Navigating open houses or compensation for remote work? A guide to five housing trends – Miami Herald

A new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is designed to help servicers to quickly process deeply delinquent loans. Above: To help deal with foreclosed homes, houses like this one at 924 NW 11th Street pictured in 2010 have been purchased by the City of Homestead to be refurbished and sold as affordable housing.
A new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is designed to help servicers to quickly process deeply delinquent loans. Above: To help deal with foreclosed homes, houses like this one at 924 NW 11th Street pictured in 2010 have been purchased by the City of Homestead to be refurbished and sold as affordable housing. Allison Diaz Allison Diaz

If your closing was postponed recently, cybercriminals may be to blame.

In mid-July, Cloudstar, a cloud-hosting and data security provider to title and settlement firms, was one of the many companies to fall victim to a sophisticated ransomware attack that rendered its systems inaccessible.

The company has retained the services of third-party forensics specialists Tetra Defense to assist with the recovery efforts; negotiations with the hackers were said to be ongoing.

A company statement from a week after the attack said that Cloudstar was working “around the clock to assess the recoverability of customer data.” As of early August, Cloudstar reported that it was continuing restoration efforts, and expected that the majority of its customer data would be recovered.

At the same time, the company warned that the process is “very complex … Due to the extensive impact that this event had on our systems, we are unable to provide a definitive ETA. We expect that this overall process will take several weeks.”

Cloudstar operates six data centers in the United States, serving more than 42,000 users.

How does a grow house affect your property value?

An illegal grow house in your neighborhood could make your house less valuable. But when recreational and medical marijuana is legal, new research suggests that home values are likely to increase.

For every $1 million bump in tax revenues paid by legitimate growers and sellers, home values will increase by an average of $470, a study by Clever Real Estate found.

Once sales begin in the five states that most recently legalized recreational weed — Montana, New Mexico, New York, Virginia and Vermont — home values are predicted to increase by an average of $61,343, according to the research.

The study found that between 2017 and 2021, property values rose $17,113 more in states where recreational marijuana is legal, compared to those where it is illegal or limited to medicinal use. With each new dispensary added, whether medicinal or recreational, property values increase by $519, it said.

As of July, 36 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, medicinal use or both. The industry is projected to be worth $30 billion by 2025. Pew Research says 91% of American adults believe marijuana should be legal in some form.

Hidden cameras at open houses

If you felt like someone was looking over your shoulder when you visited an open house recently, you may have been right

About 3 in 10 sellers are using hidden cameras to spy on visitors — and not just to protect their belongings, according to a new survey by LendingTree. The No. 1 stated reason: to gain a better understanding of what potential buyers like and don’t like about their homes so they can make adjustments.

Sellers also resort to spying to gather information they could use during negotiations and to find out what their agents are really saying about their houses. And unbeknownst to their own agents, some are watching to make sure they are doing their jobs.

Using such devices may or may not be legal, depending on local laws. But it also may be counterproductive. Nearly half the buyers queried said they would back out of the deal if they discovered the seller had secretly recorded them.

Asking your employer for compensation for remote work

If you are working from home, whether by choice or not, you might want to consider your workspace a satellite office of your employer and ask for compensation. At least, that’s the thinking of one real estate executive.

As long as space in your home is used solely for work, and it is used for the majority of your work, you can claim a home office on your federal tax return. But Tamir Poleg, co-founder and CEO of The Real Brokerage, says your employer should be paying you for using space that otherwise could be put to other uses.

There are tax implications to working from home, as well as labor and employment law implications. For example, a shift in an employee’s location across state lines can result in new wage and hour rules, and/or potential double taxation for employees living in one state and working in another.

”It is only fair that employers take responsibility for all of the above and find a way to compensate, or at least share expenses with, the employees for using their residences as the company’s satellite office,” Poleg told me.

Rule change on deeply delinquent mortgages

A new rule from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is designed to help servicers — aka companies that manage your mortgage payments — to quickly process deeply delinquent loans. That way, they can focus on borrowers who still have a chance to save their homes

The idea is to stem what some expect will be a flood of foreclosures. But not everyone is of that thinking, at least not entirely. Moody’s Investor Services believes that if borrowers who are delinquent or in foreclosure list their homes for sale evenly over the coming months, as opposed to dumping them on the market all at once, the result would add only a meager half-a-month’s supply to the inventory-starved market.

Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for more than 50 years. He is a regular contributor to numerous shelter magazines and housing and housing-finance industry publications. Readers can contact him at lsichelman@aol.com.