Friday, September 25, 2009

"We Buy Houses" Scams. How to Spot Scams and How to Avoid Them.

There are many reasons why a home owner would want to sell a house fast. Job change, relocation, debt problems, divorce and inheritance are just a few. Unfortunately, people in need also tend to attract predators who have no problem profiting from someone else's misfortune.

If you're looking to sell a house fast, here are a few scams to be on the lookout for and how to avoid becoming a victim yourself.

Equity Scam
One of the most common types of "we buy houses" scams allows the "buyer" of the home to make off with most or all of your equity. It begins with you transferring your home's deed to the "buyer." The buyer may then have you make payments to him instead of the mortgage company, or he may have you move out so he can begin renting out the house.

There are several ways the buyer can then profit from this transaction. First, he receives some sort of payment every month — whether from you or from the renter. Second, he can use the equity in your home to secure home equity loans or other lines of financing. Third, he can simply resell the house without satisfying the outstanding mortgage.

Ultimately, once most of his profit is exhausted, he simply stops making payments on the mortgage and allows the home to go into foreclosure, because while he holds the deed to the home, he never assumed liability for the mortgage. As a result, you are left with a foreclosed home, no remaining equity and a significant black spot on your credit history.

Contract Bait and Switch
The contract "bait and switch" is a clever scheme that takes advantage of the trust between buyer and seller.

In one version of this scam, the home buyer inspects your house and makes a verbal offer that you accept. A few days later, he presents you with a written contract that he presents as "just a formal, legal version" of your verbal agreement. Because you believe it to be the same offer you had already agreed to, you simply skim it and sign on the dotted line.

In the time between signing and closing, he may also deliver one or more "minor changes" to the contract. He presents these as simply "a few tweaks" and nothing that really affects the original agreement.

At some point, though, possibly at the closing or even later, you discover that the last contract you signed actually bears little resemblance to the initial offer, and you are either stuck with a losing home sale or tangled in legal battles for months or even years to get out of the contract.

Liberian FSBO
This scam is an interesting twist on the Nigerian Scam or 419 Scam. In it, a person outside the U.S. contacts you after seeing your house on a For Sale By Owner site, telling you that he is looking to move to the U.S. soon and can pay cash for your home. His story is compelling to the point that you actually feel good about helping him out — not to mention being able to sell your home.

Ultimately, though, his only goal is to get you to transfer him money and/or to get access to your bank account so that he can transfer the funds himself before you realize what has happened. And because he is outside the U.S., recovering your money can be next to impossible.

How to Protect Yourself from Scams
If you need to sell a house fast, here are a few rules for protecting yourself from falling prey to a scam like these.

Only Work with Professionals
The best way to protect yourself from scams is to work only with real estate professionals. Never sign documents you don't understand. It is always recommended that you consult an attorney before you sign documents you do not understand. Make sure that closing takes place at the title company, and/or real estate attorney is involved (depending of the rules in the state where you live).

Check Out the Buyer
If you have any concerns about the buyer, don't hesitate to check them out. Contact your state Attorney General's office, your state's Real Estate Commission, or your District Attorney's Consumer Fraud Unit. If they are an established business, also check out the Better Business Bureau.

Always Understand What You're Signing
Not asking questions because you are afraid of looking stupid could end up costing you tens of thousands of dollars or more if you end up in a deal that wasn't what you thought it was. A lawyer or even your mortgage company can help you if you want professional advice from a third party. Never, ever sign a contract that you don't understand. It is always recommended that you consult an attorney before you sign documents you do not understand.

Get All Agreements in Writing
If a disagreement arises about a verbal agreement, the issue becomes your word against theirs and often must go to a court of law to be settled. Don't risk that. Insist that all terms be in writing, and don't agree to anything that isn't.

If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. So don't get so emotionally tied up in the sale of your home that you abandon caution and logic.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Are New Federal Incentives Coming for Short Sales?


The mortgage servicing industry in coming weeks will see details of an incentive program aimed to prevent foreclosures by encouraging servicers to pursue short sales and deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure.

US Treasury Department sources confirmed to HousingWire the Treasury expects to issue details on the short sale and deed-in-lieu program later this month.

The program is being finalized and will be announced as soon as possible, according to testimony Wednesday by Federal Housing Administration (FHA) commissioner David Stevens.

He said at a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing that the Making Home Affordable (MHA) Program is on track to provide modifications and refinancings to millions of homeowners, but noted other foreclosure alternatives exist.

“Because we know that the MHA program will not reach every at-risk homeowner or prevent all foreclosures, on May 14th the Administration announced the Foreclosure Alternatives program that will provide incentives for, and encourage, servicers and borrowers to pursue short sales and deeds-in-lieu (DIL) of foreclosure in cases where the borrower is generally eligible for a MHA modification but does not qualify or is unable to complete the process,” he said, according to prepared remarks.

He said the program will simplify the process of pursuing short sales and deeds-in-lieu, which will encourage more servicers and borrowers to participate in the program. The program will standardize the process, documentation and short performance timeframes.

“These options eliminate the need for potentially lengthy and expensive foreclosure proceedings, preserve the physical condition and value of the property by reducing the time a property is vacant, and allows the homeowners to transition with dignity to more affordable housing,” Stevens added.

Distressed sales — including short sales and foreclosures — accounted for nearly one-third of all house re-sales in recent months, leading to the National Association of Realtors to offer a short sales and foreclosure certification program to realtors.

At the same time, tech vendors and mortgage service providers are looking to fill the demand for short sale-related products and services. Equi-Trax Asset Solutions recently launched a new current listing search offering that searches a servicer’s portfolio to determine short sale and modification opportunities.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Be Cautious About Giving Info to Census Workers

With the U.S. Census process beginning, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises people to be cooperative, but cautious, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft. The first phase of the 2010 U.S. Census is under way as workers have begun verifying the addresses of households across the country. Eventually, more than 140,000 U.S. Census workers will count every person in the United States and will gather information about every person living at each address including name, age, gender, race, and other relevant data. The big question is - how do you tell the difference between a U.S. Census worker and a con artist? BBB offers the following advice:

** If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door, they will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions. However, you should never invite anyone you don't know into your home.

** Census workers are currently only knocking on doors to verify address information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the U.S. Census. While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, it will not ask for Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers nor will employees solicit donations.

Eventually, Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail, or in person at home. However, they will not contact you by Email, so be on the lookout for Email scams impersonating the Census. Never click on a link or open any attachments in an Email that are supposedly from the U.S. Census Bureau.

For more advice on avoiding identity theft and fraud, visit

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Avalon at Seven Meadows in Katy, TX - New Constructions

Avalon at Seven Meadows is one of West Houston's most acclaimed golf course and water front communities. Taylor Morrison is the exclusive builder in Avalon's final phase - The Reserve. Only four more families will live behind the gates of this exclusive private reserve - and one of those families could be yours! As of September 10,2009 those are last new constructions in The Reserve:

23315 Two Harbors Glen - Ready in December - $875,000
5 Bed, 4 Bath - 4243 sf - Golf course Home site
Brick and Stone Elevation, 3 Car Tandem Garage, Sunroom, Covered Back Porch w/ Outdoor Kitchen for entertaining and enjoying your view.

23118 Two Harbors Glen - Ready in December - $852,000
5 Bed, 4 Bath - 4399sf - Golf Course Home Site
Stucco and Stone Elevation with rounded turret for the castle looking curb appeal. Island Kitchen, Large Media, "Secret" room, Step up Game room with Covered Balconly allows for great view.

23302 Two Harbors Glen- Ready in December- $830,000
5 Bed, 4 Bath - 4712 sf- Water Home site
Stone and Stucco Elevation with front Courtyard, Guest "Casita", Media Room, and Covered Patio and Balcony.

23311 Two Harbors Glen - Ready October - $867,000
4 Bedroom, 6 Bath - 4815 sf
Stucco with Tile Accents, Grand Foyer w/ spiral Staircase, Formal Living, Dining and Study, 6 Baths including pool bath with Shower, 3 Car Tandem Garage.

Please click here to view a full motion video of Avalon at Seven Meadows

Please click here to view a full motion video of a sample house in Avalon at Seven Meadows in Katy, TX.

Data not Verified/Guaranteed by Irena Gorski

Friday, September 04, 2009

$8,0000 Tax Credit - Real Estate Cash for Action !

Cash for clunkers was a success in many ways. It helped the economy, it helped the environement, it helped many new car owners who took advantage of $4,500 offerred by this program. It is still helping and will help them saving money on fuel cost in years to come, when they are going to drive their newly purchased, more efficient cars. Thinking about Real Estate, the $8,000 Tax Credit, can be called Real Estate Cash for Action of buying first home. The action, which has to be taken by qualified, first time home buyers. If they want take advantage of this money, they should buy a house and close escrow by the end of November 2009. With low home prices and low interest rates, the first time home buyers should take action NOW! It is the beginning of September, so less than 2 months before this $8,000 Tax Credit will be gone. Timing is very important here, especially for first time home buyers with FHA loans, when home buying process may take 45 days or longer. But even with conventional home loans this process may take well over 30 days due to recent changes in Truth In Lending Act. If you are Houston area first time home buyer, talk to your Houston Realtor, who will help you find the right house and will walk you through complicated home buying process.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Flood of Foreclosures is coming

The new wave of Foreclosures Flood is coming due to growing unemployment
and economical problems.