Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

We are excited to introduce our new office at:

555 Zor Shrine Place, Suite 120

Move Annoucement

We look forward to seeing you at closing!

waiting room

conf room

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Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Check out these trick-or-treat safety tips and please consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. You can find more info about that by clicking on the link above.

Here’s a list of the hours/events for Trick-or-Treating:

Cottage Grove: 10/31/17: 4:30 – 7 PM

Madison: 10/31/17: 4-8 PM

Downtown Madison: 10/25/17: 3-6 PM at participating Businesses!

Monona: 10/27/17 from 5:45-7 PM @Winnequah Park

McFarland: 10/31/17: 4-8 PM (No set hours)

Oregon: 10/31/17: 5-8 PM

Stoughton: 10/28/17: 3-5 PM Downtown Trick-or-Treating

Sun Prairie: 10/31/17: 5-7 PM

Verona: 10/31/17: 5-8 PM

Waunakee: 10/31/17: 5-7 PM 

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Spring is finally here! These neighborhood-organized rummage sales are a great opportunity to score some bargains.  It’s also a great opportunity to see how much Madison has to offer. Check out the full list HERE of all the local neighborhood garage sales happening around MadTown!

Have fun and enjoy!

Date Event Location
May 11 – May 13 Oregon Community Wide Garage Sale Oregon, WI
May 11 – May 13


Waunakee Garage Sale Days Waunakee, WI
May 13, 2017 Nakoma Garage Sale


Nakoma Neighborhood
May 18May 20 Hawks Landing Hawks Landing Neighborhood
May 19 – May 20 Deforest/Windsor City Wide Garage Sale Deforest/Windsor, WI
May 19 – May 20


Wexford Village Garage Sale Wexford Village Neighborhood
May 19 – May 20 Spring Harbor Neighborhood


5156 – 5148 Spring Court
May 19 – May 20 Blackhawk Garage Sale


Blackhawk Neighborhood
June 3, 2017 Emerson East Garage Sale Emerson East Neighborhood


June 3, 2017 Marquette Neighborhood Garage Sale Marquette Neighborhood


June 2 – June 3 Hill Farms Garage Sale


Hill Farms Neighborhood
June 8 – June 10


Portage Citywide Garage Sale Portage, WI

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Spring is finally here and it’s time to get planting! If you are selling a home, a beautiful garden can add curb appeal. If you’re staying put, a garden can add to your home’s value, the sustainability of your property, and your happiness. If you know of another, upcoming plant sale in the Madison area, let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

Homestead Title takes pride in being green and sustainable. Every year we provide a list of local garden sales in the Madison area. Enjoy!

Date Location Event
May 12th, 11am-5pm Olbrich Gardens Plant Sale with the Pros: Olbrich Gardens annual fundraiser.
May 13th-9am-3pm Olbrich Gardens Plant Sale with the Pros: Olbrich Gardens: annual fundraiser.
May 13th, 10am-2pm Troy Community Farm: 502 Troy Drive Spring Plant Sale: All plants Certified Organic.
May 11, 9am-2pm UW Arboretum Visitor Center Native Plant Sale
May 13th, TBD Shorewood Hills Garden Club: 1008 Shorewood Blvd Plant and Mulch Sale
May 13, 9am-2pm Oregon Garden Club: 8th Annual Oregon Garden Club Charitable Plant Sale
May 13, 8:30am-11am Mound Vue Garden Club: 709 Brookstone Crst Mound Vue Garden Club Plant Sale
May 12 – May 13 West Side Garden Club: 3918 Nakoma Rd West Side Garden Club Plant Sale
May 21, 2017 Master Gardener Plant Sale: 1 Fen Oak Ct.  Master Gardener Plan Sale


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Madison Farmers’ Markets

Spring is finally here and it’s time to get outside and enjoy the Wisconsin weather. Homestead Title takes pride in being green, sustainable, and local. Each year we provide a list of the local Farmers’ Markets for you to check out. Happy Spring!

Farmers’ Markets in Madison When Where

Eastside Farmers’ Market 

Tuesdays 4pm -7pm April to October Central Park

Capital View Farmers’ Market

Wednesdays 3pm -7Pm June to October 5901 Sharpsburg Dr.

UW Health at The American Center

Tuesdays 2pm – 5pm June to October 4602 Eastpark Blvd

Wednesday Markets

Wednesdays 8:30am -2pm April to November 200 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Saturday Market on the Square Saturdays 7:30am – 12pm April to November Monona Terrace

Union South Farmers’ Market

Thursdays 10am -2pm September to October 1308 W. Dayton St

UW Health at University Hospital

Thursdays 2pm -5pm May to October 1111 Highland Avenue

Northside Farmers’ Market

Sundays 8:30am – 12:30pm May to October

Northside Town Center


Rimrock Road Market

Mondays 2pm – 6pm June to October 2524 Rimrock Road

Hilldale Farmers’ Market

Wednesdays and Saturdays 7am – 1pm May to November Hilldale Mall

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Cyber-fraud is a constant, growing problem especially prevalent in the Real Estate industry. This post examines “Spoofed” emails and how to recognize them.  A video tutorial of this post can be seen here.

Scammers create fake emails that look like they came from a bank, title company, or Realtor. Clicking links in the email may download viruses, take you to malicious sights, or convince you to enter passwords or send money.

Always be suspicious of any email that asks you to click on a link, enter a password, provide personal information, or send money.  

Never send money until you call the contact at a phone number NOT provided in that email.

One recent scam involved a common Email Encryption program used by many banks and title companies called ZixCorp.  ZixCorp is a legitimate service that Homestead and other companies use for secure email . Fake or “spoofed” ZixCorp emails look exactly like a bank or title company has sent you a secure or encrypted email. How can you tell the fake from the real thing?

Click Here for a Short Video on how to detect Spoofed Email: https://www.screencast.com/t/0ItwBtOVKCm


Here’s how to recognize a fake or spoofed email:

1.  The Subject line is empty, vague, or unrelated to you. A statement that you have received a “secure message” is too vague.

cyberfraud12.  The email of the sender is not quite right. For example, if you receive an email from Microsoft, you should not open it if the address is @mxll2.microsoft.com.  The random letters at the beginning are sure sign of fraud. The ZixCorp message was harder to detect.  The scammer added ‘S’s in the name: @zixcorpmesssagescenters.com.

3.  The Link has a fake hyperlink. Always hover your cursor over a link before clicking — it will show you where you will be taken.

cyberfraud24.  There are grammatical or typographical errors. An email with errors is a red flag of potential fraud.

You can safely open emails from ZixCorp – the real emails are safe and secure.  The trick is recognizing the fakes.  If you have any suspicions or are unsure, always call the company that sent you the email.  Find their number in your contacts or their website, not on the suspicious email.  And, never wire any money without first calling to confirm all information.  Scammers used spoofed emails to try to convince people to wire money. Once the money is sent, it is usually gone to a foreign country and impossible to return.

Be cautious, vigilant, and safe.

Homestead Title

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Schemes, Scams, & Frauds

It seems like fraud attempts have spiked in the last 3 months. We have seen each of these scams either sting us or Realtors with whom we work:

  1. Toner Scam: Your company gets a call from your copier service company confirming your correct copier ID and that your shipment of toner is late, but on the way. A week after the shipment arrives, the invoice will arrive. It is from Supply World, Inc., IDC Servco, or some other company and is for 10-15 times the price of your product. If you’re not careful someone will pay the invoice. The scam starts with an earlier call in which the scammer asks to confirm your copier ID number, make and model. They might call later and get more information, such as the name of the person in charge of orders. Now, the hook is set and they can call with all of the information that makes them appear to be your legitimate servicer.
  2. Phishing and Malware Attacks: These are all over the internet – emails with malicious links or files. The key is that they are so well targeted to your business or interests that it can be very hard to tell the scam from the real thing.
  3. Microsoft Hacker Scam:   A “Microsoft representative” calls to tell you’re your computer is signaling their servers that the updates are not running properly.  This is causing trouble on their end and slowing down your computer (your computer is running slow, who’s isn’t).  They provide the Microsoft Webpage, you log in and give access to your computer, and they’re off!  You just gave a hacker access to your computer.  The call was fake, the website an authentic mimic, and the hackers job too easy.
  4. Advertising Scam: A number of local service providers fell pray to a scam in which a company sells advertising space on a prominent Realtor’s marketing materials. For $1500, their company can advertise on the folders that the Realtor gives to customers and clients at closing. The catch: The Realtor never agreed to this, the company has no plans on printing real folders, and the whole operation is just a scam. The parties lost their money and the innocent Realtor’s reputation took a potential hit with angry business owners feeling burned.

To Avoid these and other scams, here are a few simple rules:

  • NEVER provide private information that is solicited over the phone or by email.  Credit Card Companies, Banks, and vendors will never ask for this information when they contact you.  If you call a trusted number, then it is ok to give information.  Examples:
    • Credit Card Fraud:  You may receive calls alerting you of fraud on your account. Do not link to the site in the email and do not call the number provided.  Call the number on the back of your card!
    • Bank Account Issues:  You may receive email of phone alerts about problems with your bank account. Often the emails are incredibly authentic.  Do not link to the email or open any attachments.  Call the number from your own records or your local representative.
    • Toner Scam:  The key to this scam are the first phone calls asking for seemingly harmless information.  Often, the first call is just to “confirm” the copier ID number or the make and model.  Do not give this out. More importantly, all staff should be aware of this scam and avoid agreeing over the phone to anything relating to toner or computer supplies and avoid sending payment for any questionable item.
  • Computer Scams:
    • Microsoft Update Scam:  NEVER give access to your computer to anyone other than a person you have chosen to hire. If they call you, don’t give any information, access to information and certainly don’t allow them remote access to your computer.
    • Phishing Scams:  Don’t open any attachments you are not expecting or links.  An email with nothing but a hyper-link is not linking to something “Awesome” or “Interesting” or anything else.  It’s a virus, malware, etc.  Be especially wary of .zip and .exe files.
  • Advertising Scam: This scam can often be avoided with a simple Google search. Before committing to contracts or payments with unknown parties, do your research. It is as easy as a Google search. If the first page of Google is filled with Ripoff Report.com; bbb.org; snopes.com and complaintsboard.com, your are likely the target of a scam.

Much of this is easier said than done. Scammers are sophisticated and constantly adjusting to appear legitimate. Simply being aware of the scams will keep your radar up for red flags. Be skeptical and curious, do your research, and be cautious of these scams and you have a better chance of avoiding them.

Finally, don’t be embarrassed and don’t hide your story.  Share it with others in your organization and elsewhere.  Knowledge and awareness is the best way to shut these scams down.

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Homestead Title Company would like to end the year on a high note. We bring you some good real estate news and wishes for a happy and prosperous 2013!

2012 – Year in Review

The past year has seen a surprising rebound in housing. While the general economy sputtered, housing was aided by historically low interest rates, growing demand, and increasing home prices. Interest rates on 30 year mortgages fell below 4% to unheard of lows. Indeed, for most of the 2nd half of the year, borrows (with strong credit) could find 30 year mortgages with rates near 3.3%. Low interest rates have led to a surge in refinance activity and made it easier to purchase.

As Mortgage rates plunged, 2012 also saw an increase in housing prices. One contributing factor may be the combination of stronger demand and a decline in supply. There are fewer houses for sale, in part, because banks have slowed the foreclosure process and regulated the flood of steeply discounted, distressed homes. (See Home Prices have Hit a Milestone, Wall Street Journal). Locally, we have not seen a steep decline in new foreclosure filings – Wisconsin foreclosure filings increased by 2.3% this year. Nevertheless, the percentage of home sales related to foreclosure has steeply declined in the last 12 months. (See Distressed Property Index). The combination of lower supply, lower interest rates, and increased demand has led to a much needed rebound in housing prices. And, locally, housing sales were up throughout most of the summer.

Homestead Title had a fantastic 2012! Our sales increased by 32% over last year and our team grew by 40%. We added Lena Kelley, Whitney Hobson, Kristi Roth, and Kayla Willems. They combine for over 3 decades of title experience. More importantly, they make our team stronger and more experienced than we’ve ever been.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to our success, trusted us with their transactions, and shared in our success. We look forward to another fantastic year in 2013.

Happy New Year!


Homestead Title Company

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Easier Short Sales?

Fannie Mae And Freddie Mac Announce New Short Sale Guidelines


Fannie Mae and Freddie MAC announced new short sale guidelines designed to streamline the short sale process. The new guidelines streamline documentation requirements, waive deficiencies for borrowers that successfully complete a short sale and standardize payments to other lien holders. In addition, servicers will be able to approve many short sales without having to seek individual approval from Fannie Mae.

This will hopefully provide further relief to the distressed real estate market.

These new guidelines will bring a number of improvements, such as:

  • Homeowners who are fully current on their payments can receive short sale approval if they have certain hardships, such as death of either borrower, divorce, illness, or a distant employment transfer;
  • Fannie Mae is significantly reducing the documentation necessary for approval;
  • The guidelines set a firm limit on how much 2nd and third lien holders (subordinate lien holders) can receive. By setting a standard $6,000 limit, all lien holders will have a fixed expectation and understanding of what they might receive;
  • Special consideration for military personnel with Permanent Change of Station (PCS);

These guidelines become active November 1, 2012. For more information, link to:


Homestead Title is always available to offer insights and solutions to Wisconsin Realtors, Attorneys, and homeowners with short sale questions.




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Bank of America (BAC) introduced a new Third Party Authorization for all short sales. Almost all banks require their customers to give written authorization to any third parties who might seek information about an account. In short sales, this means that realtors, attorneys, title companies, and negotiators need to receive authorization before they can speak with the bank about the short sale.

Bank of America’s new Third Party Authorization (TPA) became mandatory on April 14, 2012. This form only allows licensed real estate agents, real estate brokers and attorneys to become designated agents. Thus, the form excludes title companies, third party negotiators, or other parties who are not licensed. This form is problematic for a few reasons.

Title Company Authorization

As a title company that specializes in short sales, we often (usually) need to contact the lender at some point in the transaction. The title company often needs to confirm final numbers or “tweak” the payoff to meet underwriting and insuring guidelines. Or we simply need to confirm that funds were received. This new form will prohibit the title company from making any of those inquiries. We have experience convincing representatives to give us what we need. But, we occasionally get stymied by stubborn bank representatives. This form does not help.


The new Authorization form also requires each designated representative to acknowledge that they will not knowingly misrepresent or omit any material facts if Bank of America or its investors would not have agreed to the short sale had they know those facts. While agents and attorneys should already be erring on the side of full disclosure, this may heighten their duties. For instance, if the short sale buyer is an investor or involved in a “flip” and has a buyer lined up at a higher price, Bank of America would probably consider this a material fact that cannot be omitted. This form expands liability for misrepresentation or omissions from the parties to the Realtors and representatives.

How to Use this Form With Title Companies or Unlicensed Individuals

It is not clear whether BAC intentionally limited this form to licensed Realtors and Attorneys. Perhaps they intend to exclude title companies and third party negotiators? BAC representatives have advised us to simply sign the form and “don’t worry about the license thing.” Homestead Title will not sign this form for the obvious reasons that (1) we cannot acknowledge that we are licensed realtors or attorneys and (2) we do not wish to slow down the already plodding pace of a short sale by signing a form without all information filled in (leaving the license portion blank).

Until BAC revises this form, title companies will simply need to rely upon Realtors and Attorneys to communicate with BAC.


Peter Zarov is a licensed attorney in Wisconsin and the president of Homestead Title. Mr. Zarov has handled all aspects of distressed property transactions on behalf of owners, lenders, borrowers, and Realtors. He provides guidance to Realtors and Attorneys on distressed property transactions in Wisconsin.

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