Short Sale Fraud – While not yet a law or an official policy, problems loom on the horizon thanks to a new take on short sales. The news from Freddie Mac on short sales could cause serious legal and practical issues for real estate investors.
On Friday, April 16, 2010, the organization posted an educational article titled “Emerging Fraud Trends: Short Payoff Fraud.” Essentially, the article stated that a short payoff or a short sale can be considered fraudulent if the lender agrees to a short sale that already has a third-party buyer in place that is paying a higher amount than the agreed-upon loan payoff amount. This could spell trouble for investors who have been short-sale flipping, which means negotiating a short sale with the bank, then selling the property immediately to another buyer for a profit of a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars.
The article described scenarios and red flags for short sale payoff fraud. The scenario revolved around a short sale facilitator who set up a deal with a lender to purchase a home worth 80K for 70K while the lender took a 30K loss. In the scenario, the facilitator fails to notify the bank he has a higher offer, 95,000, on the house. When the transactions close – in this case on the same day – and the facilitator pockets the difference, according to Freddie Mac he has just committed fraud because he withheld information about a higher offer and causes Freddie Mac to take a “larger than necessary” loss on the sale.
The posting encourages buyers, sellers and lenders to look out for short sale fraud red flags. Freddie Mac considers entities buying property, borrowers who are suddenly in default and borrowers who have not reneged on all of their loans to be red flags for short payoff fraud. The article also tells readers to keep an eye out for resale options in their purchase agreement.
Buyers, sellers and lenders all are encouraged to report short sale fraud the second they become aware of or suspect a second purchase contract for a higher price. Short sales may not be breaking the law, but Freddie Mac’s PR team certainly wants the process to be as difficult as possible for all real estate investors.
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