Short Sale Fraud – The newest problem in real estate is not yet a law or an official policy, but it is definitely going to create issues in the market. Freddie Mac’s new short sale opinion – for lack of a better word – could create serious legal and practical issues for real estate investors.
The organization posted a new educational article on April 16, 2010 titled “Emerging Fraud Trends: Short Payoff Fraud.” The article stated, in short, that short sales could be fraudulent if the lender does not have information about a pre-arranged flip of the property after the short sale to another buyer. 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 article described scenarios and red flags for short sale 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. The second the facilitator puts his profits in his pocket, Freddie Mac considers him guilty of fraud because his negotiations caused Freddie Mac to ultimately take a “larger than necessary” loss on the sale of the property.
The article urges buyers, sellers and lenders to be on the lookout for short payoff fraud red flags. Flags include sudden default without explanation, borrowers current on other debts and buying entities. The article also tells readers to keep an eye out for resale options in their purchase agreement.
Everyone involved in a short payoff is encouraged by Freddie Mac to report potential short payoff fraud the second they become aware of a second purchase contract for a higher price. It may not be considered breaking the law, but it certainly looks like Freddie Mac wants to make short sales as difficult as possible for real estate investors.