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Learn how we have successfully helped hundreds of homeowners complete a short sale transaction. Also learn how we obtained short sale approval letters from the lender(s). We have the resources and experience to help you sell your home and you pay nothing out of pocket.

SCAM ALERT – HOW TO DETECT A SHORT SALE/FORECLOSURE/LOAN MODIFICATION SCAM

It is not always easy to detect a scam, but you should know the warning signs. Due to the change in the market, and the increase in the number of foreclosures, there are a large number of people out there who are trying to profit from the distress of troubled homeowners. Here are 7 red flags you should keep any eye out for when dealing with a short sale, foreclosure, or loan modification:

  1. Being asked for an upfront fee by a company or person to negotiate with your mortgage lender to change, refinance, or reinstate your mortgage. They might take the fee and do nothing to help you save your house.
  2. Someone guaranteeing to help you stop your foreclosure or get a loan modified. No one can give this guarantee. A legitimate and reliable HUD – approved counseling agencies will only say they will try their best to help you out.
  3. Someone pressurizing you to sign over the deed to your property. A legitimate housing counselor will never put pressure on you to sign paperwork before you’ve read and understood it completely.
  4. Someone advising you to stop making your mortgage payments and asking you to pay them instead. Contact your lender the minute you have trouble meeting your mortgage. Never make the payment to a third party.
  5. Someone claims to offer “government approved” or “official government” loan modifications. They could be scammers that are pretending to be legitimate organizations that are approved by or affiliated with the government. Get in touch with your lender first and ask them if you qualify for any government programs to help prevent foreclosure. Also note that you do not have to make any payments to benefit from a government backed loan modification programs.
  6. A stranger asks you to divulge personal and/or financial information on the phone or online. Never give out personal information to anyone other than companies or people you know and trust like your mortgage lender or a HUD approved counseling agency.
  7. Someone offers a “bail-out” plan to get you out of your predicament. An example is the rent-to-buy scheme where the scammer will ask for the title to the home, so that they can cure the default, and then rent the property back to the owners until they can get back on their feet to repurchase the home. Eventually the scammer will go back on their word by not honoring the agreement, refusing to rent-back, not curing the default and even selling the property to someone else.

Besides these, there are also other foreclosure-related scams such as identify theft, theft,  forgeries, loan fraud, property flipping scams, predatory lending practices, bankruptcy fraud, pyramid schemes, landlord-tenant fraud, bank-owned property or REO fraud and short sale consulting fraud. The way to detect a scammer is to educate yourself on the signs of a loan scam and not focus on titles. Trusted professionals such real estate agents and attorneys have also been caught up in short sale, foreclosure, or loan modifications scams.

OTHER SCAMS:

Fake Counseling or Foreclosure Rescue Scams – The scammer pretends to be a counselor and says he can talk with your mortgage lender to change your loan or save your house as long as you pay him a fee upfront. They might call this a processing or administrative fee. The might ask you to not contact your housing counselor, lender, or lawyer since they are handling all the details. They might even go as far as to telling you to make the mortgage payments directly to him while he talks to your mortgage lender. After you have paid the upfront fee and the mortgage payment, he will vanish with the money.

Short Sale Scam – These scammers, also known as ‘short sale negotiators/processors’ promise to speed up a short sale for a fee (which is illegal in many states). They may even add surcharges or hidden fees before closing the transaction or misrepresent the value of the property to the mortgage lender. A short sale can be a genuine alternative for a homeowner faced with foreclosure, but, the mortgage lender has to agree to it.  Any discussions should be done by the lender, licensed real estate professional or attorney.

Bankruptcy to Avoid Foreclosure – Pay an upfront fee and the scammer promises to discuss your situation with the mortgage lender or get you refinancing. They will instead pocket the fee, not talk to your lender, and even – in some cases – file for bankruptcy in your name, without telling you. Filing for bankruptcy often temporarily stops a home foreclosure. You still have to pay your mortgage or the mortgage lender will foreclose.

Fake “Government” Modification Programs – Some scammers say they are affiliated with or approved by the government. By paying an upfront fee, you can qualify for a government mortgage modification program. It is possible that the name and website they use looks like a legitimate government agency, but its address may end with .com or .net instead of .gov. Get in touch with your mortgage lender first and ask them if you qualify for any government programs to avoid foreclosure or to modify you loans. You do not have to pay to benefit from these programs.

Forensic Loan Audit – The scammer will say they are a forensic or mortgage loan “auditor” and will offer to appraise your mortgage loan documents to decide whether your mortgage lender complied with state and federal mortgage lending laws. For an upfront fee, they say they will begin the process, and tell you that you can use this report to help you avoid foreclosure, speed up the loan modifying process, reduce your loan principle, or even cancel your loan. There is no proof that a forensic loan audit can help save your home from foreclosure. Even in a case where you sue your lender, and win, the lender is not obligated to change the loan or make it more affordable for you. If you cancel your loan, you will have to give the borrowed money back which could result in you losing your home.

Mass Joinder Lawsuit – The scammer, typically a lawyer, law firm, or marketing partner will guarantee that they can make your lender modify the loan. You will be asked to join other homeowners in a mass joinder lawsuit filed against a particular lender, and this will help you stop foreclosure, get monetary damages, reduce your loan balance or interest rate, or even receive title to your house free and clear. Even though mass joinder lawsuits can be used legitimately, these lawyers will usually be paid ‘after’ the lawsuit is over. The scammers using this type of lawsuit will try to ‘sell’ you participation in the lawsuit but ask for upfront payment.

Rent-to-Own or Leaseback Scheme – The scammer pressurizes you to give up the deed or title to your home in a deal where you can stay in your home as a renter and buy it back in a few years. They might say that giving up the title to them can allow them to get new financing due to their better credit rating, and help prevent you from losing your home. Usually they do not intend to get better financing, or help you keep your home. Furthermore, they never plan on selling back the property to you. And when they default on the loan, you could get evicted.

Bait-and-Switch – The scammer urges you to sign documents for a new loan modification that will make your existing mortgage current. This is a trick. You are actually signing documents that will surrender the title or deed of your home to the con artist in exchange for a ‘rescue’ loan. Completely read and understand any document before signing it.

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