Real Estate Scams Now Hitting Zillow, 5 Ways to Avoid Being Targeted

I’ve posted before about the ridiculous rental scams that plague unsuspecting home buyers. These scams were previously limited to sites like Craigslist, but have now taken to top name real estate sites like Zillow as well.  Zillow allows owners to post their for sale by owner, con artists are now abusing this privilege by using it as their new playground. Here’s what you need to do to steer clear:

5- If its too good to be true, its too good to be true.
I saw a for sale by owner house on Zillow today for $23,000 in Birmingham, MI. This was very clearly, false. A quick MLS search showed the home was actually valued and listed at $349,000. The scammers target homes that are listed, but clearly vacant, and then copy the listing and photos over to a new posting with an unbelievable price to lure you into giving them a cash down payment.
If the price isn’t in line with the market value, its not likely to be real.

4- Verify All Data
Before meeting with the “seller” get their name, phone number, email and whatever other information you can get and google it all. See if you find any inconsistencies. Google the address of the property and see if its listed somewhere else for a different price. Check the address in the white pages and see who it lists as living there. BUT that usually isn’t even enough, a recent craigslist scam had the con artists actually signing their emails with the real owners name!

3- Read Between The Lines
A majority of these scams come from our of the country, places such as Nigeria. When reading their emails, you will usually see inconsistencies in their English and the way they write. Many times they are using translating software that translates their emails into English, but since most languages don’t translate word for word, you are usually able to tell if that is the case.

2- Never Give Cash
You should never in any large transaction be it a car or a house, give someone cash. It should always be a money order or certified check that is attached to a tracking #. A lot of times con artists will insist on cash only, that is a good indicator they are scamming you. Asking you to wire money is also a very good hint that it’s a scam. The tracking #s on money orders and certified checks still don’t trace down the person, but it’s a step in the right direction if you do find yourself in a bad situation.

And the #1 piece of advise to avoid a real estate scam

1- Hire a Realtor!
As a renter/buyer you don’t pay the realtors commission, so there is no benefit to you of not using a professional in your house hunt and is you’re best change against avoiding a scam.
NOTE: Zillow (and most sites) have a “FLAG LISTING” or “REPORT LISTING” option. If you suspect a listing is fake, flag it! They will investigate and remove it.


Margo Borkin
Real Estate One
$10,000,000 Sold in 2013

6960 Orchard Lake #150 West Bloomfield, MI 48322 | 248-419-3160 | 248-419-0930 fax
2013 Hour Magazine Real Estate ALL STAR –
Presidents Council of Excellence

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November Market Update from Real Estate One President

Hi Friends! Below is our monthly market update from President of Brokerage Services here at Real Estate One, Dan Elsea.

Like September, October was a pleasant surprise outperforming our expectations in terms of homes sold. We continue to see the same trends: For Sale inventories are increasing and the rate of appreciation is still strong, but at lower rates. Most of the strength in the market is in the under $500,000 segments. We have seen a rather significant drop in showing activity in the upper end markets (over $500,000) with showings per listing dropping over 30% compared to October of last year. In part, this is influenced by more listings to choose from which spreads buyers across a larger inventory. For upper end sellers, it means fewer showings per week (under one per week versus near two last year on average) and a slower pace for offers. The rate of showings per listing has fallen across the other price ranges as well (about 20%), but not as dramatic as the upper end markets. The actual number of showings in the $300,000 to $500,000 price range has actually risen over the past 90 days, showing that there are still pent-up buyers entering the market, but since there are more listings on the market in the $300-500k market it will still seem slow to a seller even with those additional buyers.

For the next few months the market will feel quite a bit slower due to a combination of more listings on the market and the normal seasonal showing activity slowdown. There will still be a brisk rate of sales compared to historical winter months. Depending on our winter weather, we may actually see a nice jump in winter sales in early 2015 compared to this past winter (no winter could be tougher than the last one, so winter activity will be no worse, only equal or better).

Looking at things from a historical perspective shows how far we have come from the 2008 market bottom. Reflecting back on the 90’s, we can see what to expect once the market settles back to normal. Case-Shiller appreciation rates are typically the most accurate, although we feel its numbers for Southeast Michigan are low compared to what we see happening. With that being said, the data does represent a good trend line since the early 90’s.
Real Estate Market Update





There is a concern in the market that the pent-up demand created by the housing recession has been released, with the expectation of falling sales and values as we move back to a less frenzied “catch up” market.  The chart below takes a stab at showing where that pent-up demand went. The chart uses national data, but we applied our local flavor, adjusting for foreclosure rates (we were higher than most) and rate of recovery (we were faster than most). It shows that the market got ahead of itself compared to the historical normal sales rates in 2004-2006 and then fell significantly below the norm in 2007-2012. The combined “downs” (in red) exceed the “ups” (in green) showing that it is logical there is still some of that demand projected to be released over the next 3-4 years. Assuming our economy continues in a positive direction, housing demand should be either equal to or above the historical trend over the next few years.
Real Estate Market Update








How To: Finding your dream home

House hunting can be challenging, especially in a seller’s market when there are more buyers then homes available.  Assuming a home is priced right and well marketed, it will sell very quickly, and as a buyer you need to be ready to jump on an opportunity when it presents itself. You should know what you want, but at the same time, not be too picky. I always tell buyers, if you can get 4 out of the 5 things you wanted, you won.

Location Location Location

Location is one of the things that you can not change. Your first and main search priority should be the location you want. Is it close to work and friends. Do you like the school district (even if it doesn’t apply to you consider resale value). Is it near parks or entertainment venues you frequent. I would never suggest compromising on the location.

Floor Plan and Size

The size & floor plan should be conducive to your current family size. While you can tear down walls and add on to the house, these are costly modifications. So its okay to be picky when it comes to floor plan & find what’s going to work for you.


Focus on what you can’t change. If you need a basement, you can’t add one later. But restricting yourself to only looking at home with a finished basement WILL hinder your search & cut your possibilities in half. This is something you can change at a later date for a reasonable amount of money.


While it can be very distracting to walk in a house with Neon Green paint or wallpaper, try your best to look past it and envision the house in your colors. If the house has the perfect location & the perfect floor plan, but has neon green paint. Buy the house! While you may spend a couple thousand having the house professionally repainted, you likely saved double that on the sales price.

Known when to compromise

If most homes in your price range have 3 Bedrooms and 1 Bath, waiting for that 2 bath home may cost you. In a market when prices and interest rates are rising, your search should be based on truly “must haves” and keep the “nice to haves” as a bonus.
So if you’re current home search isn’t producing enough of the right  results, it might be time to broaden your criteria. Go through your requirements and determine the “must haves” and “nice to haves” and you might find quite a few more possible homes available!


Margo Borkin
Real Estate One
$14,000,000 Sold in 2014
6960 Orchard Lake #150 West Bloomfield, MI 48322 | 248-419-3160 |
2014 Hour Magazine ALL STAR – Presidents Council of Excellence
Website ::: Facebook ::: Twitter ::: Google+ ::: Linked In ::: Blog ::: Pinterest

© Margo Borkin Real Estate
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Is your house saleable? Here’s 5 easy steps to get ready to list!

When its time to sell your house, there is likely only one thing on your mind, getting the most money possible. The easiest and most inexpensive ways to do this are mostly DIY and be completed in a weekend. But are crucially important for a quick sale at the highest price!

1. Deep Cleaning.
The little dust here and there that you might not even notice anymore, could be a turn off to buyers. Clean the baseboards around the whole house, the return air ducts that tend to collect dust, and do a thorough cleaning including moving and cleaning under furniture and appliances. Whiten grout lines and recaulk where needed.

2. Pack and Toss
Closets and Cabinet area’s show better if they are half empty and look spacious. Get rid of or pack up as much as you can live without while your selling. It will save you time in the end anyway, and will really appeal to buyers!

3. Don’t over-do the upgrades
If you make many custom to-your-taste updates, the buyers may not like your taste, and you may not see a return. The two cheapest investments you can make with the most return is paint and carpet. A neutral houses with fresh paint and carpet looks bright, open, and spacious! And crosses two things off the buyers to-do list. If you want to keep going, little things like new outlet covers, shined up door knobs, and updated faucets really turn buyers heads.

4. De-Personalize Your House
Buyers need to picture themselves in your house, and while I know how hard it is to put away all your families memorabilia and photos, it does tremendously help in the sale of a house, so lets start packing those items up. Now is also a good time to remove any fixtures you don’t intend to include in the sale. Light fixtures, mirrors, anything affixed to the property stays. If something has sentimental value, you should remove it now and replace it with something generic.

5. Organize Organize Organize
We realize you do have to keep some of your everyday stuff in the house while you sell 🙂 so anything that can’t be packed or toss should be neatly organized. It makes your home appear well cared for. Believe it or not, buyers will open all your closets and cupboards to picture their things in there. So make sure yours are as organized and as pretty as possible. Pinterest has loads of organization ideas you can use.

If your not sure where to start or what to tackle, feel free to have me or your own realtor come out and give you an outside opinion  before listing.

Margo Borkin

Real Estate One
$10,000,000 Sold in 2013

6960 Orchard Lake #150 West Bloomfield, MI 48322 | 248-419-3160 | 1-248-419-0930 fax
2014 Hour Magazine Real Estate ALL STAR – Presidents Council of Excellence
Website ::: Facebook ::: Twitter ::: Google+ ::: Linked In ::: Blog ::: Pinterest


Halloween: 10 Fun Facts!

1. Halloween is the 2nd highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas

2. Samhainophobia is the official fear of Halloween

3. The First Jack O’Lanterns were actually turnips

4. The world record for Largest Pumpkin was recently broken in 2013 with a 2032lb pumpkin!

5. Harry Houdini, on of the most mysterious magicians, died on Halloween.

6. Boston, MA holds the record for the most Jack O’Lanterns lit at one time, over 30k!!

7. When Trick-or-Treating first started in the US, kids choose tricks over treats! It wasn’t until the 50’s that candy became the focus of the holiday.

8. Candy Corn is made with Marshmallow!

9. The top producing pumpkin states are Illinois, California, New York, and Ohio based on a 2010 study.

10. We’re (in Michigan) suppose to get snow this year for Halloween.  Yep, Snow…



13680 Kingston Oak Park, MI 48237

Just Listed this gorgeously updated bungalow home in great North Oak Park location. All the work has been done for you! Finished basement with family room, lav, and tons of extra storage. Spacious kitchen and bathroom both recently updated. Stainless appliances included. Gorgeous attention to detail through-out with cove ceilings & custom trim and finishes. Tons of Character. Open floor plan. Over Sized garage. Newer roof. Updated plumbing and electrical. All with-in walking distance to shopping, parks, and places of worship




  • 3 Bedrooms
  • 1.5 Bathrooms
  • 1055 SqFt
  • Built in 1948
  • 1 Car Detached Garage
  • Finished Basement

    For more information on this and other Oak Park Homes for Sale visit my website at or contact me now![contact-form to=’’ subject=’Interested in 13680 Kingston from your Blog’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Phone’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Ready to Buy a House, But Not Sure Where to Start?

Here is your 5-step plan for becoming a home buyer in this crazy market!

Buying a HouseStep 1

Get a comprehensive picture of your finances. Sit down with pen & paper and go over your current income vs. expenses. After subtracting any expenses that will go away when you move to a new house, determine how much you would be comfortable spending per month for a new mortgage & housing expenses. Keep in mind things like utilities which will go up or down depending on where you move to. Are you thinking about condos? You should budget $200-$300/Month for an association fee, but may also get the added value of not having a water bill!


Step 2

Evaluate your credit. Most loan programs require a 620-640 minimum score. If you think your credit might need some repair, don’t attempt yourself! Consumers often make credit decisions that end up hurting more then helping, such as closing credit cards, in certain situations this could (temporarily) lower your credit score for a few months. If your goal is to get your credit into a home buying position, call a lender. Their first step is running your credit report, and from there, if your score isn’t in line with current requirements they will give you advice on what steps to take and when to maximize your credit potential!


Step 3

Get pre-approved. One the money and credit are figured out, get your pre-approval letter ready! In this fast paced market, homes sell very quickly, your realtor will want to have this letter on hand and ready to go should the right house come along. Tell your lender what you’d like to pay per month for principal, interest, taxes, and insurance. They will tell you what price range to target, as well as what loan type is best for you.


Step 4

Hire a Buyers Agent. Don’t just browse the web calling the first agent you see. You need someone that will represent YOU and what you are looking for. Lucky for you I happen to know a great one; Check out my home buyers page


Step 5

Make an Offer. Your agent will advise you on market conditions, comparables, and what the estimate value of the house you’re interested in is by using our MLS database to research the area solds & finding those most similar to the one you would like to write an offer on. In a sellers market, you will find that most homes go at or near their asking price if not even over. And many end up in multiple offer bidding wars. For this reason, making a “low ball” offer in a sellers market may cost you the house. In a buyers market, the ball is in your court, and you have a little more room to wiggle.


Phew… That was a lot to take in huh? Once you digest that, feel free to email me with any questions about the buying process, and head over to the home buyers portal to get started! Already pre-approved? Hop right onto my Dream Home Finder and lets get you set up with a property search!!


Margo Borkin
Real Estate One
$14,000,000 Sold in 2014
6960 Orchard Lake #150 West Bloomfield, MI 48322 | 248-419-3160 |
2014 Hour Magazine ALL STAR – Presidents Council of Excellence
Website ::: Facebook ::: Twitter ::: Google+ ::: Linked In ::: Blog ::: Pinterest

© Margo Borkin Real Estate
If you’re viewing this information on a site owned by someone other than Margo Borkin Real Estate, it has been stolen. Please report to us here.

Fall Maintenance Checklist

Whether we like it or not, Fall is here. As are the associated chilly temperatures. Now is the time to get your home winter ready and in tip top shape to withstand, what is rumored to possible be, a worse winter than last year!! Below is a lit of suggest fall maintenance items

On the Exterior

– Clean Gutters and Downspouts
– Check for missing or loose shingles and secure where needed
– Insulate, Caulk, and Weatherstrip all windows and doors where needed
– Mulch the Fall leaves to blanket flower beds and compost piles
– Split perenials and plant your spring bulbs
– Trim and Prune Bushes and tree’s for healthy spring growth
– Mice begin nesting in September, block off any holes they could access your house/garage/shed
– Have sprinkler System Winterized
– Remove hoses from exterior faucets, turn off interior shut offs, and drain
– Stock up on Winter Storm Supplies and bring them inside or near the house where they will be easily accessible
– Check attic ridge vents to make sure they are free of debris and blockage to prevent ice dams on the roof

On the Interior

– Clean dust from dryer vent, a/c, stove hood, room fans, baseboard heaters and cold air returns
– Have fireplace flue & lines cleaned
– Check attic insulation and make sure vents aren’t blocked from the inside
– Finished any touch up paint projects while its still warm enough to open windows
– Test all smoke and carbon detectors, replace batteries where needed
– Test emergency generator system
– Caulk and weatherstrip around doors windows and holes where needed
– Reverse ceiling fans to spin clockwise once you start running the furnace for maximum efficiency
– If you will be leaving for any extended period of time, you should have you house winterized.
If there is a power outage in the middle of winter, it could take only a day for your pipes to freeze solid,
The cost of winterizing your home pales in comparison to the damage that would be done from frozen pipes.

This is a list of suggest home maintenance items and is not intended to be the only maintenance items you should consider. You should consult with a licensed contractor to ensure the best plan for your home, and never attempt home repairs that should otherwise be completed by a professional.

Margo Borkin
Real Estate One
$14,000,000 Sold in 2014
6960 Orchard Lake #150 West Bloomfield, MI 48322 | 248-419-3160 |
2014 Hour Magazine ALL STAR – Presidents Council of Excellence
Website ::: Facebook ::: Twitter ::: Google+ ::: Linked In ::: Blog ::: Pinterest

© Margo Borkin Real Estate
If you’re viewing this information on a site owned by someone other than Margo Borkin Real Estate, it has been stolen. Please report to us here.