DRE Consumer Alert Regarding Wire Fraud in Real Estate Transactions

Real estate transactions in today’s world often involve the wiring or electronic funds transfer (EFT) of money to complete a deal. Previous consumer alerts have referenced or covered wire fraud in timeshare transactions and fraud against seniors.

Wire transfers and EFT’s in real estate purchase transactions have become the targets of criminals who interject themselves into a real estate transaction by posing as a party in the transaction. In these cases, the criminal often takes on the identity of a title or escrow company or real estate agent in the transaction and provides legitimate-looking instructions directing the buyer where to wire or transfer funds. These instructions result in the wiring or transfer of funds to the criminal’s bank account, often overseas, and the immediate loss of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of dollars to the victim.

These are sophisticated, professional-looking attacks on your real estate transactions, and you need to be on the lookout. Cyber criminals may convincingly take on the identity of legitimate parties to your transaction, using authentic-looking logos and personal details in communications, in order to make you or your clients feel comfortable. It is best to be safe in how you respond, and to assume that your transaction is being targeted. 
What can you and your clients do to avoid such criminal activity?

1. Whenever possible, use alternatives to wire transfers or EFT’s, such as cashier’s checks, and get a receipt. For smaller transactions, make the payment in person by check or credit card and get a receipt, as these payment sources provide you with proof of payment.

2. Obtain phone numbers and account numbers of real estate agents and escrow-holders at the beginning of the real estate transaction, and use those numbers throughout the transaction.

3. Even if it looks or sounds legitimate, do not act on a change of wiring or EFT instructions that you receive electronically (via e-mail) or via phone call. If your real estate transaction will utilize wiring or EFT of funds, and you (or your client) receive an instruction change about wiring or EFT of funds, call the real estate agent or escrow officer by phone at the known number you obtained at the start of the transaction and verify new instructions before sending money. Better yet, if there is a wiring or EFT instruction change, instead make payment in person using cashier’s check!

4. Do not send personal information (bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and financial details) by personal e-mail or text. Take steps to use a secure, encrypted site to send personal information, or provide this information in person.

If you (or your clients) are victimized, it is critical that you or your client contact your depository institution and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) immediately in order to have a chance at halting the criminal transfer. File a report with the FBI by calling a local FBI office or reporting online at FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.  Their web site is: bec.ic3.gov

Previous consumer alerts:

Timeshare transactions:


Fraud against seniors:


Source: dre.ca.gov

We're Launching LOS ANGELO PROPERTIES logo.

Ask Los Angelo! This is the first thing that comes to mind when Angelo's clients need advice about properties in the Los Angeles area. Angelo's intimate knowledge of Los Angeles property sites specifically in Westside, Studio City, Sherman Oaks and Encino Hills has earned him this clever nickname. It is just apt that we prominently feature the "Los Angelo" nickname in our newly-launched logo as a testament to Angelo's proven expertise in Los Angeles real estate.




John Aaroe Group - Foundations

To Stage or Not to Stage?

This is a great article on why staging, in most cases, works...of course when possible & needed.




Summer's Coming to an End

Hard to believe that Summer is coming to a close. September turned out to be a much better month than expected in regard to sales. The Fed is not going to play with the market, so interest rates should hold for the rest of the year. Prices have gone past their 2007 peaks in many areas. Buyers in LA ( as opposed to renters) will still save approx 22% vs. renters. The percentage has been shrinking. Remember, you get to pay your mortgage or your landlords mortgage.

(please click the TITLE to read the full article.)






10 Years & Counting...

Entering into my 10th year as a Realtor in Los Angeles & it's safe to say that I have seen most anything...not everything...but most anything that can happen, go right, and wrong in a real estate transaction.  No matter what the issue, my biggest lesson over the years is to keep calm, stay educated & always keep my clients' interests at heart! It's so tempting and easy to get lost in the narcissistic web of shameless self promotion & ego that we forget that we are here to first & foremost serve.  It has been a pleasure & I am excited & honored to serve for the years to come.


Call California Real Estate the Comeback Kid

Turnaround Towns for Q2 2013 Include Detroit

source: Real Estate News Aug 7, 2013 By: Lexie Puckett

Oakland, Orange County and the Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc area in California are leading the nation in housing recovery, according to the realtor.com® Turnaround Towns report for the second quarter of 2013. And Detroit is an unexpected winner, showing up as No. 7 on the list.

The proprietary algorithm used for this report evaluates acceleration in key housing indicators observed on realtor.com® over the quarter. The indicators are inventory, median list price and days on market, as well as weighted search and listing activity on realtor.com®.

Nationally, for Q2 2013, the median age of inventory dropped 14.4 percent over the past year, with typical homes selling in 83 days between April and June of this year. Median list price rose 5.4 percent year-over-year, to $196,000, in the second quarter of 2013.  The number of homes on the market dropped across the country by 10.3 percent year-over-year, with an average of 1.8 million homes on the market on any given day in the second quarter of 2013.

Most noteworthy is Detroit’s ranking at No. 7. Though the city recently filed bankruptcy, the market nonetheless posted strong improvement in the second quarter. Its median list prices on realtor.com® were 37.8 percent higher for the quarter than they were a year ago, while inventories were down 26.5 percent. The market’s median age of inventory is just 45 days, the second lowest in the nation.

“Detroit has made remarkable progress in the last year, shrinking its inventory of unsold homes by more than 26 percent and becoming one of the most balanced markets in the nation,” said Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move.  “We’ll be watching the inventory levels in the months ahead, but if this past quarter is any indication, Detroit won’t be giving up without a fight.”

Top 10 Turnaround Towns

1 – Oakland, CA: Oakland has been well on the path to recovery for more than a year. In the second quarter of 2013, listings in the Oakland market fell more than 34 percent from year-ago levels. Oakland led the nation in year-over-year list-price increases in the second quarter of 2013, and houses in Oakland are staying listed on realtor.com® for only 15 days, which is the youngest inventory in the nation. The median list house price in Oakland has risen from $339,000 a year ago to $479,000 in the second quarter of 2013.

2 – Orange County, CA: Orange County had record numbers of foreclosures just four years ago, but its home prices rose 29.4 percent above year-ago levels. In the second quarter of this year, Orange County had the fastest-declining inventory in the nation, with listings on realtor.com® down 36.6 percent. The median age of Orange County homes on realtor.com® in the second quarter of 2013 was 51 days, far below the national median of 83 days and 43.3 percent lower than a year ago.

3 – Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, CA: Santa Barbara’s strong prices catapulted it into third place on the list. In the second quarter of 2013, this market’s median price was up 34.3 percent over a year ago, to $685,000. Though Santa Barbara inventories were still extraordinarily low – down 27.8 percent from the second quarter of 2012 – they have started to recover. The average time that Santa Barbara listings spend on realtor.com® – 56 days – dropped 30.9 percent from the second quarter of 2012.

4 – San Jose, CA: Inventories in San Jose dropped 35.4 percent compared to the second quarter of 2012, the second-largest drop in the nation. Year-over-year San Jose prices were up exactly 25 percent in the second quarter of 2013, another sign that the market is returning to normal after a combination of historically low inventories and strong demand powered prices in San Jose and several other Northern California cities to huge increases.

5 – Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA: Seattle has worked its way into the top turnaround towns with consistently low inventories and a young age of listings. The median age of the market’s inventory on realtor.com® in the second quarter was only 23 days, making it the second-youngest in the nation. Homes listed for sale on realtor.com® are down 29.9 percent since the second quarter of 2012. Though Seattle’s market prices are not rising as quickly as those of other cities on this list, it is seeing resurgence in seller confidence.

6 – Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA: Los Angeles-Long Beach ranks fifth in the nation in price appreciation, with year-over-year prices up 30.3 percent as of the second quarter of 2013. Inventories were down 28.9 percent in the second quarter of 2013 from the same period in 2012. The median age of inventory, a measure of the balance between supply and demand, was 59 days compared to 83 days nationally.

7 – Detroit, MI: Although Detroit just filed for bankruptcy, the area’s housing market has been putting up numbers that bode well for the future of the city. Median list prices on realtor.com® are 37.8 percent higher in the second quarter of 2013 than the same period one year ago, while inventories are down 26.5 percent. The market’s median age of inventory is just 45 days, down 25 percent from the second quarter in 2012.

8 – Portland, OR-Vancouver, WA: Changes in the size of Portland-Vancouver’s inventory and a sharp decline in the time that homes are on the market are setting the stage for growth. Inventories are down 23.5 percent in the second quarter of 2013 from the same period in 2012, while median price is up 12 percent over the second quarter of 2012. The key to this market is its age of inventory, which has shrunk 45.8 percent in the past year. At 39 days, it is far below the national average of 83 days.

9 – San Diego, CA: For a large market, San Diego is putting up very strong numbers. Prices are up, inventories are down and homes are selling briskly. Prices are up 21.1 percent in the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago, and inventories are down 28.5 percent. Age of inventory in the San Diego market dropped 26.4 percent to 53 days.

10 – Reno, NV: Reno’s strong demand and shrinking inventory combined to create double-digit price appreciation. In the second quarter of 2013, list prices were up 26 percent over the same period last year, at the same time that its property count on realtor.com® fell 29.1 percent. Age of inventory dropped 32.3 percent.


What’s Up, Downtown?

Our JAG Architectural events are the talk of the town! After every event I've attended (I've been to 3) I leave looking at LA through a different lens.  Our very own Bret Parsons, a leader in LA Architecture, organizes & moderates the event.   And for #25 we're downtown DTLA where so much is happening in real estate, in the culinary scene and the Arts.

Aaroe Architectural #25 

Executive VP & Director of Economic Development for the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, Mr. Hal Bastian, informs us about the extraordinary activity in Downtown Los Angeles, now a thriving and vital real estate success story. Topics include inside info on the condo shortage (yes!), the apartment boom (absolutely!), desirable office space, restaurants, hot bars and hotter nightclubs (too many to name), hotels (the 72-story Wilshire Grand Project for one), luxurious amenities, Farmers Field and The Broad. Hal’s been a leader in the renaissance of Downtown Los Angeles since 1994, currently lives two blocks from City Hall, and was even born in nearby! He’s a rare native and a superb speaker about all things Downtown L.A.!


Start: August 12, 2013 11:00 am

End: August 12, 2013 2:00 pm

Venue: PacMutual Building 523 W. 6th St. #1200 

Los AngelesCA 90015

+ Google Map

Organizer: Bret Parsons

Phone: 310.497.5832

Email: rsvp@johnaaroegroup.com


Los Angelo Living Looks at the Bright Side

No doubt, we live in one of the Hottest real estate markets in the country...and I don't just mean weather-wise...although it has been a scorching summer.  The Top Ten Reasons are further supported by foreign investors who feel the U.S. & especially Los Angeles is a safe place to invest their money.    Los Angeles is the top city for Real Estate searches in the world.  With every one person who leaves this transitional haven, 15 more are ready to arrive which is keeping developers busy building homes for our growing population.  I just wish there was a way to reduce the absurd amount of cars around :)  And then we couldn't call it LA, right?  Another fact to consider is that all the buyers in the market are either putting down large down payments or paying all cash which means (most) buyers are not over-leveraging themselves (the main reason for our past problems).  With that said the Fed has proven they can stop the train with one sudden increase in interest rates.  So although this frenzy can't go on forever let's enjoy the ride while we're on it.  Have a great week.


It's All Good.

It's All Good.