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Welcome Amy Gervasi

We are excited to announce that Amy Gervasi has joined Homestead Title as our newest closing officer. Amy has over 20 years of real estate experience as a Realtor, lender, and closing officer. She has developed strong relationships and friendships with past clients and colleagues from her experience in the real estate and lending fields. Amy is passionate about home ownership and loves helping people achieve that goal. This passion shows in her commitment to making each client feel like they have a friend who cares about their purchase, sale, or transaction.

Amy grew up in Madison, graduating from Memorial High School. She attended college in Atlanta, GA and finished her education at UW Madison. During college, she was hooked by the Real Estate bug and has been in the field ever since. She lives in Verona and is married to Dwight, an IT geek with a great sense of humor, for almost 20 years. They have 4 kids that keep her hopping between sports, school events, and sleepovers.

Those who have worked with Amy know her to be an outstanding, caring, professional who makes Homestead Title an even better place to close. We are proud to welcome Amy into our Homestead family!

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Homestead Title will be closed on Thursday, December 20, due to the winter storm.


Our staff will be available by email most of the day.

We appreciate your understanding and wish you luck digging out!

Your friends at Homestead Title

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State of Wisconsin Accidentally Releases Social Security Numbers

Many Wisconsin residents who sold their homes last year are receiving ominous looking letters from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR). The letters warn that the DOR is “taking precautions to protect confidential information pertaining to your 2011 real estate sale.” Specifically, the state inadvertently included social security numbers in sales data that is routinely posted on their website. This data is intended for use by appraisers and Realtors to track property sales and values. The information remained on the site from April 5 through July 23, 2012 and only related to 2011 real estate sales.

The data was included in an embedded file (it was not readily apparent or readable) and was only downloaded 138 times. The State insists that there is no sign that criminals accessed the information. “We have a responsibility to protect the sellers who had their personal information included in the report, and we have reached out to the real estate and appraiser organizations to contact their members to destroy the file. We know the individuals who downloaded this file are using it for their own business purposes and have no malicious intent, yet we will be offering free credit monitoring for a year for the individuals who may have been impacted by this situation,” said Secretary Richard G. Chandler.

The DOR has been mailing letters to sellers that may have been impacted and offering them one year of free credit monitoring. Sellers can also contact the DOR directly at 888-947-3452 or realestate@wisconsin.gov.

For more information, see:

http://www.revenue.wi.gov/news/20120724_01.pdf

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Recently, a number of REALTORs in Wisconsin received emails to inform them of Better Business Bureau complaints. The emails may include official logos and request that the REALTOR open the complaint report. The emails often take the following form:

 

Good afternoon,

Here with the Better Business Bureau would like to notify you that we have been sent a complaint (ID 44265713) from your customer related to their dealership with you. Please open the COMPLAINT REPORT {WEBLINK OMMITTED} below to find the details on this case and suggest us about your point of view as soon as possible. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

 

Sincerely,

 

Fernando Grodhaus

Dispute Counselor

Better Business Bureau

 

This is NOT a real complaint and you should NOT open the link.

In all likelihood, this is a phishing scam or a virus. Most scams can be identified by the poor grammar or deplorably bad writing. The Better Business Bureau, for instance, is unlikely to request that you “Suggest us about your point of view” or state that your customer has a complaint about their “dealership with you.”

Whenever you receive a questionable email like this, the easiest tool to discover a scam is Google or another search engine. Try a Google search of portions of the email or of the author’s name. In this case, we discovered this to be a scam.

Google Search

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It is conventional wisdom that the best time to close a home sale is at the end of the month. Closing at the end of the month means buyers bring less cash to closing. While closing at the end of the month might be more convenient for buyers, it can result in a hefty penalty for Sellers who need to pay off FHA loans. Realtors, attorneys, and sellers need to plan carefully when the seller has an FHA mortgage.

Most mortgages will charge interest for each day that the mortgage goes unpaid. The only extra costs to closing later in the month, or into the next month, are the added day(s) of interest. FHA Mortgages, on the other hand, charge interest in one month chunks. One full month of interest is due, without refund, on the 1st day of each month. Closing on the first few days of the month will result in paying for a full month of interest even thought the seller no longer owns the property. So, it would appear to be best to close on the last day of the month.

Not so fast. A seller that closes on the last day of the month may not be able to get their FHA payoff to the bank until the 2nd or 3rd day of the next month. This will result in a hefty, non-refundable, one-month interest penalty. And the title company may not be able to wire out funds immediately after closing to meet the end-of-month deadline. Wire deadlines range from 1pm to 3pm. In addition, wires that arrive at the receiving bank after 3pm will not be credited until the next business day. And wires can take many hours to travel from one bank to another.

If you know your seller has an FHA mortgage that is being paid off, make sure to schedule closing with at least one business day remaining after closing. This will be a quieter time for the title company and lender, will mean less volume and more attention to your file, and will prevent that nasty, one-month interest “penalty.”

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At least three major lenders have suspended foreclosures in nearly two dozen states, including Wisconsin. Allegations of misconduct and flawed practices in foreclosure lawsuits prompted GMAC, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase to put the brakes on foreclosures and halt post-foreclosure REO sales of properties in at least 23 states. Indeed, many title insurers have also suspended issuing title insurance policies for REO sales from these companies. Now, according to the New York Times, lawmakers in Washington and many states are calling for a freeze on all foreclosures. Foreclosure Furor Rises; Many Call for a Freeze, Oct 5, 2010.

At issue are flawed or false affidavits – sworn statements by the lenders’ employees who were to have reviewed the files for accuracy and correct documentation. Rather than actually review the files, these companies allegedly used “robo-signers” — employees who signed thousands of affidavits per month with no knowledge of the content and, in many cases, without even bothering to read the Affidavits.

Some Affidavits dealt with lost or missing assignment of mortgages. The bank that made the original loan often assigned or sold their loan to another bank. That bank, the new owner of the mortgage, must prove to the court that they have standing to file the foreclosure action; in other words, they are the proper party with an appropriate interest to foreclose.  They need to produce the original Assignment of Mortgage document as proof. During the hay-day of loose lending practices, many banks lost or even never had the original Assignment of Mortgage documents.

The solution: sign an affidavit that swears that the bank keeps original documents like this and the signer can’t find the original after a thorough search and investigation for the lost affidavit.

The problem: the person signing that affidavit allegedly never made a thorough investigation and has no knowledge of the file. How could he when he signed thousands every month.

In most foreclosures, the home owner never contests the foreclosure action because the homeowner had stopped paying many months earlier. These flawed affidavits usually present only procedural flaws, not real defenses on the merits. Thus, they likely only serve to slow the process and delay the inevitable.  In some cases, however, the injustice may rise beyond a lack of due process. 

No one knows the affect that this temporary moratorium will have on the real estate market or the foreclosure crisis. Yet, it certainly has created more risk and costs for lenders during the foreclosure process.  One affect may be to encourage lenders to seek foreclosure alternatives, such as short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure. Only time will tell.

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Congress Extends the Deadline to CLOSE

Last year, Congress passed a tax credit for first time homebuyers and many “long-time” homebuyers. This credit provided for two deadlines:

  • Receive a binding offer to purchase on or before April 30, 2010
  • Close the sale on or before June 30, 2010.

Lenders, title companies, and real estate professionals worked feverishly to close transactions before that June 30th deadline. All the while congress was working (less feverishly, we are sure) to pass an extension of the bill.

Hours before it was set to expire, the Senate finally approved an extension to the June 30 closing deadline for the homebuyer tax credit, The move will give buyers who signed a purchase agreement by April 30 more time to close and still receive the tax credit of up to $8,000. Once signed by the President, the new deadline will be Sept. 30, 2010.

This extension will benefit those home-buyers who’s deals stalled or financing ran into trouble.  Many homebuyers could not close on short-sales or other distressed properties because of delays in lender approval.  The extension will be a welcome relief to those buyers.


Buyers, Realtors, and other professionals should be aware that this extension only affects home buyers who are in a binding contract that was signed before May 2010. It will not benefit those potential homebuyers who are still shopping for a home.
Interest Rates at Historic Lows

Nevertheless, today’s unprecedented interest rates may amount to a savings almost equal to the tax credit. Indeed, in January, a home-buyer might have locked in on a 30 Year Mortgage at 5.4%, a wonderfully low rate by historical standards. Today, that same 30 Year Mortgage might be at 4.6%. On a $200,000 mortgage, this amounts to a monthly savings of about $97.75 or $4,600 in just four years. While the tax credit might not be available for those still shopping for a home, the savings are still there.

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