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Understanding and Protecting Against Spoofed Emails

Understanding and Protecting Against Spoofed Emails

In recent times, the frequency of spoofed emails designed to scam recipients has risen sharply. These emails often appear legitimate but are actually from fraudsters aiming to steal personal information. It’s crucial to stay vigilant and recognize these phishing attempts to protect your sensitive data.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is a Spoofed Email?
  2. 4 Ways to Spot a Phishing Attack
  3. Best Practices to Avoid Falling Victim
  4. Resources and Further Reading

What is a Spoofed Email?

A spoofed email is a malicious email that mimics the appearance and sender address of a legitimate email to deceive the recipient. FAAR recently highlighted an incident where several individuals received such emails falsely claimed to be sent by FAAR. These emails are crafted by scammers who are becoming increasingly sophisticated, targeting anyone at any time.

4 Ways to Spot a Phishing Attack

1. Strange or Mismatched Sender Address

Always verify the sender’s address. If the email claims to be from a reputable organization but has a suspicious or mismatched email address, it’s likely a phishing attempt.

2. An Unusual URL

Before clicking on any URL in an email, hover over it to see the landing page address. If the URL appears fake or slightly altered from what you would expect, do not click on it.

3. Message Looks Strange or Too Good to Be True

If an email’s content looks unusual or too good to be true, verify its legitimacy by contacting the supposed sender through a different communication method, such as phone or in person.

4. Poor Spelling and Grammar

Emails from professional organizations are usually well-written. Poor spelling and grammar can be an immediate red flag signaling a phishing email.

Best Practices to Avoid Falling Victim

If you receive a suspicious email that seems to be from someone you know, do not reply directly. Instead, contact the sender through another communication method to confirm its authenticity. Additionally, educate your clients or peers about these tactics to prevent them from falling prey to such scams.

Resources and Further Reading

For more detailed information on how to protect yourself from phishing and spoofed emails, consider exploring these resources:

You can also take a phishing quiz provided by Google to test your ability to identify phishing emails. Remember, knowledge is your best defense against these sophisticated attacks.

Conclusion

Staying informed and cautious about the emails you receive is essential in protecting your personal information from scammers. By educating yourself and others, you can help reduce the effectiveness of these fraudulent activities. For additional information and resources, access more spam email educational materials here.

Price Increases Continue to Frustrate Local Buyers

The local housing market showed surprising price growth in March despite persistent year-over-year demand decreases.  Median price was up nearly 8% year-over-year coming in at $449,949 this March compared to $420,000 last year.  Total sold volume remained static from last March coming in at approximately $202.3 million, a scant 1% decrease from 2023 numbers.  Units sold fell by almost 8% year-over-year compared to last March with 417 homes selling last month compared to 452 in 2023. 

The regional price increase was driven by high prices in Spotsylvania and Stafford counties, with the latter setting a price record for March.  Spotsylvania County landed its third-ever highest price at $449,000 with an increase in units sold over last March.  Meanwhile, Stafford County posted a whopping $522,500 median price for March, a 10% increase from last year, but that price point was reflected in a downturn in demand of nearly 30%. 

“We’re seeing a pain crunch for first-time buyers as inventory in their price point has aways been a challenge, and it’s very pronounced right now,” comments mortgage lender and FAAR Board of Director Nick Bohn.  “On the bright side, Virginia Housing programs increased flexibility on income limits has really helped expand those opportunities for first-time buyers.  We’re seeing an increase in inquiries for mortgage loans, and we are anticipating high demand for the limited inventory that’s on the market.”

Days on market, the time it takes from when a listing enters the market until it receives a ratified contract and is removed from active status on the multiple listing service decreased almost 20% going from 37 days last March to 30 this year.

Inventory was again all over the place with a slight increase in active listings with the market seeing 704 active homes for sale compared to 693 at the close of last March, a less than 2% increase.  New listings coming on the market were down by nearly 8% with 602 new homes listed throughout last March compared to 555 listed this March.  New pending contracts were up by over 11% this March with 566 pending transactions compared to 509 last year. 

Spring FAARside newsletter now available

Spring FAARside newsletter now available

Your copy of the Spring Newsletter, the FAARside is here! Crack open a copy to learn about what’s going on at the Association including a letter from the President, 2023 accomplishments, the Virginia REALTORS® legislative agenda, member photos, and more!

This edition includes

  • How REALTORS® gave back over $25,000 to local charities in 2023
  • Information on a new housing gap study
  • April Events & Classes Schedule
  • Thank you to RPAC investors

and more!

Right click here or the cover image to the right and click “Save as” to download

huge pit between person and a house on front page of spring magazine cover

Spotsylvania looking to restrict Annual Subdivisions of lots

Please see below for an update on an issue that the builders are tracking that could impact property owners trying to subdivide their lots.  Spotsylvania County is looking to amend its subdivision ordinance that currently allows 1 division per year for up to 6 total lots down to just 1 lifetime division plus the remainder parcel.  This could be a huge impact for property owners who intended to sell off pieces over time to fund retirement, medical care, college, etc.  If you’re concerned about this change, consider turning out to the upcoming Planning Commission meeting.

Spotsylvania Planning Commission
April 3, 2024 at 6:00 PM
Board of Supervisors Meeting Room
9104 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania, Virginia, 22553

The proposed amendments are as follows:

  1. Renaming the Annual Exempt Division as the Single-Exempt Lot Division.
  2. Reducing the potential number of lots created per parcel under this provision from 5 to 1, plus the remainder.
  3. Setting the date of the ordinance as July 1, 2024.
  4. Establishing the Single-Exempt Lot minimum lot size as 3 acres, with the remainder lot conforming to the conventional lot size for the zoning district.

Additional Background/Other Considerations: Annual Divisions were adopted as part of the Exempt provisions of the Subdivision Ordinance on March 10, 2009. The provision allows one division of land per year from parcels in Rural, Resort, and Agricultural zones creating up to five new lots over time from each eligible parcel. The code amendment occurred during the economic downturn and the intent was to allow a farmer or larger land holder in the rural areas to sell some land in order to generate income to maintain their rural or agricultural property.  When adopted, the ordinance capped the number of annual lots that could be created each year to 100.  The County has not come anywhere close to this threshold over the last few years.

While these changes may seem innocuous at first glance, they could severely restrict the ability to develop land efficiently and cost-effectively. Here are some key talking points to consider when advocating against these amendments at the upcoming planning commission meeting :

  1. Economic Impact: Restricting the number of lots created per parcel limits the potential return on investment for developers and property owners. This could discourage investment in new developments, ultimately stunting economic growth in our community.
  2. Property Rights: These amendments infringe upon property owners’ rights to utilize their land as they see fit within existing zoning regulations. Limiting the number of lots that can be created per parcel restricts property owners’ ability to maximize the value of their assets.
  3. Housing Affordability: These amendments could drive up the cost of housing in our area by decreasing lot yield. Decreasing available and buildable lots will result in higher home prices, making homeownership less accessible for working families and young professionals.
  4. Competitive Disadvantage: Large developers with more resources may be better positioned to absorb the impact of these amendments or seek alternative development opportunities. Small home builders, on the other hand, may struggle to compete in a market where their ability to maximize land use is constrained.

Local Real Estate Market Continues Strong Showing in February

The February real estate market continued the trend of increasing prices and falling demand, but also showed some promising signs for the those waiting for more inventory with a slight increase in active listings and a large increase in new listings compared to last year.  Median price was up nearly 4% year-over-year coming in at $435,000 this February compared to $419,900 last year.  Total sold volume remained static from last February coming in at approximately $157 million, a scant 1% decrease from 2023 numbers.  Units sold fell by 6% year-over-year compared to last February with 335 homes selling last month compared to 358 in 2023. 

“I find the present condition of our real estate market to be quite promising,” states FAAR Board of Director Tamar Myers-Moffatt.  “A growing number of homeowners appear ready to place their properties on the market, and there is a noticeable increase in active listings becoming available.  The open houses that I have hosted have steady streams of buyers who seem prepared to proceed. My buyers are encouraged by the quality of homes available but are still faced with multiple offer scenarios.”

The real estate market is highly sensitive to even small fluctuations in mortgage rates and the dip in rates that started the year turned into many more buyers coming out.  That increased competition was reflected in homes spending less time on the market than last February.  Days on market, the time it takes from when a listing enters the market until it receives a ratified contract and is removed from active status on the multiple listing service decreased 10% going from 40 days last February to 36 this year.

Active listings, new listings, and new pending contracts all increased for the first time since 2022, but available homes remain in chronically short supply and well-below pre-2020 levels.  Active listings increased nearly 2%, with 661 homes on the market compared to 649 homes closing out last February.  For comparison, there were 1,140 properties on the market at the end of February 2020 so the market is currently running at half of what was typical before the pandemic.  While the most recent active listings increase is very small, there was encouraging news in new listings.  The market saw a 32% increase of homes coming on the market this February with only 393 homes listed for sale at the end of February in 2023 compared to 520 new home listings this year.  New pending contracts were up 8% with 468 pending transactions this February compared to 433 last year.

Myers-Moffatt continues, “All of my current buyers have a home to sell, so finding that next property is a point of concern. Leveraging post-occupancy addendums certainly helps, however many of the offers we receive also have home sale contingencies.  This puts the seller in an especially vulnerable position when formulating their exit strategy for a new property.  I think we can expect to see this trend continue through the spring and summer months.”  

 

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Denise Benedetto

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Denise Benedetto

The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® Member Spotlight feature allows members of the community to get to know each other before working with each other in a transaction. Each member answers a series of questions to reveal more about themselves as people.  It is FAAR’s hope that learning about an individual may spark connections that blossom via email, phone conversations or in-person meetings at events and classes.

Name
Denise Benedetto

Hometown
Washington, D.C.

Current Location
Foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains

Title
REALTOR®, PSA, LHC, Notary, Co-Broker Saba Group, CRE

Why do you love working in real estate?
Working in real estate is a fulfilling journey filled with daily surprises. It provides a unique chance to engage with people deeply and help them achieve their residential and commercial aspirations. Building trust within the communities I serve is immensely rewarding and speaks volumes regardless of market conditions.

Favorite Work Story 
A client intended to purchase a residential property located at 1902 ½ Street, featuring two bedrooms and two baths. However, during the home inspection and appraisal, both parties mistakenly visited the property at 1902 Street, which was also on the market. Fortunately, we recognized the absence of the “1/2” in the address and prevented the buyer from inadvertently purchasing the property at 1902 Street, which already had a pending buyer!

What are you most proud of in your career?
I take great pride in the growth I’ve achieved as an agent, thanks to the invaluable guidance of my mentors at SAMSON Properties and the leadership at FAAR. My affiliation with these esteemed organizations underscores the high standards of professionalism, depth of industry knowledge, and unwavering commitment to service they uphold. Engaging in committee and community service through these platforms ensures that I stay current and continue to be a valuable resource for individuals seeking expert assistance in buying, leasing, or selling real estate.

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time? 
While I may not champion a specific cause, I am actively involved in volunteering. I hold the position of Secretary within my community’s HOA and serve as the Chair of the Landscape Committee. Additionally, I am a Committee Member of the Orange County Tourism Advisory Committee. Within FAAR, I contribute to three committees. Furthermore, I engage in public speaking and performances related to American history, serve as a mobile notary, and fulfill duties as an Officer of Election.

Fun Fact
I absolutely love the phrase “Go Fly A Kite” because I take it quite literally! I have a collection of kites in different sizes, made of various materials, and featuring diverse shapes. I even have some extras to share with others. Whenever the sun is shining and the wind is just right, you’ll often find me out there, soaring high! It’s not just about play; it’s a magical escape that allows me to daydream and take a little getaway, even if it’s just for a short time.

benedetto, denise REALTOR®

2024 Real Estate Market Kicks Off with a Bang

The local housing market started the year out with a bang, racking up year-over-year increases in units sold and total dollar volume for the first time in nearly two years.  January closed with approximately $153 million in total sales volume, an almost 8% increase since last January.  Sold volume was fueled by a nearly 7% year-over-year increase in units sold, coming in at 324 homes sold this January compared to 303 last year.  This is the first time the market has seen an annual increase in units sold since April of 2022.  Median price increased a modest 3% coming in at $432,000 this January compared to $419,900 last year. 

“Our region is still experiencing limited inventory, and the tension between low buyer demand and even lower seller activity is keeping upward pressure on home prices,” comments FAAR Board of Director Meghan Kala.  “Median home prices in every locale continue to rise and our fringe areas are no exception. Buyers should look at these year-over-year prices as an indication that ‘the bubble isn’t going to burst’.”

Days on market, the time it takes from when a listing enters the market until it receives a ratified contract and is removed from active status on the multiple listing service stayed nearly static from last year, going from 38 days last January to 39 days this year.  Nearly a third of homes on the market sold in 10 days or less. 

Active listings, new listings, and new pending transactions were all down in January with just 634 homes on the market at the close of the month, the lowest since February of 2022.  New pending sales were down more than 17% with 383 homes under contract compared to 464 last January.  New listings stayed static from last year continuing the trend of diminishing new product coming onto the market.  The region saw 476 homes listed last January compared to 467 this year, a nearly 2% decline.

Sellers continue to sit on the sidelines to see what mortgage interest rates are going to do.  Kala comments, “As growth and development in the Fredericksburg region continues, the parallel that has consistently remained the same is the immediate need for homes. Sellers could be sitting on a mountain of equity and are ready to downsize, but they are uncertain if the time is right to list. The question they may ask themselves is – where will I go? As a result, we may see an increase of home sale contingencies in transactions. We are still experiencing multiple offer scenarios, which should encourage sellers who are getting ready to put their home on the market. Many buyers have been enjoying the security of contingencies in the slower market, but those days may be numbered if rates decline. Attainability, especially for first time home buyers, could prove to be challenging if they continue to wait.”

 

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Melissa Longton

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Melissa Longton

The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® Member Spotlight feature allows members of the community to get to know each other before working with each other in a transaction. Each member answers a series of questions to reveal more about themselves as people.  It is FAAR’s hope that learning about an individual may spark connections that blossom via email, phone conversations or in-person meetings at events and classes.

Name
Melissa Longton

Hometown
Clifton Park, New York

Current Location
Stafford, Virginia

Title
Realtor® & Dog Lover

Why do you love working in real estate?
I love working in real estate because it’s all about connecting with people, understanding their dreams, and helping them achieve homeownership goals. The joy of turning those aspirations into reality is what makes every day in this field truly fulfilling.

Favorite Work Story
I have a few, The really good ones are Top Secret… I like to refer to them as Mis-Ådventures

What are you most proud of in your career?
I’m most proud of seamlessly assisting numerous families in relocating, ensuring a smooth transition during a crucial time in their lives. Helping them settle into new homes and communities brings me immense satisfaction, and it’s a privilege to play a role in such significant life changes.

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time? 
I’m a passionate advocate for small business owners and locally owned establishments. Devoting time to volunteering at our local food bank is something I hold dear. Additionally, for the past five years, I’ve been contributing to my clients’ chosen charities on their behalf, fostering a sense of community and giving back.

Fun Fact
A fun fact about me is my deep affection for animals, particularly dogs. My 5-pound teacup Yorkie holds a special place in my heart and is my cherished best friend #justfrankiebeingfrank

Melissa Longton headshot
#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Bethany Neher

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Bethany Neher

The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® Member Spotlight feature allows members of the community to get to know each other before working with each other in a transaction. Each member answers a series of questions to reveal more about themselves as people.  It is FAAR’s hope that learning about an individual may spark connections that blossom via email, phone conversations or in-person meetings at events and classes.

Name
Bethany Neher

Hometown
Hampton

Current Location
Fredericksburg

Title
REALTOR®

Why do you love working in real estate?
I love meeting and helping new people. I love the diversity in the day to day hustle of this career.

What are you most proud of in your career?
My career is only just beginning but so far, I am proud of how quickly I am learning and feeling good about my start. I have a great team behind me, I have my first client which happens to be a million-dollar client and I am looking forward to everything I am going to accomplish in this career.

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time? 
I don’t like to stick to one cause necessarily. I like to pick a couple every year that I dedicate my time to. So far this year I have connected with a woman that runs an animal rescue and I plan to devote a lot of time to her and her cause in the coming months.

Tina Keene Exit Elite Realty

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Kendric Walpole

#MemberMonday Meet REALTOR® Kendric Walpole

The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® Member Spotlight feature allows members of the community to get to know each other before working with each other in a transaction. Each member answers a series of questions to reveal more about themselves as people.  It is FAAR’s hope that learning about an individual may spark connections that blossom via email, phone conversations or in-person meetings at events and classes.

Name
Kendric Walpole

Hometown
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Current Location
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Title
Realtor®

Why do you love working in real estate?
I love working in real estate, because it gives me the opportunity to help people I just met. This industry has us constantly getting to know numerous people throughout a transaction. However, I most like the ability to help first time home buyers navigate through the process. It is always a privilege to share in their excitement!

What are you most proud of in your career?
I am most proud of the personal development that this career has provided. Being a Realtor forces an individual to be proactive rather than just reactive. You also get to learn so much throughout your experiences, whether interpersonal communication skills or landscaping techniques to divert water from a house. There is just so much growth to be had.

Do you have a special cause or volunteer your time? 
Currently I am volunteering as the Community Services Manager with FAAR’s Young Professionals Network (YPN). I spent many years of my life growing up doing community service activities such as cleaning the river, refurbishing picnic areas at local battlefields, food drives, and more. I am glad that I have the opportunity, and help, to dive into that again with YPN!

Fun Fact
A fun fact about me is that I used to be a professional performer in live theater. I sang, danced, and acted for over 10 years of my life. Though I haven’t done anything like that in a few years, the real estate profession does give the schedule flexibility to perform. There may be something like that again for me in the future.

Tina Keene Exit Elite Realty

Press Releases

2024 Real Estate Market Kicks Off with a Bang

The local housing market started the year out with a bang, racking up year-over-year increases in units sold and total dollar volume for the first time in nearly two years.  January closed with approximately $153 million in total sales volume, an almost 8% increase...

2023 Housing Market Plagued by Low Inventory, Volatile Interest Rates

The local housing market finished the year with low inventory, high prices, and falling demand, trends that started in 2022 and accelerated throughout 2023.  “The real estate market in the Fredericksburg area saw a continuation of low inventory issues in 2023,” states...

FAAR Welcomes the 2024 Association Leadership Team

The Fredericksburg Area Association of REALTORS® (FAAR) celebrated the installation of its 2024 Board of Directors at Stevenson Ridge on December 7, 2023. The Association under the leadership of 2023 President Carol Sondrini of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed...

November sees same trends hold in local real estate market

As 2023 draws to a close, the Fredericksburg regional housing market is experiencing much of the same as the last few months. Prices continue to rise against a backdrop of falling demand, stubbornly low housing supply, and volatile interest rates. Total sold dollar...

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