scam alertThese are the short-sale scams mentioned in yesterday’s comments that deserve their own post as a resource for people to use to protect themselves.  If you have seen other tricks, include them in the comments so we stay aware!

The most common packages:

1. The listing agent spoons his lowball short-sale listing to an investor to start the lender-approval process. Agent then finds the retail buyer, and once the investor closes at the lowball price, they sell it to retail buyer and pocket the difference. 

Once a SS investor chimed in here that this is legit because he discloses to the lender that he is buying for the purpose of immediate re-sale for profit. I’m not sure why a bank would agree to that, but we do know that some banks’ short-sale departments are so busy that they will approve sales just to move product, and may not care as much about getting top dollar.

2. The listing agent can’t close the lowball deal so he tacks on a five-figure processing fee or lien-release charge instead. The short-sale processor is complicit though usually paid by buyer so fiduciary conflict there too, though they will claim to be a neutral 3rd party.

3. The investor approcahes the listing agent and agrees to have the LA represent them on the purchase so agent makes 6%. But the investor gets to negotiate the deal with the bank, and they go in ultra-low with or without the agent’s knowledge. If the investor gets it approved, hooray, they put in the standard $15,000 flipper package and make $100,000+ by selling it to the retail buyer they find later. If not, the seller has to start over on a short-sale process before he gets foreclosed.

4. Listing agent appears to expose property to the open market, and fields several offers. Short-sale closes months later for far-under your offer price, and an insider represented the eventual buyer – usually an agent in the same office.

Tell-tale evidence, usually left all over the MLS:

A. The five-second listing, where once the listing is inputted, it is immediately marked pending or contingent.

B. List-price reductions after marked pending/contingent, usually several smaller reductions over months of time.

C. Listing office represents both buyer and seller (listing agent gets a buddy in the office to help diffuse the obvious).

D. None or one photo, or a few terrible photos meant to throw people off the trail.

E. We saw in the news the idea of ‘negative staging’ where they beat up the house prior to appraisal.

F. Widespread abuse of fiduciary duty being inflicted by new and experienced agents, many of whom work at big-name legitimate firms whose managers look the other way.

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Jim the Realtor
Jim is a long-time local realtor who comments daily here on his blog, which began in September, 2005. Stick around!

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