Beware of Scams
Solutions that sound too simple or too good to be true usually are. If you’re selling your home without professional guidance, beware of buyers who try to rush you through the process. Unfortunately, there are people who may try to take advantage of your financial difficulty. Be especially alert to the following scams.
Equity skimming is a scam in which a buyer offers to get you out of financial trouble by promising to pay off your mortgage or give you a sum of money when the property is sold. The “buyer” suggests that you move out quickly and deed the property over to them. The “buyer" then collects rent for a time, does not make any mortgage payments, and allows the lender to foreclose. Remember, signing over the deed to someone else does not necessarily relieve repayment obligations on your loan.
Phony Counseling Agencies
Some groups calling themselves “counseling agencies” may approach you and offer to perform certain services for a fee. These could well be services you could do for yourself for free, such as negotiating a new payment plan with your lender, or pursuing a pre-foreclosure sale. If you have any doubt about paying for such services, call a HUD-approved housing counseling agency at (800) 569-4287 or TDD (800) 877-8339. Do this before you pay anyone or sign anything.
Use these precautions to help avoid being taken by a scam artist:
- Don’t sign any papers you don’t fully understand.
- Make sure you get all promises in writing.
- Beware of any contract of sale or loan assumption where you are not formally released from liability for your mortgage debt.
- Check with a lawyer or your mortgage company before entering into any deal involving your home.
- If you are selling the house yourself to avoid foreclosure, check to see if there are any complaints against the prospective buyer. You can contact your state’s attorney general, the state real estate commission, or the local district attorney’s consumer fraud unit for this type of information.
The information and recommendations contained on this page and the associated pages are to inform the public of options available to homeowners in Flagler County and not intended to replace legal advice. If you need legal advice for your financial situation, contact an attorney.