Due to my high visibility online as a Sacramento short sale agent, I receive a lot of email spam, much of it centering on short sales. When I received an email from Program 3648, I deleted it, and all those that came after it. I mean, who calls itself Program 3648 or Program HR 3648 -- is this the X-Files?
But on Wednesday, I stopped to read one of these emails. The email aroused my suspicions because it talked about Administration Policy and promised full commissions on short sales, while naming a bunch of major lenders. I know that full commission is an impossible guarantee. Red flag. I also noted the email was absent a company name but sported a Washington, D.C. address, made to look like it could be a government-sponsored entity. #2 red flag.
So, I decided to check it out and signed up for the Program 3648 webinar. It started out innocent enough. To qualify for the program, an agent must:
- Be full-time
- Have short sale experience
- Be able to handle at least 15 short sale listings
- Possess a proactive approach
- Maintain a proper mindset
That last 2 requirements were a bit peculiar because every successful short sale agent I know has those qualities. To push a "proactive approach" or "proper mindset," well, those are not things one would promote to an experienced real estate agent. It's insulting. But it's new information to an inexperienced agent. #3 red flag.
Program 3648 and Program HR 3648 also sport a little icon as their logo. It looks suspiciously like a government symbol with an eagle in the middle and lettering so tiny you can't read it, but it's not a government entity. #4 red flag.
Basically, this is how the program was laid out. An agent pays an upfront fee, signs a 6-month contract and agrees to pay a triple-digit monthly fee to Program 3648 or Program HR 3648. In return, the agent receives training on how to become a short sale listing agent . . . Wait. Didn't they just say they wanted experienced short sale agents? #5 red flag.
The agent will receive a list of 150 leads. These leads consist of homeowners who are 30 days or more behind in their mortgage payments. If an agent wanted to find a list of homeowners who have a Notice of Default filed against their homes, this information is available for free in the Sacramento County public records. The idea is agents then call or send direct mail to the homeowners, in essence, the program purports to turn real estate agents into telemarketers. #6 red flag.
What busy and successful short sale agent would want to do telemarketing? Probably none. But a brand new agent who has no business might be tempted to sign up for this program.
Program 3648 and Program HR 3648 also provide all the short sale negotiation for the agent. Gosh, I hope Program 3648 is a licensed real estate broker because only real estate brokers or lawyers can collect a commission, regardless of what they call it, to negotiate a short sale.
But the weird twist is the listing agent somehow charges the short sale buyer 1% of the sales price and makes the buyer pay its negotiation fee, 20% of which is rebated to the listing agent. Why would a buyer agree to pay a commission of 1% to the listing agent and the listing agent's third-party negotiator? #7 red flag.
I disconnected at that point. How many red flags does an agent need? I can already hear the lawyers at Lyon Real Estate having conniption fits over this.
Photo: Big Stock Photo