Real estate fraud is more common than many people notice. It happens all across the U.S. and to people of all ages and backgrounds. Those who intentionally engage in fraud can be unscrupulous and clever. As a real estate litigation lawyer in Washington D.C. from a firm like Eric Siegel Law can explain, these fraudulent acts can occur in any number of ways (sometimes involving more than one fraudster) and can be devised as a short or long term scam.
As a result, even smart people can get taken advantage of, and to add insult to injury, they may feel embarrassed or ashamed that they lost a significant amount of money to a con artist. This is unfortunate, but nothing to be ashamed about: It happens to countless people every day, and these criminals specialize in defrauding professionals. On the upside, many incidents of potential real estate fraud can be avoided when certain red flags are recognized.
Common Examples of Real Estate Fraud
As mentioned, real estate fraud can occur in a number of ways. Here are some of the most common examples of how real estate fraud cheats honest people:
Mortgage fraud. If someone who is selling real estate misrepresents material or important information or intentionally omits critical data regarding the property.
Value fraud. When a property’s value is overstated to the potential buyer, they may then purchase the property and be defrauded as a result.
Title fraud. If a property’s title is fraudulently changed to reflect someone who is not the rightful owner of that property, this is considered title fraud. If someone sells a property that they do not own and they are not authorized by the owner to sell, it is another form of title fraud.
Foreclosure fraud. If a home is foreclosed upon but without a valid reason, it may cause the homeowner to believe they no longer own the home. As a result, they may move out of the house and give it up to the fraudster.
Preventing Real Estate Fraud
Fraud can occur in nearly any type of business transaction, and real estate is no exception. By following certain steps you may be able to prevent getting defrauded in a real estate deal. Here are several tips that may help you getting a fair deal in your next property transaction:
· Whether you are buying or selling real estate, do not rush the process. In this way, if there are discrepancies you are more likely to recognize them and stop the transaction before it’s completed.
· Perform due diligence in researching the background and reputation of the broker and real estate agent.
· Hire an appraiser to assess the value of the real estate property prior to making an offer or putting it on the market if you’re the owner. An accurate appraisal assures that both the seller and the buyer understand the property’s market value.
Real estate fraud is a concern, but the risk can be minimized by following certain guidelines. Contact a real estate lawyer if you suspect you’re being targeted for fraud.