Posted by: Catherine | April 1, 2008

Foreclosure Scams – Its no April Fool’s joke


I attended a panel discussion at the local Pleasant Hill campus of JFK University last weekend.  They hosted some very interesting speakers around the topic of the Subprime Meltdown and I’ll probably feature a couple of more of these speakers in future blog posts.  But one speaker I wanted to focus on today was Ken McCormick of the Contra Costa District Attorney’s office.   Mr. McCormick is the lead attorney at the DA’s office prosecuting cases of real estate fraud.  He discussed the various scams he’s seeing right here in our county, and I felt it important to pass along the information he shared so that you, or someone you know, may be spared! 

First, I wanted to share my general “overall” opinion.  It is that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is!  It’s an old adage that holds oh so true when you and millions of others are in financial distress.  You may become the target of many scam artists (aka CRIMINALS).  This is the market for opportunists of every description, so be careful and don’t be a victim.  Seek counsel at the first hint of trouble.  Better yet, don’t get into trouble by noting the following:

  1. DO NOT fall prey to “foreclosure consultants.” NEVER pay upfront fees, or any fees, for someone else to do something you can do yourself, i.e. contacting your lender to negotiate a resolution, a delay or a short sale.  You can seek the counsel of a FREE HUD/housing counselor.  An EXPERIENCED real estate agent can do this for you for FREE.  You can do this yourself.  Do not pay anything out of pocket.
  2. Beware of anyone offering to delay the foreclosure of your home for transferring a portion of your house to their company.  Do not transfer ANY part of your property to anyone.
  3. You can not eliminate your mortgage, so run away from anyone who tells you that they can “eliminate your mortgage.”  These schemes are complex and not only can you lose your home and all rights to other remediation, but you may be a party to criminal acts.  Don’t do it.
  4. Hang up or shut the door if anyone approaches you with an idea that all you do is transfer the property to them for a set period of time (i.e. 1 year) and you can stay in your home as a tenant – often for FREE.  Then, they promise, you fix your credit, bolster your financials, then you get your property back and all’s well.  Did that sound too good to be true?  IT IS. Don’t do it, and report these types of people to the District Attorney’s office.
  5. Warning bells should go off if anyone approaches you to either buy your equity or to pay your past due amount and save the house from foreclosure. They say, sell it to me and you’re off the hook. Don’t do it.  Many homes now do not have any equity in them, but regardless, there are those offering to just pay your past due balances in exchange for the title of your house. Beware of anyone offering to “buy you out” of foreclosure.

So, who can help you during this time?  See below for links to HUD (Housing and Urban Development, a governmental agency) and links to various local homeownership counseling agencies. These non-profit groups can help you for free.  Do not pay anyone.  A real estate agent EXPERIENCED in foreclosure avoidance can help you, for free.  Operative word here is experienced.  Too many real estate agents (in my opinion) are helping people with short sales as the best, or only, solution to a foreclosure.  Now, in some cases, short sales can work well – but you MUST know the consequences (tax and financial) before proceeding and all too often homeowners are not being advised of the potential pitfalls that can haunt them for years to come. 

Here’s some information and who you can call for help:

www.fha.gov/foreclosure -good information about foreclosure avoidance.

www.foreclosurehelpandhope.org/avoid_foreclosure.html

HUD foreclosure information: www.hud.gov/foreclosure/index.cfm

Homeownership Preservation Foundation: www.995hope.org  These folks have put together a not for profit network of HUD certified housing counseling agencies.  From their hotline you can be referred to a local agency who can help.

http://www.nw.org/network/foreclosure/default.asp NeighborWorks America Foreclosure resources

Find other local HUD certified housing counseling agencies: http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm

Remember, if you decide that a short sale is the best solution, or if you want local referrals to professionals who can help, contact the Contra Costa Foreclosure Avoidance Team.  Catherine Myers and Terry Osburn are experienced and know the process.   They serve Contra Costa residents in Walnut Creek, Concord, Clayton, Pleasant Hill, Danville, Alamo, San Ramon, Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, Martinez, Bay Point, Pittsburg, Oakley, Brentwood and Antioch.

Catherine’s website:  www.DiabloValley.net

Terry’s website: www.PawsitiveRealEstate.com

Contact: 925-683-2125 or 925-381-9944


Responses

  1. Good advice, it’s amazing how many people don’t understand that there are no fees involved.


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