Short Sale Flip Fraud – While not yet a law or an official policy, problems loom on the horizon thanks to a new take on short sales. The news from Freddie Mac on short sales could cause 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 is a serious yellow flag for short sale investors who make their living negotiating good short sale deals with banks, then selling their new properties to other buyers for a profit.
The rest of the article detailed scenarios and red flags for “short payoff” fraud. The scenario revolved around a short sale facilitator who set up a deal with a lender to purchase a home worth 80K for 70K while the lender took a 30K loss. The facilitator does not disclose that he already has an outstanding offer for $95,000 from a second end-buyer. 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 posting encourages buyers, sellers and lenders to look out for short sale 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.
Finally, sellers, buyers and lenders are all encouraged to report this short payoff fraud if they are aware of a second purchase contract for a higher price. Short sales may not be breaking the law, but Freddie Mac’s PR team certainly wants the process to be as difficult as possible for all real estate investors.