Good Morning and welcome back.
We are all familiar (perhaps even all too familiar) with Identity Fraud when trying to secure a mortgage, but this has been on the decline with all of the new regulations in place, as discussed in my previous Blog Posts. Those committing these fraudulent acts have now moved onto other shady tactics to take advantage of those impacted by the housing market’s downturn.
With the surge in distressed homeowners and people with upside-down mortgages, a big window of opportunity exists for the scammers, says Amy Hoak in an article on Marketwatch. She said that some offer document preparation, loan modification, attorney services, etc, and they sound like the real thing, and are able to gain a homeowner’s trust.
"They offer a service, take the homeowner’s money, then disappear", adds Yolanda McGill, senior counsel for the Fair Housing and Fair Lending Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, however firms are now prohibited from asking homeowners to pay before services are rendered per the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, with an exception for attorneys. McGill says, however, that this is "causing some scammers to pose as representatives of law offices".
Some other scams include a quit-claim deed, which McGill says, "transfers ownership of the home to the scammer, who promises the homeowner a situation where he or she will be able to remain in the house". Another one she mentions is when those who have already lost their homes are being approached to pay money to get the home back. The underlying lesson here is, "Don’t give anyone money to help you with this” she says, and suggests that you seek out a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counselor and your servicer.
When a lender accepts a lower mortgage payoff than the home is currently worth, this "short sale" can be a "lifeline for a distressed homeowner heading for foreclosure", writes Hoak. However, this opens another window for fraud.
Hoak writes about one such scam when a seller or a representative doesn't submit the best offer to the lender, and "A middleman purchases the short-sale property at the lower price, then turns around and resells the property to a legitimate buyer at a higher price — often on the same day", and effectively, "The middleman pockets the difference, sometimes sharing it with an accomplice", and she cites a recent Federal Bureau of Investigation report on mortgage fraud.
Another fraud mentioned in the story is “reverse staging", where the scammers try to "manipulate the price lower by encouraging the owner to make the house look worse than it is". This approach eventually results in the property becoming run-down and possibly even an eye-sore, which would reduce any appraised value or price evaluation.
There are many other scams that can involve multiple players in the Real Estate market, and there are new ones springing up all the time. Be wise, be wary, and ask a lot of questions.
Have you seen any scams that we should all be aware of?
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Have a Great Week, and Happy Rent-to-Owning !
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TAGS: #shortsale #foreclosure #reversestaging #realestate #distressedhomeowners #MortgageAssistanceReliefServices #mortgagepayoff #IdentityFraud