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The Current Market Shifting To A “Scammers” Market?

Beware of rental scams! Wire transfers and long-distance inquiries are red flags.

Home Search Online in Huntsville Alabama

Beware of Scams and Other Internet Fraud

Scams are a reality of shopping online and offline. You should always be wary of giving personal information, financial information, or payments of any kind to people you don’t know personally.

Red Flags for Scams

Requests to wire funds via MoneyGram or Western Union 

Most scams involve a request to wire funds. Do not wire funds to anyone you haven’t met personally. This is a real bonehead thing to do anyway, besides does anyone even use MoneyGrams anymore? Scammers create convincing reasons why they need to deal remotely. Likewise, do not accept wire funds that you did not initiate.


Long-distance landlords

Most scams come from users in foreign countries who claim to be interested in purchasing or renting out a home. Be wary of claims from people who are contacting you from abroad because they are missionaries, U.N. workers, or in the military.


Requests for verification codes

If you are asked to provide a code sent to your cell phone via text or phone call, this is a scam. If the request comes from someone like me it is OK to accept the network charges.


Requests for personal or financial information 

Do not provide your bank account number or Social Security Number to unknown sources. First verify it is a trusted source and then only provide this information sparingly. I only put this in here because there still seem to be folks who are just now climbing from under a rock and haven’t heard this is not a good idea.


Typos and sob stories 

Emails filled with spelling and grammatical errors are usually a sign of fraud. British spelling such as “favour” instead of “favor” is also a sign of a rental scam. Messages involving stories of family or financial issues or of agents who charge too high a premium are usually fraud. Again, if one of these emails or letters came from me please call me before you post my “grammer” mishaps to Facebook!

Report Scams and Fraud

If you believe you have been scammed, report the incident to the FTC. If you sent money via Western Union or MoneyGram, report the incident immediately: if the recipient hasn’t collected the money yet, the wire transfer company can reverse the transfer.

When reporting scams, include as much as possible of the following: the name and address of the sender, the send location, the date and amount of the transfer, the transfer fee, the date and actual location of the receipt, the name of the receiver, any information recorded regarding the receiver’s identification, the reference number for the transfer, and the details of the nature of the issue.

Examples of Scams

Some of the emails are actual emails received by some of our friends and clients others are a simple dramatization (the narrator says in a slight London accent) to point out how absurd these emails can actually be.

“I’m out of the country and need you to wire me the deposit.”

How the scam works: You find a great rental (it’s usually too good to be true), but the landlord is located out of state or out of the country. They’ll rent it to you and mail you the keys if you just send a deposit.

Tip: Don’t wire money to anyone you haven’t met in person. If it looks like a great deal and is too good to be true, it’s likely a scam. You will lose your money, and the place you were looking at isn’t really even on the market.

Example email:



Thanks for your email and interest in renting my house.

Property is available for move in at the moment for $1250 for the month rent and $1200 for the security deposit (Refundable After Lease period , As long as there are no damages on property after inspection). For immediate move in you would be required to make a total payment of $2450 but if you are not moving in Immediately, you would be required to make a down payment of $1200 for the security deposit Non- negotiable, to hold property till desired move in date.


Unfortunately, I would not be present in person to show you the property due to my recent job transfer to London, UK, and I do not have a local representative to show the house due to my transfer so if you are interested in renting the property and willing to work with me despite my absence then I would email the necessary papers for the lease to you, for necessary endorsement.


I also want to tell you that the neighborhood is secured and the people staying there are good.


Details of the house are below;


Rent: $1250.

Security Deposit: $1200

3 Bedrooms, 1.75 Bathroom.

Single-Family Home.

Location: Kirkland WA 98033.

Street Address: 12721 Northeast 101st Place.

Pets Allowed: Cats and Dogs.

Size: 1,800 sqft.

Home available for immediate move in.


This is a charming home in Kirkland.

Lovely move in ready 3 bedroom, 1.75 bath, rambler, located on quiet cul-de-sac. Approx. 1800 sq ft., built in 1989. Bright and airy interior that has been beautifully updated and well-maintained.

Exterior Sun Blockers roll-shutters for max insulation & security.

Other features include security system, built-in vacuum system and skylights. High quality throughout. Neutral colors. Master suite with private bath and two walk in closets. Spacious kitchen with tons of oak cabinets and all appliances (refrig, range, microwave). Very light and open, Washer and dryer included. 2-car attached garage with opener.

Yard service included and home is pet friendly!




If you find yourself in one of these predicaments and want help, Call Me. I’ll let you know what I think of the  situation. Jim Brown 256.348.5572



“I overpaid you with my money order. Please send some back.”

How the scam works: A renter or buyer agrees to wire you money for a deposit, but accidentally sends too much. They ask you to wire back the over-payment and you must “act now.” You send the “overpayment” back and their check fails to clear the bank. Now, the money you sent is gone forever.


Tip: Don’t wire money to anyone you haven’t met in person.

Example email exchange:

“Thanks for the speedy response,i am really excited that the house is in good condition, and i really love the pictures of the house i have seen so far, i would not mind to see more pictures of the home, i would like to know if i would have any repairs what so ever.

I work with the United nations development program(UNDP).I have been working there for 5 years.

I am married with no kid. I and my Wife actually got married last year. My Full name is PXXXX AXXXX kXXXX and my Wife’s name is  MXXXX DXXXX kXXXX.she is a school teacher, I am 39 years old and my wife is 35.Our current house address is 3XXXXXXXXXXXXX, EXXXXX Edinburgh Scotland.

I have never bought a property abroad before, this would be my first, and i am not working alongside any agents, I also want to know how soon you are willing to move out of the house. I and my wife are looking to relocate as soon as we have found a home we like, I would also like to know your final price for this property. please kindly get back to me asap.”


“I want to buy your property. Please send sensitive information.”

How the scam works: Someone contacts you remotely and proposes to buy or rent your property. They may ask for personal information that can be used to steal your identity or rob your bank account.

Tip: Beware long-distance inquiries or requests for personal information.

Example email:

“I am interested in purchasing the property on 17 LXXXX Rd, CXXX HXXXX VXXXX CO XXXXX.Although the price is much “$4,000,000”. But i will convince my client regarding the property is a Single Family Residential. I know he must like it. I will like to view the copy of the contract of sale. As you are the real owner for this property. I will like to view the contract of sale. So it can be checked for any irregularities. Once the contract is okay and has been given the thumbs up by my client. I can then contact you and make an offer accorden to your request or Advise. I look forward hearing from you

Tokyo Japan.”


Contact me with any questions you may have. I’m here to help.

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Buying A Home Without A Real Estate Professional

It’s funny to me how many different thoughts and assumptions there are in the world. Take for instance septic tanks. Some folks


assume they just somehow are pumped out like a normal sewer system. Well, septic tanks do need to be periodically pumped out,

system is, “well where does it go?”. When I say it basically is spread out a few feet under the yard, I get more like, “OMG!”.however they are not automated like a sewer system. The most reactions I get when people ask more questions about a septic

So I was talking to a potential client this weekend and we were discussing why I thought they should be working with a Buyers 

Huntsville-real-estateAgent, whether me or another agent (ME).

It was like pulling teeth to get an answer of why they had not started working with an agent yet. For the most part they would give the standard, “we have just begun looking”, to “we don’t want to waist someones time”, to We’ve bought a house before. These are all respectable answers, but I could just feel there was something we were really missing in the conversation. Then from out of nowhere we found it. NO not the house, however we would eventually. The answer as to why these folks were not utilizing a Real Estate Professional.

I mentioned, in passing, “you know, you don’t generally pay for a Buyer’s Agent to help locate and negotiate a new home, right”? Where to my surprise (wink wink) they were, “OMG, seriously”? I know right, but not the same OMG as the septic tank realization, I hope.

So yeah, there it is. I do not charge a fee, under normal circumstances, to help find and negotiate a new home for buyers. This is not to say some agents don’t or do. I can only speak for myself. So, if you are looking and don’t have an agent or you know someone who is and they don’t have an agent, give me a call. There isn’t really much to lose. I will take your call.

Real Estate| Real Simple

Jim D Brown


North Alabama Realtor


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4 Easy Steps to Buying Your First or Fifth House

After months of searching online and getting nowhere, here you are. Now you know the 4 Easy steps to buying a home.

First, as 90% of buyers today, start with a home search online. As long as you’re here why not search here? We have all active listings shown on North Alabama’s MLS index. In addition to our MLS I also offer several “For Sale By Owner listings”. That is an extra step in giving you every option to find the perfect house.

Second, You found it! Congratulations! I knew if you started here you could more than likely finish here. Wasn’t that easier than driving around town for countless hours hoping to see “the house” around the next corner.

Third, this is the fun part. All you have to do is sit back and let years of negotiating and getting the best deals for our clients, work for you.

Fourth, Sure there were several points in the process that were high pressure or potential deal breakers, but you didn’t need to stress over any of them. We always keep a positive outlook and keep the process moving forward. Now we celebrate the big moving day.

Yes, it is that easy. Give it a try.



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7 Local Backyard Oases You Want to See

I’ve seen many housees in the past years that I would not schedule a return without protection in some form or fasion. Iv’e also seen houses that made me want to stay for a few hours and just relax. The latter being the exception. I thought it might be neat to put together a short and sweet ppost showing some of the great local backyard oases in and around my area. The following are several pools and outdoor kitchens you may want to look into a bit closer. Feel free to comment and or share.


custom-concrete pool

Pool with a fountain
Pool with a fountain
Custom Stone raised pool
Custom Stone raised pool


Custom Outdoor Kitchen with tongue groove ceiling
Custom Outdoor Kitchen with tongue groove ceiling


Custom concrete with fountain


Outdoor Kitchen overlooking pool


Custom Heated Pool with Mountain views


If any of these homes interest you and you would like to take a closer look, feel free to contact me for a showing appointment.


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Fannie Mae Shows Signs of a Recovering Market

2013 was an extraordinary year for a lot of Real Estate Pros. Many conversations about the housing market are ending in a much different matter than they had in years past. Lately the story is, “Wow”, We are really seeing an increase in home prices and a decrease in inventory”. Years ago this comment would have been accompanied with a graphic of a donkey with mouth wide open laughing hysterically.

The Real Estate market is definitely showing signs of growth and movement. Today home prices are beginning to slightly increase and whispers of a “Sellers Market” are rolling off agents tongues. This truly makes people a little more comfortable with the country still trying to pull out of the recent crash. All of this still would simply be mostly “lip Service” if not for the the giants of the mortgage market producing such impressive numbers. Let’s take a look at Fannie Mae and data released in a recent article by Timothy J. Mayopoulos President and Chief Executive Officer, Fannie Mae 

In the statement Fannie Mae reveals their financial performance, over the past few years, has improved significantly, and in 2013 reported “84.0 billion in net income and $38.6 billion in pre-tax income, the highest annual income and annual pre-tax income in our company’s history”. In addition to this improvement Fannie Mae also has strengthened the underwriting and eligibility standards as so to promote a more sustainable housing market as related to homeownership.

In addition to developing stronger requirements for home buying eligibility, Fannie Mae has also worked to help owners avoid foreclosure by “completing more than 1.5 million workout solutions since 2009. In 2013, we completed 234,000 foreclosure prevention solutions. Less than 1 percent of the single-family loans in our book went into foreclosure in 2013, and we strive to help every at-risk family find an alternative to foreclosure.”

Below is a graphic giving a few numbers to grow on. Take a look and decide for yourself if you still should be standing on the sidelines or if it is time to Move forward?

fannie mae numbers at a glance

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Bad, Bad Real Estate!

As the Real Estate market turns the corner and begins the ascent back to sustainable numbers, we are starting to see increased inventory. With this increase we are also getting new photography ideas. While spending hours per day viewing hundreds of listings and images for clients, there seems to be a great number of Agents who should have their picture taking license revolked.

Understandingly, it is extremely difficult to get a perfect picture to successfully market a home online. To be honest, some  are not even trying. A simple smartphone takes better pictures than a large part of what can be found online.

For the ones who do use a camera that does need to be wound after each click or dropped off at a discount store for processing, a simple scan of your surroundings first could go a long way. Take a look at a few images recently compiled from a local MLS. These homes are currently being marketed online with these photos.

If any of these images are of your house or you took the photo or know who did please keep the identity hidden. This is in no way a solicitation of business nor an insinuation to hire a different Realtor. It is simply a lighthearted light shedding exercise to help increase the quality images used for Real Estate marketing online.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

A little decluttering maybe?
People in the picture?
Dirty sinks, clutter, blurry, time stamp on the picture?



What is this even of?
This could be a scary ghost sighting? When you see it.
A Blair Witch project?
Showing the great small space perfectly?
Looks like a picture was taken of a picture?
Ready for spaghetti and syrup?
Guess what this is and WIN?
Must be a flip phone?
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Former Foreclosed Home Owners are Buying Again





With analysts giving statistics that the peak of the foreclosure era is in our rear view mirror now, a new set of home buyers are coming back.

Boomerang buyers: Buyers who lost a home to foreclosure during the housing apocalypse are safely trying to re-enter the buying market. This time around, however may not be as clean cut for securing a mortgage.

During the Real Estate craze several years ago Mortgage companies had a plethora of buying options which didn’t mandate a 20% or more down payment to secure the loan. Today’s market and issuance of new Mortgage requirements are making a substantial down payment almost inevitable. That is not to say you cannot secure a mortgage with $0 as a down payment, however it does suggest your buying credit and history needs to be mostly clean.

Real Estate professionals agree these buyers are essential in developing a sustainable Real Estate market. What do we see that draws this conclusion?

RealtyTrac notes (via North Carolina State University) that:

From January 2007 to December 2011 there were more than four million completed foreclosures and more than 8.2 million foreclosure starts …

That is a huge number of folks who had their dreams of Home Ownership slip out of their hands. the majority still have those dreams that will eventually drive them back into the housing market. Another data linking this possible influx of Boomerang Buyers to the market is the stats  reported this past year by CoreLogic:

Approximately 1.4 million homes, or 3.4 percent of all homes with a mortgage, were in the national foreclosure inventory as of May 2012 compared to 1.5 million, or 3.5 percent, in May 2011 and 1.4 million, or 3.4 percent, in April 2012. The foreclosure inventory is the share of all mortgaged homes in some stage of the foreclosure process.


How are they able to get back in the Home Ownership picture with a foreclosure on their record? Well, some information out there is a bit misleading. Some reports tell a buyer who has had a foreclosure must wait a minimum of 7 years in order to be able to secure a new loan. Not totally true.

Here is the information I use when dealing with clients who have a foreclosure on record.

The wait times for qualifying for a loan can vary depending on the former home owners’ circumstances. Typically, the wait times following a short sale or foreclosure are as follows:

  • Seven-year wait for home owners with a previous foreclosure before they can qualify for a new mortgage through mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. If the foreclosure was  included in a bankruptcy, the borrower has to wait only four years.
  • Two-year wait for home owners who underwent a short sale before they’re eligible for another Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae loan.
  • Three-year wait for home owners seeking a Federal Housing Administration loan after a foreclosure or short sale. Some home owners who underwent a foreclosure because of at least a 20 percent cut in their pay may be able to qualify for a new mortgage after just a year through FHA’s Back to Work program.

As you can see form the data above, we are quickly moving into that magical time  of 4 years. The height of the foreclosure nationwide was in 2010. So keep in mind when preparing your offers for buying your next home, you may have a new kind of competition. Talk to your Real Estate agent today to stay up on trends to consider when negotiating offers or contracts.

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New Home Buyers Beware of the Deed Processing Scam

Buying a home is suppose to be a wonderful time in Home Buyers lives. You search online for months and call your Realtor® (ME) Huntsville-real-estateeveryday, probably twice a day until you find that perfect Home you have been dreaming about. So now begins the dirty work. There is the offer(s), counter offers, inspections, mortgages, re-inspections, negotiating the contracts, attorneys etc, etc… You finally get to the closing and take possession of the Home of your dreams. Now a week or so later you get a bill in the mail saying something about remitting payment of $83 (apx) to said Deed Processing co. so you can receive the deed to your new home. So without thinking or calling your Realtor® (ME) again to ask what it is, you just send it in. It’s a scam!

home deeds

So here is the skinny. There are these illegitimate companies who are putting together an elaborate scam taking advantage of folks who just completed the purchase of a home. They are taking public records of recently purchased homes and sending out professionally crafted letters that would be hard to question as fake.



First, at any point you have questions or do not remember a conversation about a home or home purchase, call a Realtor® (ME). That is what I am here for. Simple questions to complex questions, I want to help.

Next, these letters asking for this fee, reportedly are being addressed form an out of town business.

Another thing, Your Realtor® (ME) or the closing  Attorney should have explained in detail where and when to expect your deed (free of charge) should be arriving to you and exactly what you need to do with that deed.

Keep it simple and keep it safe. When a question or concern comes up call a Realtor® (ME)