Government Bailouts! Foreclosures! Sub-Prime Loans! You can’t watch the evening news or read the daily newspaper without seeing stories about today’s mortgage crisis and the shocking fraud that seems to go hand-in-hand with it.
Of course the FBI plays a large role when it comes to investigating mortgage fraud, and their caseload has almost quadrupled in the past few years. So, while the FBI is working to catch the perpetrators, what can consumers do to protect themselves from becoming victims of mortgage fraud?
Plenty, it seems! Special Agent Scott Broshears is a Mortgage Fraud Supervisor working at the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Broshears said that, while some of these steps might ask that you do a little extra work now, in the long run it could save you money, aggravation, and even your home.
Here are Agent Broshear’s tips:
- Get referrals for mortgage professionals and real estate agents once you’ve decided to buy or sell your home. Once you have the referrals, check out their licenses with City, County or State regulatory agencies. The majority of these professionals are above-board and honest; but unfortunately there’s always that small percentage who give the professional a bad reputation.
- Research! Do your own research into how much other homes in the neighborhood have sold for. In addition, research recent tax assessments of homes in the neighborhood.
- Be very cautious of ‘no-money-down’ loans. These are just gimmicks, used to encourage people to purchase homes they can’t actually afford.
- Don’t ever lie! Don’t allow anyone at all, including a mortgage broker or realtor, to coerce you into making a false statement (lie!) on your loan application: things like where you’re getting your down-payment from, or overstating your income.
- What are you signing? Never, ever sign a document containing blank lines or a blank document. Be very sure to carefully read and review all loan documents signed at closing. If you’re not really sure what you’re signing, or what your obligations are, then don’t hesitate to ask an attorney to review the documents for you. George Russo and Associates is your local real estate law firm in New York City, Queens and Brooklyn, and we’re to help you with any legal matters pertaining to real estate law. We can check all your legal documentation and ensure that your rights are being protected. See our website and remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry!