Today’s housing market is in shambles and with homeowners upside down on their mortgage or in risk of foreclosure, the future is uncertain for many people. Unfortunately, there are always those who will take advantage of this situation and target desperate homeowners using foreclosure resolution scams. Thankfully, there are several safety measures homeowners can take to avoid being scammed.
1. Always work with a reputable company that is approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Visit the HUD website before conducting any business to assure your safety.
2. Foreclosure-related services can be expensive but be careful who you pay. Most HUD-approved counselors provide low cost or free services. Never pay anyone until you know what you are getting and be weary of those who collect high fees before rendering services.
3. Get everything in writing. Many times con artists will guarantee that you can keep your home or promise “sure things”. Don’t take anyone’s word for it, always get everything in writing and keep copies for your records. Never make a verbal agreement.
4. Don’t sign anything you don’t understand. Understand deadlines for court papers and lenders but never sign something that has not been fully explained. Many scammers will try to force you to sign under pressure. Instead take time to review and read all documents before signing. It is preferred that you have a lawyer representing your interest review documents before giving the John Hancock. Additionally, never sign blank forms, incomplete forms, or a page with just a signature line. These documents could be manipulated into something you didn’t agree to.
5. Make sure you are formally released from liability for your mortgage debt before signing any sale of load consumption paperwork. Don’t sign away ownership without being sure you are no longer responsible for the debt. It is recommended that you have a real estate lawyer review any deed transfer papers or any other documents related to your foreclosure.
Stephen K. Hatchey, a Florida real estate attorney, can help you navigate this and many other legal matters. To receive a free consultation, contact our offices at 813-549-0096.