Short Sale Scam

Services for Real Estate Pros with ERA Top Service Realty, Inc.

Over the weekend, one of my agents asked me to speak with a client.  Apparently we had listed the client's home, but it was taken off the market because the client's niece was going to help her and she would be able to keep the house.  This client was in a short sale situation, and my agent was going to help her in selling the house, but if the homeowner found a way to stay in the house, who are we to interfere?  We want sellers to be able to stay in their house.  A sale should happen if you want to move, not if you're forced to move which is a huge part of the real estate climate we're in now.

Months pass and my agent is contacted by the seller again.  The story changed.  Apparently, shortly after we listed the house two supposed attorneys showed up at the seller's door to help her keep the house.  They had her sign paperwork and told her that they would work it out with the bank.  They were going to buy the house from her and then sell it back.  They also supposedly told the seller to make sure she didn't tell us because it would be unethical since they are trying to help her stay in the house and we "just wanted to sell the house."  Now, the seller has found out that she has to move out of the house.  Apparently, the new owner is evicting her and she wants us to help her.

I am getting really frustrated.  There are a lot of people that love to blame the agent for what happened, but what about when the customer/client betray us.  Then when they are in an even bigger whole, they come to us for help.  The only thing I was able to recommend is for the seller to file a complaint with the NYS Bar Association and contact the FBI. 

But, the seller??  What will she face??  After all, she was involved in the fraud too.  She did sign the paperwork.  At first, I felt bad.  But then, I thought (after speaking to another attorney about the situation) why am I feeling bad?  She obviously didn't consider us (more specifically the agent) when she made her decision.  If she were truly making such a great decision at that point, why didn't she just be up front?  At the end of the day, we want sellers to stay in their home if they could.  And, we would have let her know that this was a scam.  Now her bubble is burst and yet again, there is nothing that we can do.  (But, we're the devil).

Another day in the life of real estate.

P.S. Selling activity is definitely up.  Enjoy the selling season.

Melissa Gomez
VP of Operations
ERA Top Service Realty, Inc.


Comments (5)

Terry Miller
Miller Homes Group - Tyler, TX
Miller Homes Group and Tyler Apartment Locator

We got so sick of short sales. The buyers agent is always the fall guy. We just quit doing them.

Mar 24, 2009 07:56 AM
real estate real estate
Providence, RI

Interesting. I am not sure why the attorney was doing that. Very strange.

Mar 24, 2009 10:42 AM
Denise Delozier, Realtor, CNE
Reliant Realty ERA Powered - Nashville, TN
Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin & Middle Tennessee

It's a sad truth that desperation leads to panic and people cannot think or act rationally when they are panicking. They become extremely vulnerable to predatory scams, particularly if they believe it will make their pain stop quickly.  It's a sickening experience for a Realtor who truly cares about their clients' best interest (as you obviously do) to find out that, despite your efforts to save them, they have fallen head-first into a trap like this. One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn in this business is that I cannot protect my clients from themselves.  Knowing that still doesn't keep me from trying, but at the end of the day, we can offer our experience, advice and wisdom, but ultimately, unless the client chooses to trust it and apply it, it's completely useless. You are definitely not the devil ~ you truly did everything you could, and aside from keeping her in your prayers, there's honestly not much else you can do for her at this point.  Focus your energy on the ones you can still help...and there are plenty of those right now.  :)

Mar 24, 2009 08:32 PM
Tom Boos
Sine & Monaghan Realtors, Real Living - Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Providing the very best of service to Sellers and

This market climate is ripe for scams of all description.  Everybody be on your toes.

Mar 25, 2009 04:25 AM
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Dec 18, 2011 09:19 PM