Monthly Archives: August 2018

Wells Fargo lays off 638 people as loan demand falls

ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 27, 2018 – Wells Fargo & Co. said it will lay off 638 people in its home mortgage division nationwide, including 137 people in Orlando.

The San Francisco-based lender gave notice to employees Thursday that it was making cuts in the Wells Fargo Home Mortgage department, a company spokeswoman said.

“After carefully evaluating market conditions and consumer needs, we are reducing 137 team members to better align with current volumes,” said a statement from Wells Fargo Central Florida spokeswoman Gabriela Lambertus.

Wells Fargo said it was providing 60 days of notice and that it was working with employees for other opportunities within the company.

Wells Fargo’s layoffs in its home mortgage division come with signs of a slowdown in home sales. The National Realtors Association Wednesday said U.S. home sales in July fell 0.7 percent in July.

“Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the real estate agent trade group. “Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out, or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market.”

New home sales also fell to a nine-month low, the U.S. Department of Commerce said Thursday.

Wells Fargo stock (NYSE: WFC) fell nearly 1 percent in trading Thursday to $58.62.

© 2018 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.), Kyle Arnold. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

NAR’s chief economist reflects on recession, future

WASHINGTON (August 27, 2018) – American financial and lending systems look vastly different nearly a decade after the defining moments of the Great Recession, thanks in part to safe and sound lending and regulatory policy reforms supported by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Today, home prices are at or approaching record highs in many markets, and mortgage default and foreclosure rates sit near historic lows.

Overall, the housing market has recovered from the financial crisis that began ten years ago, and the nation’s homeownership rate continues to inch higher. Although some regions have experienced sales declines in recent months, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says concerns about whether the housing market has peaked and is headed for another significant slowdown are unfounded.

He believes some of the nation’s most overheated real estate markets will see sales slowdowns in 2018, but says those are occurring because of insufficient supply and rapidly rising home prices rather than weak buyer demand, which is a more reliable indicator of a true slowdown.

This is a much better problem to have than a shortage of demand, which remains high across much of the country, says Yun.

“Over the past 10 years, prudent policy reforms and consumer protections have strengthened lending standards and eliminated loose credit, as evidenced by the higher than normal credit scores of those who are able to obtain a mortgage and near record-low defaults and foreclosures, which contributed to the last recession. Today, even as mortgage rates begin to increase and home sales decline in some markets, the most significant challenges facing the housing market stem from insufficient inventory and accompanying unsustainable home price increases,” Yun says.

Realtors across the nation say that a limited housing inventory hinders local market home sales. Inventory levels have fallen for three straight years, and multiple bidding is still prevalent on starter homes in many U.S. markets across. Some of the nation’s hottest housing markets – which include cities like Seattle and Denver – are said to be slowing, but drops in home sales can be connected directly to supply shortages and corresponding price increases.

“The answer is to encourage builders to increase supply – and there is a good probability for solid home sales growth once the supply issue is addressed,” Yun says. “Additional inventory will also help contain rapid home price growth and open up the market to prospective homebuyers who are consequently – and increasingly – being priced out. In the end, slower price growth is healthier price growth.”

While homebuilding increased 7.2 percent year-to-date in July, Yun contends that even more construction is needed to fill national shortages. Some unavoidable barriers stand in the way, but more deliberate and well intentioned policy decisions can help alleviate the housing shortages facing markets across the country.

“Rising material costs and labor shortages do not help builders to be excited about business,” Yun says. “The lumber tariff is a pure, unforced policy error that raises costs and limits job creations and more home building.”

As a result of those headwinds, Yun forecasts existing-home sales in 2018 to decrease 1.0 percent to 5.46 million – down from 5.51 million in 2017. Despite the expected drop in sales in some markets, home price growth should remain strong in markets across the country and increase about 5 percent on a nationwide basis.

In 2019, with an anticipated rise in inventory and moderate price growth, home sales should remain higher. Existing home sales are forecast to rise 2 percent in 2019, while home prices are expected to rise by 3.5 percent, Yun says.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®

Technology drives new opportunities in real estate

WASHINGTON – Aug. 27, 2018 – Disruptive technologies, such as the internet and advanced industries, are driving new opportunities in commercial real estate investment.

At the same time, commercial real estate (CRE) investors will need to face a new set of challenges coming from the speed of change and the struggle of existing infrastructure (virtual and built) to keep pace.

Following this, large-scale opportunities may emerge from higher out-migration from big cities due to affordability and livability, the urbanization of premier and emerging suburbs, the growing popularity of mixed-used properties with more recreation, shifting supply chain logistics bringing warehouse property to major population centers, and more frequent use of hotels for business and leisure travel in top employment hubs and at destination resorts, the firm said.

According to Clarion Partners, the key trends that would change the nature of commercial real estate investments would be:

  • Sharing economy platforms: the sharing economy encompasses the peer-to-peer (P2P) based activity of obtaining, giving, or sharing access to goods and services
  • E-commerce and omnichannel retail
  • Robotics and artificial intelligence: Automation would lead the fourth industrial revolution globally while labor-saving technologies, together with globalization, have led to the loss of millions of manufacturing and agriculture jobs over the last two decades, and major transformations lie ahead in additional industries
  • Self-driving or autonomous vehicles (AVS)
  • Fintech, including mobile banking and blockchain
  • Cloud computing and big data, which would increase demand for data center facilities which are specialized buildings housing IT infrastructure. Tech giants Amazon, Google, IBM, and Microsoft lead in cloud business
  • The future of the supply chain (drone delivery and 3D printing)

“New innovations will encompass virtually every aspect of our lives, including the way we reside, commute, work, shop and manufacture,” according to Tim Wang and Julia Laumont at Legg Masons property investment manager affiliate, Clarion Partners, in their recent paper. “These changes will inevitably alter the way we use CRE, as well as overall demand and we believe lead to the highest and best use of properties.”

Rapidly evolving innovations that capitalize on market inefficiencies will create both challenges and opportunities for CRE investors.

© 2018 MediaQuest Corp. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc.

1M first-time borrowers discover their identity stolen

COSTA MESA, Calif – Aug. 27, 201 – Imagine being a young adult trying to open a credit card or get a college loan, only to learn that your identity was stolen years earlier as a child. This scenario is becoming increasingly common.

In fact, more than 1 million children were victims of identity theft in 2017. To help parents take an important first step in protecting their children, Experian® is offering a free, one-time Child ID Scan, a service that can detect possible child identity theft and fraud.

The free scan checks if the Social Security number (SSN) for a child (under age 18) is associated with an Experian credit file. If a credit file is found, Experian’s Fraud Resolution team will assist the parent or legal guardian with the next steps.

To use Experian’s free Child ID Scan, go to For comprehensive, continued child identity monitoring, Experian IdentityWorks offers a Family Plan that monitors two adults and up to 10 children.

“A child’s SSN is like gold to identity thieves and a clean slate for criminals to do damage over possibly a long period of time,” says Michael Bruemmer, vice president of Consumer Protection at Experian. “We are vigilant when it comes to protecting people’s identities, and hope Child Identity Theft Awareness Day rallies communities and parents to take action. Our free service and educational content can be key resources, but we urge parents to be vigilant on an ongoing basis. If they aren’t, the consequences for their children can be damaging and long-term.”

Victims of child identity theft experience serious adult challenges – sometimes lasting years. A recent Experian survey found that 59 percent of survey respondents had their credit report and credit score negatively impacted, while 52 percent were denied credit.

More than one-third (34 percent) of victims surveyed said it cost them money to fix the issue, and almost 20 percent suffered relationship issues.

Key findings

  • On average, victims surveyed believe identity theft occurred when they were 12 years old – and even worse, almost half (45 percent) didn’t discover the theft until they were between the ages of 16 and 18, when they were most likely getting a first job or starting to apply for credit.
  • More than half (51 percent) of victims surveyed discovered it themselves, primarily when they applied for credit as an adult or when they received a bill or credit card in the mail – and 52 percent were denied credit at some point when they applied due to the theft.
  • The initial discovery of identity theft is just the beginning for victims. One out of 4 survey respondents was still dealing with issues more than 10 years after the fact.
  • The emotional impact of child identity theft is also severe: 35 percent of victims surveyed have sought professional help in dealing with related stress, anxiety, anger or depression related to the theft; 68 percent said they are fearful it could happen to them again, while 65 percent are angry about the credit roadblocks they have faced.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®

If you must lose your phone, here’s how to do it

NEW YORK – Aug. 27, 2018 – On a recent trip to London, Logan Abbott’s phone disappeared. Although he’s one of thousands of travelers whose gadgets go missing on the road, his story is remarkable.

That’s because Abbott is the CEO of, a company that helps consumers select a cellphone calling plan – an industry insider. You’d think a sophisticated phone user such as him would know how to prevent a loss. But it turns out anyone can lose a phone, even Abbott. The trick is in the recovery.

More than 29 million phones vanish each year according to Asurion, a company that insures smartphones, tablets and other electronics. Only 50 percent of people back up the data on their devices, and 28 percent of users said if they lost their gadget they would never be able to recover the data on it, according to research from Kaspersky, a cybersecurity and antivirus company.

If you lose your phone when you travel, you can take quick steps to recover it. And if you fail, you can at least restore your data and find a new device quickly.

Abbott’s recovery plan was simple but effective. “I went to the Apple Store and bought a new iPhone,” he says. “Because I do daily backups to iCloud and my laptop, I was able to get back up and running with all my data without skipping a beat.”

His advice? Remember to do a daily backup of your data.

“It’s also critical that you have a passcode on your phone so that whoever finds it can’t access the data on your phone,” he adds.

If your phone’s gone, you’ll want to go through the painful process of remotely wiping and bricking it. Call your mobile carrier as soon as you confirm your phone is lost so that they can disable the account. That way, you won’t be responsible for any data use or phone calls made after the loss.

Replacing the phone is pretty straightforward. Just visit the nearest phone store, buy a replacement, get a new SIM card – a smart card inside the phone that identifies you – attach the phone and SIM to your account, and you’re back online. Mobile companies have different requirements. For example, AT&T requires a number called the IMEI and the SIM card serial number to activate a new phone. T-Mobile needs the SIM card number.

“Data recovery is a different story,” says Andy Abramson, a frequent traveler who runs a Los Angeles communications agency.

Apple’s iOS backs up to iCloud all the time, but it’s not automatic. You have to set it up to perform the regular backup. If you’re on Google’s Android, everything is already backed up to the cloud, so you have to get online, and your contacts and data are synched. Abramson says it’s important to understand your phone’s backup mechanism before you travel, instead of trying to figure it out it after you’ve lost your phone.

Keep your cellphone close. At home, you can leave it lying around, but on the road, one careless moment could lead to a permanent loss. One solution is a new product called a Murray Belt ($50), a belt worn around the upper body that allows you convenient access to your phone and other travel documents. “I wanted to develop a product that would provide a habitual location to keep my phone and put my mind at ease while I’m on the road,” Murray Belt inventor Margaret Murray Bloom says.

Another storage idea: The PortaPocket WaistBelt & Pocket Kit ($26.95), a belt with interchangeable modules for storing your valuables.

If your phone goes missing, don’t panic, says Lysa Myers, a security researcher at ESET, an antivirus software company. Your first step should always be to “text or call your phone,” she advises. “That way, if it’s not really lost but just stuck in the couch cushions or something, you can locate it quickly.”

There’s one foolproof way to avoid the panic that happens after you lose your phone when you travel. “Carry a spare phone,” says Andrea Woroch, a consumer expert.

That’s what I do. My kids inherited my old Pixel phone, and if I lose my phone, I’ll borrow theirs.

How to find your phone

  • Activate “find my phone“: On Android, you can go to the Find My Device page to retrieve the last known location of your device, but you have to activate the feature. Apple’s Find My iPhone feature works similarly.
  • Use a tracker: One of the most popular trackers, Tile, works by connecting to your phone. But the device also has the reverse ability to find your phone.
  • Try lost and found: It’s not your father’s lost-and-found department. Companies such as Crowdfind are using sophisticated technology to catalog found items and help track down owners. Airports such as the one in Salt Lake City use Crowdfind to allow airport patrons to search the inventory at any time. You can verify ownership by giving a password to the device.

Copyright 2018,, USA TODAY. Christopher Elliott is a consumer advocate.

Should agents wear body cams?

ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 27, 2018 – In May, the Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA) struck a partnership to help its members receive a discounted rate on body cams for only $129 from Occly Blinc.

The camera can capture nearly 280-degree views of a user’s surroundings and transmit live video and audio and location information. An emergency alarm button also will automatically notify designated contacts and authorities if something goes wrong.

“The upswing in real estate professionals as targets for crime of all sorts is really just intolerable, and I’m committed to taking solid steps to address it,” says ORRA President Lou Nimkoff. “Agents routinely put themselves in vulnerable positions throughout the practice of real estate, from hosting open houses to meeting up with potential clients. The body cam – plus its alarm and alerting features – can offer both evidence-gathering and, just as important, prevention. If a body cam only helps make the wearer more alert to their surroundings, I’ll consider it a win.”

However, Tampa, Fla.-based real estate safety instructor John Graden of Cobra-Defense says agents should never entrust their safety completely to a gadget, smartphone app, or GPS locator.

“A body camera could serve as a deterrent, particularly if it was feeding a recording to an offsite location,” says Graden. “But if it’s just recording there and not being transmitted, then there’s nothing to stop the criminal from attacking you and running off with your camera.”

He suggests that brokerages invest in portable surveillance cameras to set up at open houses and stream the footage back to the office. However, agents should be aware of all local or state laws that pertain to the use of surveillance devices before deciding to use one.

Source: Realtor (08/18) Tracey, Melissa Dittmann

© Copyright 2018 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

The Women In Real Estate Conference is sold out!

Facebook will nix 5,000 targeted-advertising functions

The social network will no longer allow advertisers to limit the people who will view their ad based on a viewer’s ethnicity or religion. HUD alleged last week in an administrative complaint that Facebook’s targeting system violated the Fair Housing Act.

Source: Reprinted with permission: Florida Realtors(R). All rights reserved
Reprinted with permission Florida Realtors. All rights reserved.

Fla.'s home sales, new listings, median prices up in July

Existing single-family home sales up 3.8% from year ago, median price up 6.3% to $255K; condo sales up 8.5%, median price up 5.3% to $180K. Also: Modest increase in new listings a positive sign for buyers, though inventory still tight in many areas.

Source: Reprinted with permission: Florida Realtors(R). All rights reserved
Reprinted with permission Florida Realtors. All rights reserved.

ATTOM: Fla. foreclosure starts up 35% in July

A multi-month trend suggests that foreclosure numbers bottomed out and are now rising again, based in part on looser lending regulations. Fla. tops ATTOM’s list for foreclosure starts, with notable increases in Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando and Cape Coral.

Source: Reprinted with permission: Florida Realtors(R). All rights reserved
Reprinted with permission Florida Realtors. All rights reserved.