Don’t fall victim to wire fraud // Buyers and sellers: Beware of this common real estate scam

Wire fraud has suddenly become a massive problem in our marketplace. Whether you’re a
buyer or seller, there will come a point when you need to either send or receive money via your
title company. And in today’s busy world, many people opt to transfer these funds digitally. This
is all well and good, but it does pose some major security risks, namely: wire fraud.

So what is wire fraud, and how can you avoid it?
In short, wire fraud is a scam during which someone will hack your title company’s email
address and send you faulty instructions from that account, effectively tricking you into sending
your funds to the wrong account. Unfortunately, there is no way to get your money back once
this happens.

This is why, to avoid wire fraud, you must only ever follow the instructions sent to you
from your title company in the mail or in an encrypted email. If you have any questions or
ever have reason to doubt that the instructions you’ve received are legitimate, don’t hesitate to
call the title company directly using contact information from their website or from your Realtor.
The instructions you initially receive from your title company will never change. Anyone who tells
you otherwise is trying to scam you.

As always, if you would like to learn more about this or any other real estate-related topic, feel
free to reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you soon.


The Fed Raised Rates: What Does that Mean for Housing?

The Fed Raised Rates: What Does that Mean for Housing? | MyKCM

You may have heard that the Federal Reserveraised rates last week… But what does that mean if you are looking to buy a home in the near future?

Many in the housing industry have predicted that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the policy-making arm of the Federal Reserve, would vote to raise the federal fund’s target rate at their December meeting. For only the second time in a decade, this is exactly what happened.

There were many factors that contributed to the 0.25 point increase (from 0.50 to 0.75), but many are pointing to the latest jobs report and low unemployment rate (4.6%) as the main reason.

Tim Manni, Mortgage Expert at Nerd Wallet, had this to say,

“Homebuyers shouldn’t be particularly concerned with [last week’s] Fed move. Even with rates hovering over 4 percent, they’re still historically low. Most market observers are expecting a gradual rise in home loan rates in the near term, anticipating mortgage rates to stay under 5 percent through 2017.”

Bottom Line

Only time will tell what the long-term impact of the rate hike will be, but in the short term, there should be no reason for alarm. If you have questions about the Bellingham and Whatcom County Real Estate market call Johnson Team Real Estate today toll free at 1-888-713-3056, we’d be happy to help!


Mortgage Interest Rates Just Went Up… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage Interest Rates Just Went Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | MyKCM

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Along with Freddie MacFannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact they may no longer be able to get a rate less than 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades.

Mortgage Interest Rates Just Went Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago; a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago. Call Johnson Team Real Estate today with your real estate questions at (360) 303-2734 or email us at We would be happy to help!

Source: KeepingMattersCurrent

It’s Not Always Marriage Before Mortgage

It’s Not Always Marriage Before Mortgage | MyKCM

There are many people sitting on the sidelines trying to decide if they should purchase a home or sign a rental lease. Some might wonder if it makes sense to purchase a house before they are married and have a family. Others may think they are too young. And still, others might think their current income would never enable them to qualify for a mortgage.

We want to share what the typical first-time homebuyer actually looks like based on the National Association of REALTORS most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. Here are some interesting statistics on the first-time buyer:

It’s Not Always Marriage Before Mortgage | MyKCM

Unmarried couples jumped up to the third spot, right after their married counterparts and single women. Many couples are buying a home before spending what would be a down payment on a wedding.

Bottom Line

You may not be much different than many people who have already purchased their first home. Let’s get together to determine if your dream home is within your grasp. Call Johnson Team Real Estate today at (360) 303-2734 or email us at to learn more!

Source: KeepingMattersCurrent

Taking the Fear out of the Mortgage Process

Taking the Fear out of the Mortgage Process | MyKCM

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainty about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need to have saved for a down payment (the average down payment on all loans was 11% last month, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income and good credit history.

Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals, all of which perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests to follow:

Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score of all closed loans in September was 731, according to Ellie Mae.


Start gathering all of your documentation – income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).


Contact a professional – your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer that can help you develop a spending plan, as well as determine how much home you can afford.


Consult with your lender – he or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.


Talk to your lender about pre-approval – a pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change), and demonstrates to home sellers that you are serious about buying!


Bottom Line

Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure that you are ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.  Johnson Team Real Estate is here to help you through the process, call us today at (360) 303-2734 or email us at to learn more!

Source: KeepingMattersCurrent

How Historically Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power

How Historically Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 3.47%. Rates have remained at or below 3.5% each of the last 16 weeks, marking a historic low.

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows what impact rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range, and planned to keep your principal and interest payments at or about $1,100 a month.

How Historically Low Interest Rates Increase Your Purchasing Power | MyKCM

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5%, (in this example, $6,250). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 4% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard earned money. Call Johnson Team Real Estate today at (360) 303-2734 or email us at, we’d be happy to help!

Source: KeepingMattersCurrent

Why Is There So Much Paperwork to Sign to Get a Mortgage?

Why Is There So Much Paperwork to Sign to Get a Mortgage? | MyKCM

We are often asked why there is so much paperwork mandated by the bank for a mortgage loan application when buying a home today. It seems that the bank needs to know everything about us and requires three separate sources to validate each and every entry on the application form.

Many buyers are being told by friends and family that the process was a hundred times easier when they bought their home ten to twenty years ago.

There are two very good reasons that the loan process is much more onerous on today’s buyer than perhaps any time in history.

1. The government has set new guidelines that now demand that the bank prove beyond any doubt that you are indeed capable of affording the mortgage.

During the run-up in the housing market, many people ‘qualified’ for mortgages that they could never pay back. This led to millions of families losing their home. The government wants to make sure this can’t happen again.

2. The banks don’t want to be in the real estate business.

Over the last seven years, banks were forced to take on the responsibility of liquidating millions of foreclosures and also negotiating another million plus short sales. Just like the government, they don’t want more foreclosures. For that reason, they need to double (maybe even triple) check everything on the application.

However, there is some good news in the situation.

The housing crash that mandated that banks be extremely strict on paperwork requirements also allows you to get a mortgage interest rate as low as 3.43%, the latest reported rate from Freddie Mac.

The friends and family who bought homes ten or twenty years ago experienced a simpler mortgage application process but also paid a higher interest rate (the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage was 8.12% in the 1990’s and 6.29% in the 2000’s). If you went to the bank and offered to pay 7% instead of less than 4%, they would probably bend over backwards to make the process much easier.

Bottom Line

Instead of concentrating on the additional paperwork required, let’s be thankful that we are able to buy a home at historically low rates. If you in the market for a mortgage of a new home Johnson Team Real Estate is here to help! Call us today at 1-888-713-3056 or email us at today!

Search for currently listed homes and property on our website today

New Bellingham Real Estate ListingsSource: Keeping Matters Current

Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rates

Bellingham Mortgage RatesThe Federal Reserve raised its key interest rate on Wednesday from a range of 0% to 0.25% to a range of 0.25% to 0.5%. This is the first raise since 2006.

While this raise doesn’t directly raise home mortgage rates,  it does mean that  mortgage rates will be on the rise.

If you have been on the fence about buying a new home or refinancing your current home now might be the time.  It’s a great time to explore your options in anticipation of the Federal reserves plans to slowly increase rates.

If you have questions about home buying options in Bellingham and Whatcom County call us today at 1-888-713-3056, we are here to help!


Home Loan and Mortgage Rate Update

Have you been staying up to speed on the latest in home loan and mortgage rates? The Johnson Team Real Estate can help you out. If you are in the market for a home loan below are the mortgage rates as of September 3rd, courtesy of Sidney Stonecypher at People’s Bank Barkley Branch here in Bellingham.

For more details, or a custom home loan quote, contact Sidney Stonecypher at People’s Bank, 360-676-4597 or Remember that many variables come into play in determining the rate a lender will give a borrower. If you are getting a rate quote from a lender who does not have all your information, that rate may not be real. What with the low rates, it is still a great time to buy a house!