The Florida Office of Financial Regulation is warning residents today to be wary of real estate fraud scams that require consumers to spend large sums of money on investment properties.
• Straw Borrowers: A straw borrower is used when the actual buyer has poor credit and is unable to obtain financing. The actual buyer promises to make all payments and may compensate the straw borrower for the use of their credit. It is illegal to misrepresent the identity of any party in the transaction to the lender.
• Abnormally High Appraisals: An appraisal is expected to be a truthful representation of the value of a property. Scammers will give unusually high appraisals in order to lure potential investors into their scam, especially those with poor credit histories. Keep in mind that most legitimate lenders will use the lower of the appraised value or purchase price.
• Evasion of Purchase Guidelines: Be wary of anything unusual during the beginning stages of the purchase and contract process, such as missing or withheld information and falsified income. Always research your investment professional or organization by verifying their license and history.
• Large Number of Purchased Properties: A large amount of properties purchased is a common characteristic of real estate investment fraud cases.
• Investor Locations: Historically, real estate investment fraud cases involved investors living close to the purchased properties. Today, however, it is common for investors to be located several states away.
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