selling should take care of any repairs now, maintain their curb appeal and be sure the home is market ready.”

40272_HARVEST FARM Fall temperatures may be starting to cool off, but the real estate market is still hot, hot, hot!  burning-homes1

Posted in brentwood, brentwood homes for sale, brentwood real estate, buyers, cost saving, davidson county, financing, for sale, franklin, franklin homes for sale, franklin real estate, gallatin, gallatin homes for sale, gallatin real estate, Go Green, green hills, green hills houses for sale, green hills real estate, hendersonville, hendersonville homes for sale, hendersonville real estate, Hermitage, home buying blogs, home selling blogs, homes, homes for, homes for sale, house decor, houses, houses for sale, keller williams, moving, nashville, nashville homes for sale, nashville real estate, Old Hickory, real estate, real estate articles, real estate blogs, realtor, relocation, rosalie mietzel, rosie mietzel, saving money, sellers, sumner county, tennesee, tn, williamson county | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Home Buying Process in Plain English…

Have you been thinking about buying your first home, but intimidated by the process?  This series of 5 short videos from Realtor.com takes you through the entire process from deciding if the time is right to buy video-thumb-ready ,  to going through the mortgage/loan application process   video-thumb-mortgage101. to searching for the perfect home with a Realtor video-thumb-search, to making the offer    video-thumb-offer, to the closing process  video-thumb-closing.  Each video is short, funny, but quickly explains the steps needed to go from being a renter to being a happy homeowner! Click here for the videos…

Posted in brentwood, brentwood homes for sale, brentwood real estate, buyers, cost saving, davidson county, financing, for sale, franklin, franklin homes for sale, franklin real estate, gallatin, gallatin homes for sale, gallatin real estate, green hills, green hills houses for sale, green hills real estate, hendersonville, hendersonville homes for sale, hendersonville real estate, Hermitage, home buying blogs, homes, homes for, homes for sale, houses for sale, keller williams, moving, nashville, nashville homes for sale, nashville real estate, Old Hickory, real estate, real estate articles, real estate blogs, realtor, relocation, rosalie mietzel, rosie mietzel, saving, saving money, sellers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anchor Yourself to Something Truly Special…

I had to share with you all this new listing that I was so privileged to represent!  I was told by the owners when they invited me over, that I would feel like I was in a seafood restaurant.  So I was prepared for whatever unfolded when I went to preview their home before preparing a Comparative Market Analysis.  And this is what I saw from the street when I pulled up – just a well-kept home in a stable neighborhood.  Exterior center shot

I knew it was a 3 bedroom/2 bath, built in 1987, with 1222 square feet from the tax records.  I was familiar with the area, that generally sold in the high $140,000 range for similar homes, and was conveniently located within 15 minutes of downtown Nashville and the airport.  And this is what I saw when the front door opened…

Living room 1 from door  It truly was an OMG moment…and I instantly fell in love with this home.  The owner greeted me with a huge smile, and guided me through the home room by room.  My jaw just kept dropping lower as I took it all in – the new vanities with glass vessel sinks and waterfall faucets (did I mention heated tile floors?)  hall bath hall bath sink closeup  master BA snk and fixture, the beautiful remodeled kitchen with granite and subway tile and new glass light fixtures kitchen sink and laundry room kitchen stove and window kitchen towards sink.

Even on the wall of the living room (besides the suspended mermaid) mermaid closeup with net Living Room 2 from window, the owner pointed out the unique wall shelf boat on wall 1  , as she shared the story of how she and her husband had found an old boat at a flea  market, chopped off the back 18″ and mounted it to the wall, added lights above and below, and created a unique wall décor.  I asked her what happened to the rest of the boat. She smiled, and said, “It’s out back next to the lighthouse and the pool.”

OK – I had to see more – I was hooked!  So as she opened the door to the rear yard, this was my first view… backyard deck, steps, awning, bar .  All I could get out was “WOW!!”  It was breathtaking.  The composite decking, the retractable blue & white stripped awnings, the bar with yellow & chrome bar stools.   bar with lights and yellow bar stools I noticed all the little lights along the steps and fences, and her only comment was, “You should see it at night…”

We walked around as she pointed out the lighthouse and dinghy (missing its rear) backyard boat and lighthouse, as she sweetly commented “the beacon on the lighthouse rotates and the 3 portholes on the dinghy light up at night. We even have the green light on the bow…”.

The pool was wonderful, with a dolphin fountain, 10′ deep diving end, seating areas all around, and water features creating a mesmerizing sound. Dolphin and water jets Pool full length pool with turtle and decking

So I had to go back and see it at night…and it was even more spectacular!

Boat at night  dolphin fountain at night purple backlight

So last week, we met to review pricing and agreed on a value.  Then I was so honored when they asked me, “So would you be willing to list our home?”  I couldn’t believe how humble these wonderful folks were, and how flattered I was that they would trust me with the marketing of their amazing residence.

We did the paperwork on Tuesday, had professional photos taken on Thursday, had the first showings on Sunday…and the floodgates opened with Realtors and buyers “having to see the mermaid house”.  In 3 days, we had over 30 private showings (no overlapping appointments, and everyone had an hour to take in all the fabulous upgrades), and set a deadline of this Thursday (tomorrow) at 7pm to open all offers.  I didn’t want anyone to miss out on having an opportunity to write an offer on this special forever home. I now have 4 offers, and another 2-4 coming in tomorrow before the deadline, so I am excited but saddened to know my relationship with this home will soon be coming to an end.  But the memories will live on forever and my friendship with the owners…who are moving to Delaware to be near the Atlantic Ocean, which they love so much, will last a lifetime!

It’s not always the “McMansions” that get all the attention.  This shows how a modest home in a modest neighborhood can be as spectacular as any home, anywhere.  It’s the love it has received, the memories it has created, that has made “this house a home…”

Posted in beach, brentwood, brentwood homes for sale, brentwood real estate, buyers, cost saving, davidson county, decorating, for sale, franklin, franklin homes for sale, franklin real estate, gallatin, gallatin homes for sale, gallatin real estate, Go Green, green hills, green hills houses for sale, green hills real estate, hendersonville, hendersonville homes for sale, hendersonville real estate, Hermitage, home buying blogs, home selling blogs, homes, homes for, homes for sale, house decor, houses, houses for sale, keller williams, moving, nashville, nashville homes for sale, nashville real estate, nautical, ocean, Old Hickory, real estate, real estate articles, real estate blogs, realtor, relocation, romance, rosalie mietzel, rosie mietzel, saving, saving money, sellers, staging, sumner county, tennesee, tn, unclassified, williamson county | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment