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Ransomware bringing Baltimore housing market to a hold

Posted at 11:18 PM, May 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-15 08:22:02-04

BALTIMORE — The City of Baltimore is being held hostage and the people trying to invest in it are feeling the effects.

RELATED: City continues to fight ransomware attack

The ransomware attack on City Hall has put a halt to home buying and selling in the city.

Joy Sushinsky is an Associate Broker with Long and Foster Real Estate. She said 70-percent of home sales happen from April to November. It’s hitting real estate agents right in the paycheck during what should be one of the busiest times of the year and trickling down into the hopes and dreams of home buyers and sellers.

“They are struggling to find places to continue to rent if they are first-time home buyers,” Sushinsky said. “The sellers are saying I’m supposed to buy another property with these proceeds, and they can’t move on to a different municipality or even a different state.”

Sushinsky had some rough phone calls with clients on Monday because it was the first day that she’s had to tell them that she can start transactions but can’t close. Some of her clients were hoping to close as soon as Tuesday.

“We have a third-party insurer that makes sure that the property is being able to be conveyed free and clear of any of those leans, ” Sushinsky said. “That third party insurer for the title company has said they’re not going to work with Baltimore City until they get this problem solved.”

She said it’s a problem that is getting costlier every day that the city needs to fix as soon as possible.

“When a buyer has to extend a rate lock that’s an average of $75 a day on a $300,000 loan, they’re not really getting anything out of that but the ability to extend their contract. On the flip side sellers are spending full mortgage payments trying to go ahead and keep their house in proper financing until they can actually sell it.”

Home buying momentum was swinging upward in Baltimore. "Live Near Your Work" grants were bringing people in all over the city especially near Hopkins.

The city just had an event offering incentives to first-time home buyers.

“Live Baltimore had an event on Saturday where they were offering $5,000 for first time home buyers in Baltimore City,” Sushinsky said. “Unfortunately, the city is not able to process any of those grants that they were so excited to give out on Saturday.”

Sushinsky said one of the more frustrating things about this whole mess is not being able to tell her clients where to go with their frustration because it is so hard to get a hold of anyone at City Hall.

She said at least 12 of her clients are being held up right now, and if it takes over five weeks she could lose up to 20-30 clients and hundreds of thousands of dollars in transactions.