The Dangers of Fake Real Estate Listings and Rental Scams

scams, DuPage County real estate attorneysWhen you are going through the process of a finding a new home, it understandable that you might feel overwhelmed and exhausted by all of the details. Whether you are looking to buy a new house or just to rent for right now, you have probably spent hours trying to find a place that meets your needs and those of your family.

Sadly, it is all too common in the internet age for unsuspecting individuals who have been worn out by their search to fall prey to online scammers. Even homes listed by qualified real estate agents are often involved in such scams.

Beware of Out-of-State Landlords

A successful real estate agent in the neighboring state of Missouri recently reported that she has just barely prevented at least two scams in six months involving properties for which she was contracted to sell. In one instance, she received a call from prospective renters who were ready to send a deposit to someone in Texas, despite the property being in the north part of Kansas City, Missouri. Apparently, an online scammer had used pictures from the agent’s sales listing and posted the property as a rental on Craigslist. In the post, the scammer purported that she was frustrated with her real estate agent, so she was trying to rent out the property on her own. Fortunately, the would-be renters go a hold of the agent before sending the money to the scammer.

The agent, along with the Better Business Bureau, advises renters to be very careful when landlords are from outside the area. Of course, there are many perfectly legitimate landlords who own properties in many states, but most generally have property managers or other representatives available near their properties. If you cannot meet with someone or see the property in person because the landlord is out of state or outside the country, this could be a serious red flag. Any respectable landlord will understand your caution and will take steps to prove his or her legitimacy.

Too Good to Be True

Real estate experts also recommend trusting any instincts that you may have about a potential deal being too good to be true. Internet real estate sites, including sites like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, offer great deals, but if you come across a property that is offered well below market value, there is likely to be a reason. In some cases, the reason is that the listing is a scam.

When you are looking for a new place to live, there is no such thing as too many questions or too much verification. If you are uneasy about your interactions with the landlord, ask for references, and then call those references, especially if they are professional references. If the landlord can only give the names of friends or other tenants instead of contractors or business associates, you should probably continue your search elsewhere.

Work With a Wheaton Real Estate Attorney

The best way to protect yourself when buying or renting a home is to contact an experienced DuPage County real estate lawyer at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC. We will help you analyze your situation and conduct a full review of the landlord, the property, and any proposed contracts. Call 630-665-2500 for a confidential consultation today.



Top Four Reasons You Need a Real Estate Attorney When Buying Your New Home

Wheaton real estate lawyerFor many people, home ownership is a big part of living the proverbial “American Dream.” That being said, your home is probably the most valuable purchase you will ever make in your life. If you are buying a house for the first time, you might not realize all of the steps that are involved and how complex each of them can be. Throughout the process, there will be many variables to take into account and problems to avoid.

In many cases, homebuyers work with a real estate broker or an agent to help them find the right home and to streamline the process. Your agent, however, is only a part of the bigger picture. A qualified real estate lawyer can provide the legal protection you need along the by:

  • Acting as an advocate. Your real estate agent might be friendly, helpful, and charismatic, but the main goal of an agent to facilitate the sale of the home. This means he or she will often be an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. A lawyer, by comparison, is dedicated to protecting your interests, regardless of whether a sale takes place;
  • Offering legal advice. No matter how knowledgeable your agent might be, he or she is not allowed to give you case-specific legal advice. Doing so could cost the agent his or her real estate license. An attorney is fully qualified to review state laws, local ordinances, and other rules that might affect your transaction and to provide you with reliable guidance at every stage of the process;
  • Translating legalese in contracts. Legal documents are almost written using confusing language and terms that are unfamiliar to the average homebuyer. Without a lawyer, you might struggle to understand the terms, conditions, rights, and responsibilities of not only your purchase contract but also of your mortgage agreement and any other applicable legal paperwork; and
  • Researching the property. Real estate transactions are usually public record, but tracking down the history of a particular property can be difficult and time-consuming. A real estate lawyer has the tools and resources to research the chain of title for the home, any previous sales, and any problems that may have come up in the past. Your attorney’s work could help you negotiate a better deal on the property or show you that you might need to reconsider altogether.

Making a mistake when buying a home could lead to serious problems down the road, possibly costing thousands of dollars and many hours of aggravation. Working closely with an experienced real estate lawyer could help you save money, time, and stress.

Call a DuPage County Real Estate Lawyer

If you are thinking about buying a home in the near future, contact an experienced Wheaton residential real estate attorney. Our team will sit down with you to discuss your circumstances and help you find and buy the right home for your family. Call 630-665-2500 for an appointment today.


What You Should Know About a Short Sale

short sale, Wheaton real estate attorneysWhile the economy has steadily improved over the course of the last decade or so, things are still not where they should be in many respects. As people experience financial hardships, some are forced to sell off assets, houses included—often for less than they are worth. This is referred to in real estate as a short sale, and it can be quite complex to navigate through on your own.

Short Sale Requirements

Many people are vastly unaware as to how complex a short sale can be, but it can be because there are not only questions regarding the nature of the asset for sale, but also the remainder of the debt or loan that is not being resolved by the short sale. Short sales are only successful if everyone involved (the seller, the bank or other entity holding the loan, and anyone else) agrees to take less money than they might otherwise make. However, a lender does not actually have to agree to a short sale in order for one to go forward, at least in Illinois; only the mortgage holder must agree, and the two are not always the same.

There are four items generally required in order to complete a short sale and obtain the mortgage lender’s permission. They are:

  1. A hardship letter, with an explanation of why the mortgage is in default;
  2. Proof that the property’s current value is less than the cost of the mortgage and closing costs;
  3. A showing that a buyer for the property exists, and that buyer is not related to the seller; and
  4. Credible testimony that there is no better alternative.

The third item can be a concern in particular, as it is not unknown to simply transfer an asset to a friend or family member as a sort of surreptitious trust; such actions are illegal under the Illinois Fraudulent Transfer Act. These factors all being met do not necessarily guarantee a successful short sale, but they greatly increase the odds that all involved will be able to come to a consensus.

After a Short Sale

Assuming the sale itself goes according to plan, you will still be left with the question of the remaining balance on the mortgage. In Illinois, this may be disposed of in two ways. The lender will either forgive the debt—usually not out of a sense of altruism, but rather because it is possible for them to write it off—or they will try to seek a deficiency judgment. A deficiency judgment is just what it sounds like, where the lender files a civil suit in order in an attempt to collect the remaining balance due on the mortgage.

In a short sale, it is possible to insert language into the offer letter agreeing to waive any remaining liability, but unlike some other states, such as California, this is not required. If a deficiency judgment is entered against you, your wages may be garnished, your bank account may be levied (frozen) and in extreme cases, you may have assets or other financial instruments seized to make up the difference.

Contact a Wheaton Real Estate Attorney

Real estate can be an extraordinarily complex area of law, and a short sale can be one of the most intricate and difficult enterprises to undertake, especially alone. Contact an experienced DuPage County real estate lawyer at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC today. Our knowledgeable professionals can help guide you through the short sale process, and answer any questions you may have along the way.