Texas Man Sentenced to Decade in Prison for Swindling $1 Million 

Shawn Johnson, a 42-year-old man that lives in Dallas, TX has been sentenced to a decade in prison for a scheme in which he tricked victims into investing with him in ventures that did not exist.  

How Johnson Received Investment from Victims 

Johnson would lie to victims about his professional background, his contacts with celebrities, and his personal net worth, in order to induce them to invest in the scheme. 

He would claim to be involved in financing for major events, including a party in Washington for the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, a world tour by the singer Rihanna, and even the 2015 fight between boxing champs Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.  

Johnson was the ultimate conman that understood his victims and how to “sell” them on credible events. He would go to great lengths to make investors believe in his wealth and success. According to court filings, Johnson would arrive at business meetings in expensive custom suits, stepping out of a Rolls Royce driven by a personal chauffeur.  

While this seems far-fetched and clearly not legitimate, Johnson would have his “assistant” send investors promissory notes that guaranteed their return on investments. This small token of promise was enough to swindle investors for a total of $1 million. Even if a victim could only invest a few thousand dollars, Johnson would take it.  

However, according to federal authorities, there was never an assistant and the promise of high returns (up to 40%) was a complete lie.  

Like most con artists we’ve covered in previous blogs, this investor money went directly into Johnson’s pockets and fueled his lavish lifestyle. He purchased luxury vehicles, designer clothes, parties at nightclubs, tickets for sporting events, and gambling at casinos.  

“For over ten years, the defendant made his living swindling people out of money – lots of people and lots of money,” prosecutors wrote in court papers arguing for the stiffest sentence possible. “He was a professional con-man who used his good-natured and seemingly relaxed personality to endear himself to unsuspecting people and gained their confidence through a mix of friendly banter and schoolyard braggadocio.” 

As most of these cases go, the victims are always the ones that are hurt the most. Prosecutors say that many of the investors have lost thousands of dollars, life savings, had their credit ruined, or were forced into foreclosure or bankruptcy as a result of his schemes. 

Texas Con Duped Dozens for Fake Investment Scheme

How to Avoid Real Estate Scams 

Reading about scammers who prey on unaware victims can be disheartening and discouraging, but take it as a lesson to be wary as you conduct business in the real estate world.  

Do your research on common real estate scams, and be cautious as you work to protect yourself and your clients. As the saying goes, if it seems too good to be true, chances are it is.  

Article courtesy of our Affliate partner – TheCESHop.com

House Hacking – Quick Intro

Check out the quick tip on House hacking from my partner/affiliate.

5 People You’ll Meet as a First-Time Homebuyer

Let’s Learn About the Professionals Involved in the Homebuying Process 

For many first-time homebuyers, navigating the real estate industry and the homebuying process can feel overwhelming. That’s totally understandable — after all, a home is often the largest purchase that a buyer will make in their lifetime. But the journey to homeownership can also be incredibly exciting, and the more you learn about the process, the better prepared you’ll be. 

Today, we’re going to be talking about the various professionals that you’ll encounter on your homebuying journey. 

uyer’s Agent 

Your real estate agent is the person that you’ll be spending the most time with as you search for and ultimately purchase a home. Your agent’s job is to advise you and advocate for you through the entire homebuying process, from touring homes to closing on your dream home. Your agent has extensive knowledge of the real estate industry and will be your most valuable resource. 

The terms “real estate agent” and “REALTOR®” are often used interchangeably, but they actually mean different things. A real estate agent is an individual licensed to assist people in selling, purchasing, or renting property, while a REALTOR® is any licensed real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. 

Seller’s Agent 

When you make an offer on a home, the seller will also be represented by a real estate agent, also known as the listing agent. You might not be directly interacting with this agent very often, but they will be working behind the scenes to advise the seller up until the day you close on the home. 

Mortgage Loan Officer 

Unless you’re able to pay for your home entirely in cash, you’re going to be working with a Mortgage Loan Officer or a Mortgage Loan Originator to finance your new home.  

An MLO is a financial professional who helps applicants acquire loans when purchasing property. They guide clients through the mortgage approval process from the beginning of their loan application to closing on the property itself. 

Home Inspector 

When you’re buying a home, it’s often a good idea to make your offer contingent on the results of an inspection

An inspection is intended to assess the condition of the home and uncover potential damage or safety issues. A qualified home inspector will examine the property top to bottom, from its plumbing and electrical work to its roof and foundation. They might recommend repairs or notify you if something isn’t up to current code. 

Home Appraiser 

A home appraisal, which determines the fair market value for the home, is often going to be required by your mortgage lender. The appraiser, typically required by state law to be an independent third party, will consider the general condition of the home, any upgrades made to the home, and comparable properties in the area to determine if the price you’ve agreed to pay for the home is fair. 

And Many More 

Of course, this list doesn’t cover all the professionals you’ll encounter on your journey to buy a home. There are plenty of other people that you’re likely to meet along the way, including employees at the title company and insurance company that you end up working with.  

But we hope that this helps you understand the homebuying process a bit better! 

Courtesy of OMREALTYGROUP.THECESHOP.COM

TESLA IS EXPANDING MORE IN TEXAS. GOOD NEWS FOR HOUSTONIANS!!

As per Houston Chronicle news released 1/12/2023, Tesla appears to be preparing a large new industrial facility west of Houston in a project that further deepens the electric vehicle-maker’s investments in Texas about a year after billionaire Elon Musk moved its headquarters to Austin.

Little is known about Tesla’s plans, but the Fortune 500 company signed a lease late last year for about 1.03 million square feet at 111 Empire West, part of the 300-acre Empire West Business Park in Brookshire, according to research reports from real estate brokerages Cushman & Wakefield and Savills. The landlord and developer of the park, Dallas-based Stream Realty Partners, declined to comment. Tesla officials did not respond to a request for comment. 

A certificate of occupancy issued by the city of Brookshire in October names Tesla in Building 9 at Empire West, about 6 miles west of Katy and 36 miles west of downtown Houston.

LOOKING 2022 IN THE REAR VIEW MIRROR & 2023 OUTLOOK

2022 was a tale of two halves. January through May/June was one type of market, and July through December was a very different market. Below was report released by Biggerpockets this month and I had to concur with their outlook. They been doing really good job analyzing all different data points and helping investors.

Through the first half of 2022, we saw a continuation of the wild appreciation that defined 2021. Every major variable that influences housing prices was putting upward pressure on the market. Inventory was almost non-existent. And, of course, mortgage rates were historically low. 

But then, things changed. In March of 2022, the Federal Reserve started raising the federal funds rate, pushing up bond yields and mortgage rates. The change of policy actually spiked demand as homebuyers and sellers rushed to transact before the full impact of higher mortgage rates were felt. This, combined with normal seasonality, allowed the party to continue and for prices to continue going up for a few extra months.

Eventually, the impact of skyrocketing mortgage rates took hold. Already facing ultra-high home prices, higher mortgage rates priced many homebuyers out of the market, and demand fell. When demand falls, inventory tends to rise, which is exactly what happened.

Some of the decline since June is seasonal, but as of December 2022, prices are down almost 10% off their May peak, and a typical seasonal decline is 5%-7%. The descent from the summer peak was deeper in 2022. 

It’s worth noting that although prices are declining, they are not in free fall. Prices remain up year-over-year, and inventory has started to moderate. Mortgage rates have come down from October to December, and there are signs that the drop-off is becoming less steep. At this point, we remain in a correction, but not a crash. 

2023 Outlook

Will we see a continuation of the downward trend we’re in now? Will things get worse? Or could the market reverse? 

Again it can be tale of two halves. First half of 2023, we’ll see a continuation of the market we’re in now: sellers don’t want to sell, and buyers don’t want to buy. Of course, deals are still underway, but I expect sales volume to remain well below what we’ve seen for the last 7-10 years. Even though inflation is moderating, there remains too much uncertainty in the economy for the market to stabilize fully.

Hopefully, during the first half of 2023, we will see inflation come down and get more clarity about what is happening with the global economy. But what really matters for housing volume and home prices is about one thing: affordability. If housing stays as unaffordable as it is now, sales volume and appreciation will stay low. If affordability recovers, you can expect the housing market to stabilize and perhaps even see a modest recovery in the second half of 2023. 

So if you are buyer, you could wait out of bit unless you have killer deal waiting for you. If you are seller, I would say go ahead start work towards putting the property in market during summer which could be decent time even with expected fluctuation in the market.

Let’s hope for the best and another decent year!!