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Here is investigative reporting for you.

Jason Hidalgo from the Reno Gazette-Journal found that dual-agency short sales with a prearranged cash buyer accounted for more than 10 percent of Northern Nevada’s 2,096 single-family home short sales last year.  He looked me up in February to get my thoughts on short-sale flipping, and then in his story he lays out two offenders:

http://pages.rgj.com/specialreports/soldshort/index.html

Here is an excerpt:

Krch Realty, which triple dipped commissions on more than half of its dual-agency short sales with cash buyers last year, did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

ssmarshallMarshall Realty accounted for nearly a third of such short sales in 2013. Broker-owner Marshall Carrasco defended his company’s transactions and referred further questions to his lawyer, who wrote to the Reno Gazette-Journal to “proceed with caution” on any article about Carrasco.

“Mr. Carrasco and Marshall Realty have represented many sellers in short sale transactions,” attorney James M. Walsh wrote. “As noted, full disclosure is made to the short sale sellers of the nature of the transaction. Mr. Carrasco, on occasion, presents these listings to individuals or entities that he knows are interested in purchasing short sale properties.”

Investor Jeremy Page of Harcourts NV1 Realty, a key player in the area’s real estate investment scene, stressed that all his short sale deals were done within the scope of the law. Page says his short sale purchases not only took distressed houses out of the market, they pumped more than $20 million back into the Northern Nevada economy in 2013 in the form of payments to suppliers and contractors who worked on his properties, as well as real estate agent commissions.

Real estate experts say such short sales come at the expense of the average homeowners, who do not fully understand how real estate transactions work, making them easy targets. It’s a problem that’s not limited to Nevada but is seen in other states as well where agents bend the rules for profit, said Jim Klinge, broker for California-based Klinge Realty.

“Typically, the homeowners don’t even know what they signed when these sharks get into their living rooms,” Klinge said. “I have had people call me asking if they have been taken advantage of, and in every case the answer is yes, but they never asked questions.”

The practice is especially a concern in Nevada, which saw the steepest decline in home values at the peak of the U.S. housing crisis. In recent years, the FBI identified the Silver State as a prime target for short sale fraud due to its high percentage of distressed properties.

Klinge called the lax environment surrounding short sales laughable.

“Nothing is done by anybody to stop this outright defrauding of banks, servicers and investors,” Klinge said. “There is no law enforcement or industry watchdogs, so it runs unabated. When other agents see people get away with it and make 5 percent or 6 percent commissions, then the amateurs give themselves permission to do it, too. It is going to take a district attorney vigorously pursuing this until we see perp walks nightly” for it to stop.

http://pages.rgj.com/specialreports/soldshort/index.html

This stuff happened in every major city in America over the last 2-4 years, and thankfully it’s mostly over.  Thank you Jason for a great investigative report!

Jason answers reader questions here:

http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/04/21/short-sale-flipping-reporter-answers-reader-questions/7983239/

Their Facebook entry here with 25+ comments and 57 likes:

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