Short Sale Fraud – It’s not a law; nor is it an official policy, but it’s definitely going to be a problem regardless. The latest opinion released from Freddie Mac on short sales presents legal and practical issues for short sale investors.

On Friday, April 16, 2010, the organization posted an educational article titled “Emerging Fraud Trends: Short Payoff Fraud.” The article described a new trend in short sale fraud that happens when a short sale buyer flips a newly acquired property to another buyer and “pockets the difference.” 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 Freddie Mac poster went on to describe scenarios and red flags for short payoff fraud. The scenario involved a facilitator, whose description matched that of a real estate short sale investor, who negotiated a deal with a lender to short sale a home worth $80,000 with a debt of $100,000 for $70,000. In the scenario, the facilitator fails to notify the bank he has a higher offer, 95,000, on the house. When both transactions close and the facilitator pockets his profit, Freddie Mac considers him to have committed fraud since Freddie Mac has now taken a “larger than necessary” loss on the sale.

The article urges buyers, sellers and lenders to be on the lookout for short payoff fraud red flags. These flags include sudden borrower default, a borrower who is current on other obligations and the buyer of the property being an entity rather than a person. 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. This may not yet be a law, but the signs are not good when Freddie Mac has posted such a direct attack on short sale investors.

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Filed under: Professional Home Inspector

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