As you now, foreclosures following the financial crisis hit record levels. Just like with anything, when there’s an opportunity or when there’s people in pain… the dishonest and unscrupulous people in the world tend to come out of the dark shadows to prey on home owners who don’t know any better.
Even though the crisis has ended for the most part and the real estate market has rebounded, foreclosure scams in Los Angeles and around southern California are still out there.
We’ve been working with home owners for some time now, in fact we talk with home owners in foreclosure on a regular basis. You should hear some of the stories we’ve heard of people in foreclosure being taken advantage of by scam artists proclaiming to be reputable “real estate investors”.
Not All “We Buy Houses” Companies Are Created Equal
You’ve seen those signs that say “We Buy Houses”… or websites like ours that mention the phrase. Yes, we buy houses in Los Angeles and I’ll walk you through how to spot potential scams vs. reputable house buyers in our area.
As a quick summary… there are companies out there that buy houses from people who need to sell. But, in some cases… that’s where the similarities from the scam investors and legitimate companies with great reputations like us stop.
In this article I’m going to walk you through some of the ways a small percentage of people try to take advantage of home owners like you.
This is meant to be a “consumer awareness” guide to help you spot the companies to avoid and pinpoint the “we buy houses” companies that you can trust (because the majority of home buyers are great people with great integrity… it’s those few bad apples that ruin it for everyone else.)
Some Tips and Warning Signs That You May Be Stepping Into A Scam When In Foreclosure
If you’re in foreclosure and are looking for a solution to avoid foreclosure and get foreclosure help in Los Angeles, here are some warning signs to look out for:
Charge Upfront Fees To Get Mortgage Assistance From Your Lender – As Fannie Mae says, help is free. Some companies will try to charge you for talking with your lender about your mortgage to find a solution. Don’t fall for this. You can talk with your lender about the mortgage and your options anytime with no charge, or work with a company who will do your loan counseling for you for free.
Signing Over The Deed To Your Home To “Save” Your House – This sounds backwards from the start. Some unsavory companies may tell you that you can sign over the deed to your house (essentially giving up ownership) to save your house. As Fannie Mae says, never sign over the deed to your house unless you’re working with your mortgage company to forgive your debt… or unless you’re physically selling your house to that company. If that’s the case, ask the company to do everything at a reputable title company so everything is on the up and up (always consult legal advice before ever signing over your deed).
Don’t Unknowingly Give Up Ownership To Your Home – Some ways scammers have targeted home owners is by telling home owners they’ll pay off their mortgage. With these scammers they hide clauses in the paperwork that sometimes gives up your ownership rights to the house and transfers them to the scammers. A reputable company will be fully transparent, no hidden clauses, and everything will be known before any documents are signed. But same as above, always consult your own expert to review any paperwork before you sign anything… even when working with a very reputable company… just so all of the “i”s are dotted and “t”s crossed.
Try To Say You Don’t Need A Title Company or Other Professionals In Selling Your Home – Selling your house, whether you’re in foreclosure or just need to sell quickly, should be done with the help of certain professional services. With every house we buy, we always use a neutral 3rd party Title Company to handle the closing, drawing up the closing documents, and all related paperwork. It instills confidence with the house seller and it makes sure there’s no funny business on either side of the transaction. If a house buyer says you’re going to do a “kitchen table closing” (actually signing all of the papers in your house) rather than a title company or attorneys office… ask why. Kitchen table closings can work, but using a title company or attorneys office helps protect both sides and makes sure things are done right.
The Mortgage Payment Scam – Some scammers have pulled a scam where they instruct the home owner to pay mortgage payments to them (rather than the bank directly) and the scammer will then “handle paying the bank”. In no circumstances should you do this unless you get your mortgage company’s approval in writing. Some of these scammers will then pocket your payments and not pay the mortgage company at all… harming your credit and causing you to be worse off then before.
(Source: Summary of information from the Fannie Mae info site)
Do Your Homework And Do Business With Someone You Can Trust
We buy houses in Los Angeles and help people in foreclosure each and every week. So we know the market well and have seen lots of dishonest things happen to home owners who were duped by a scammer before they found us.
What we always say is to do your homework. Ask any “we buy houses” company lots of questions before you do business with them to make sure that they’re real, that they’re honest, and that they can and will follow through with any offer they make you. Some investors make lots of offers and back out on the ones they don’t have the money to close on. With Bright Idea House Buyers, we only make offers on properties that we know we can close on if our offer is accepted… no if’s and’s or buts.
If you’re in foreclosure and need assistance, or just want to know your options… visit your local foreclosure counseling service or browse this site and schedule a free Foreclosure Prevention session with one of our foreclosure experts. Or, if you’re looking to sell your house fast, we’d love to chat with you… learn about your situation and your house… and make you a fair all-cash offer within 24 hours of our talk. We can close in as little as 7 days. The beauty of the whole thing is that we’ll make you an offer and there’s no obligation, no pressure, and no catches… you get the offer, you take as long as you want to look over, pass the offer by those you trust, even shop the offer around to the other “we buy houses” companies if you want. We’ll be here for ya and you can get started whenever is right for you.
If you’d like a fair no-obligation offer today… go here and fill out the short form. After that we’ll give you a quick call, find out a bit more about the property, and make you an offer the same day.