Basics on Down Payment Wire Fraud


You come to a mortgage group like Altius Mortgage and our partners at Mortgage Ogden because you want a reputable, experienced company to walk you through what can be a complex process. You want the security of knowing you’re dealing with a process that’s above-board from the start.

Unfortunately, some unscrupulous characters do exist in our industry, and our mortgage brokers are here to protect you from these. One common scam that’s run in the mortgage loan world: Down payment wire fraud. Here’s how this happens, and how you can protect yourself from it ever happening to you.

How Down Payment Fraud Happens

The timing of down payment scams is important to the scammers – they strike when you’re actually in the process of buying a real home, to make things feel as real as possible. They’ll generally send you an email that looks like it’s from your actual real estate agent (with an address that’s often just changed by a few characters), telling you instructions for your down payment have changed and providing you with a new account number to transfer money to.

There are a few possible red flags that can alert you something is off here. For one, they’ll ask for the incorrect amount, or a partial amount. For another, they may ask for different timing than usual – nearly all normal down payments are made the day before closing.

Rising Rates

This kind of fraud is on the rise, so be careful. It exploded by almost 500 percent in the year 2016, and became the highest individual form of fraud out there in terms of total dollar losses – hundreds of millions were lost during the calendar year.

Stopping Fraud

The simplest way to prevent this process from ever getting off the ground is to simply call your real estate agent the moment you notice any red flags. Ask them if they sent you the curious email, and proceed accordingly. If you do get duped and fall for the scam, call your bank immediately, then contact the FBI and Federal Trade Commission.

Spotting Fraud

Anytime you see an email with money-wiring instructions and account numbers, this should immediately raise some concerns. Virtually no reputable financial institution does things this way. Anytime you do transfer money for a down payment, ask your bank to confirm the account number and name on the receiving end. To be safe, contact your real estate agent or title company after sending the transfer to ensure that the money was sent and received properly.

For more on avoiding down payment scams, or to find out about what our mortgage brokers can do for you, contact Altius Mortgage today.

Notable Mortgage Trends to Know

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Within the mortgage world, it’s vital to stay on top of various market indicators that can dictate a huge part of the financial picture for your next home loan. At Altius Mortgage and our partners at Mortgage Ogden, our brokers stay on top of these kinds of trends at all times to give you the most informed perspective possible.

The housing picture is expected to improve in the remainder of 2018, and has already done so –though parts of the market will remain challenging as they’ve always been. Let’s look at a few important trends to keep an eye on.

Home Price Deceleration

In a particular piece of good news for first time homebuyers, appreciation on home prices is expected to slow down after a few insane years in this area. Home prices rose a ridiculous 6.3 percent in 2016, per the FHFA, and are on track to exceed 6 percent in 2017 as well. For 2018, though, it’s expected that the increase will be closer to just 4 percent.

One big factor here is home construction, which experts expect to rise sharply in 2018. Single-family housing is expected to rise about 8 percent in 2018.

Home Sales Could Rise

Despite trends in recent years where homes were harder and harder to find, 2018 could have some rays of light. A growth in inventory is finally expected around the fall of 2018, and resales of existing homes are expected to rise modestly. Cities in the south will show the most growth here, with up to 6 percent home sales growth in many southern markets with strong regional economies.

Rising Mortgage Rates Possible

Current mortgage rates are expected to rise in 2018, potentially up to about 4.7 percent compared to 4.07 percent in 2017. However, note that interest rates are typically resistant to precise prediction – most people expected similar rises in 2017, and these actually never came. The rates did indeed rise at the start of the year, but then they actually dropped from spring until the end of the year. So take this forecast with a grain of salt.

More Equity, Lines of Credit

As home values rise, homeowners gain more equity. Banks expect many homeowners to borrow against that equity in 2018, with about 1.6 million homeowners forecasted to receive new home equity lines of credit for the year – a 16 percent increase over 2017. By the year 2022, TransUnion predicts that 10 million homeowners will get lines of credit, double the number from the previous five years.

For more on mortgage trends to watch for this year, or to learn about any of our mortgage services, speak to the pros at Altius Mortgage today.