A Treasure Lost

2016 will mark my 29th Fairfield County Fair. I love the fair. Lancaster and Fairfield County are near and dear to my heart but the Fairfield County Fair is something. I’ve never been to another county fair so I guess I’m biased but the Fairfield County Fair is the last and the best fair in Ohio. I have heard people say it is better than the Ohio State Fair which I would honestly believe.

cropped-1935530_1692578277665708_1370884275172885302_n.jpg

I love the fair not just for the food and the shows but because I get to see people who I do not see very often. I get to see the pride people take in their hard work over the last year in raising animals, preparing for livestock shows and even growing the county’s tallest sunflower. It is a week long celebration of the heritage and pride we all hold for Fairfield County and Lancaster.

fg-churchI have seen many county fairgrounds before but never have a I seen a grounds that takes pride in preserving our history. The Fairfield County Fairgrounds is lined with historical buildings that once stood proud in various towns and villages throughout the county and then were moved to the fairgrounds to ensure that time will not forget them. There is the Mt. Zion United Brethren Church, the train station, general store, the round cattle barn, and of course the Rolley School House Covered Bridge that was lost in the Spring of 2016.

106285_141950-meThe Fairgounds is not just a staple of Lancaster and Fairfield County history though. It has roots in United States history as well. In the 1860’s during the Civil War, the Fairfield County Fairgrounds were temporarily renamed Camp Anderson and tents and training areas were setup for soldiers.

old-grandstand-1915In 2009, the Fairfield County Agricultural Society and the Fairfield County Commissioners made a decision to demolish a piece of history – the ladies’ grandstand. The ladies’ grandstand was a three story tall structure that originally stood next to the gentlemen’s grandstand on the south side of the horse track. old-grandstandIt was built in 1908 and remained in it’s location until sometime in the 1920’s. In the 1920’s, it was moved to it’s current location on the northeast side of the track.

The grandstand was badly damaged by a wind storm in 2009 and was not structurally safe. Honestly, I do not remember a time when it was safe to occupy except when I was small I remember sitting up there with mom and Nana one year during the fair. Anyway, when the grandstand was slated for demolition in 2009, a group of preservationists got together and were able to raise $100,000 to preserve the structure and make some repairs so that it would not be demolished. The group persevered and the ladies’ grandstand stood for another seven years.

14369891_10202284984721965_8214656706078318051_nIn the early fall of 2016 – September 24 to be exact – a fire was reported at the fairgrounds in the very early hours of that Saturday. When the Lancaster Fire Department arrived, the ladies’ grandstand was fully engulfed in flames. The structure was a total loss and so far the fire seems suspicious.

A piece of Fairfield County’s history; lost forever because of a senseless act.

With the 2016 fair only a couple of weeks away, I imagine that there will be a sense of sadness hanging in the atmosphere this year. For many of us, it feels as if we have lost a dear, old friend. For me, it’ll be sad to walk the outer rim of the fairgrounds and not pass by the ladies’ grandstand and be reminded of an earlier time.

Advertisements

Fraud in Real Estate – Wire Fraud

It sounds technical, but this topic is not. It is about protecting yourself in the day and age of technology. Fraud can happen anywhere and anyone can be a victim. It would seem that the easiest way to gather information from unsuspecting victims is through a method called social engineering.

Fraud

No – it has nothing to do with engineering. In this context, social engineering is the act of using established trust to gain information about someone in order to exploit their technology in a manner that would harm them.

A good example of this in a real estate transaction is wire fraud. You’re currently in contract to buy a house and you receive an email (seemingly) from your Realtor that instructs you to wire $10,000 to the title company in order for the transaction to proceed. Trusting your agent, you call your bank and have the transfer setup to the account indicated in the email you have received. You call your agent to tell them you have transferred the money at which time they state they have never asked you to transfer any money. At this point, let’s hope that the wire transfer can be stopped.

How did this happen though? Social engineering. Likely in this scenario, someone was able to obtain your email login. They then searched your emails and saw that you were currently involved a real estate transaction and then spoofed an email from your real estate agent. It seems quite elaborate just to trick you, however most of the time, the people trying to steal information and money from you are part of a much larger fraud scheme and likely you are one in a group of thousands or tens of thousands that were frauded at the same time.

So how can we avoid this? Well, that is going to require some cooperation on both your part as a buyer or seller and your agent’s part.

  1. When you begin working with an agent, ensure they lay out a communication plan with you. I am always sure to tell my clients that I use many different methods of communication such as phone calls, email, text, and dotloop. TELL YOUR AGENT which you would prefer. If I am going to be sending documents or anything to my client, I generally send it via dotloop or email and then text or call them and tell them I have sent it.
  2. From the agent stand point, we should all have statements in our signatures warning for the potential of wire fraud. The same goes for a confidentiality statement.
  3. Ensure that you are using strong passwords and change them regularly. In the business world, changing your password at least once every 90 days is a standard practice however for the average at home user, once per year is adequate. Use a combination of letters, numbers, symbols and capitalize letters. This ensure better security and they are harder to guess. If you think your account has been compromised, change your password – do not even hesitate. If there is a chance, it is better to be safe than sorry.
  4. Watch out for emails where the sender does not have very good English or has many spelling or grammar issues. And before you click on a link, look at the domain name (something.com) and see if it’s a site you recognize. If you click on a link and it asks for your username and password, I would suggest closing out of it and then typing the website into your address bar yourself instead of using the link.
  5. While most agents would not be dealing with wire transfer, if it does happen, your agent should contact you prior to initiating the transfer. If you receive something asking you to transfer money and you are not sure what it is, call your agent or your title company to verify its legitimacy.
  6. Stay alert of any strange emails you get. With all of the technology used in real estate including email and document management systems, not to mention all of the people who are actually involved in a transaction, it is not out of the question to get messages from people who you do not recognize asking you for documentation or to verify something. If you are not sure of the validity of a communication, do not be afraid to contact your real estate agent or your title agent.

Guys, the bottom line here is to be hyper vigilant and aware of what is going on. If you have questions, ask someone! As a Realtor, if I do not know, I will find out for you. Do not assume anything.

Small Details – Leaded and Stained Glass

As a new agent, I have been given the opportunity to do open houses for other agents in my office. Twice now, I have held an open house at a home on Forest Rose Avenue in Lancaster for my friend, Jackie.

I love this house. It’s so out of place where it sits but then again, it isn’t. If you have ever taken a look at the architecture in Lancaster, you will see that it changes sometimes by block or even from house to house, depending on who built it and in which part of which decade.

The small details in this home are what make it unique. From the white and burgundy tiled floor in the half bath to the almost flawless woodwork – my favorite are the leaded glass windows in the front entry way and the front windows in the living room. Can you imagine the painstaking attention to detail the artist had to have to complete these windows in the house? Or the sheer cost of having those produced custom for the owner at the time?

The home has been upgraded to newer windows everywhere except for several panes of stained glass as well as these leaded glass windows in the front of the house. It’s these small things that makes my heart happy that in modernizing the house, the owners did not erase those windows from the home but instead kept them and added storm windows to insulate and protect the house and those windows.

This home is truly a hidden gem on a side street in Lancaster. If you are in the market for a historic home that is ready to move into, look this one up!