How Can I Avoid Mortgage Scams in Florida?
Do you intend to purchase a property, or are you already holding a mortgage? If you answered yes to either of the above questions, avoiding mortgage scams in Florida should be one of your top priorities. Mortgage scam or fraud refers to a type of financial crime where a party falsifies loan documents or tries to illegally benefit from a loan agreement by leveraging a loophole. While these fraudulent activities are a significant cause of concern throughout the country, they are particularly common in Florida.
Victims of mortgage scams have it hard. Besides the financial losses, mortgage scams can cost you your home, ruin your credit score, and cause you extreme emotional anguish. This article will provide you with Florida mortgage scam prevention tips that will help you avoid being in such a situation.
What Are The Common Types of Mortgage Scams in Florida?
Mortgage scams are divided into two broad areas—fraud for housing and fraud for profit. Fraud for housing refers to mortgage scams perpetrated by borrowers in order to secure ownership of a property. An example is when a borrower misrepresents income or asset information when applying for a loan. On the other hand, the perpetrators of fraud for profit are mortgage brokers, appraisers, and professionals in the real estate industry who take advantage of others.
Generally, there are different types of mortgage scams, and they include:
Illegal property flipping happens when a scammer purchases a property with the sole aim of quickly reselling it at an outrageously high price. This is usually done in collaboration with a property appraiser who falsely values the property based on improvements that were never carried out.
Bait-and-switch scams happen when brokers approach you with offers that are too good to be true. However, they don’t intend to keep their promise and will immediately change the terms to your disadvantage soon after you get on board. Bait-and-switch scams are part of a broader type of scam called predatory lending. Other types of predatory lending include equity stripping and loan flipping.
Foreclosure Relief Schemes
Desperate homeowners who are facing potential foreclosure are the usual targets of foreclosure relief schemes. In this type of mortgage scam, the perpetrator convinces them to pay upfront fees or give up important property documents in exchange for a promise to save their home. Unfortunately, the scammer pockets the fees or remortgages the property.
Top 6 Tips to Prevent Mortgage Scams
You can avoid mortgage scams in Florida by taking the following steps:
Get Referrals from Trusted Sources
Ensure that you do your due diligence when scouting for real estate companies and professionals to work with. Ask relevant questions, confirm licenses, verify credentials, speak with their past and current clients, etc. The bottom line is to work with companies that come highly recommended by people you can trust.
Scrutinize Unsolicited Offers And Advice
Receiving unsolicited offers and advice, especially when you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments, is a red flag. For example, offers to modify your interest rates after paying upfront fees strongly indicate a loan modification scam. Instead, always seek advice from tested and trusted real estate professionals.
Never Sign Blank Documents
Signing a blank document is one of the riskiest mistakes you can make when applying for a mortgage loan. Scammers can easily fill in the empty spaces with terms that will be detrimental to you. To avoid this, always ask that they complete the blank spaces with accurate information, which you must thoroughly review before signing.
Avoid “No Money Down” Offers
Mortgage loans that do not require down payments are often gimmicks employed by companies to persuade unsuspecting homebuyers to purchase property they can’t afford. Remember that if any offer sounds too good to be true, it likely is.
Understand The Terms
Never sign a document you don’t understand. Be sure to thoroughly go through all paperwork and pay particular attention to the fine print. Also, ask questions and get adequate clarifications before going ahead with anything.
Consult An Experienced Attorney
One of the most effective ways to avoid mortgage scams is by hiring a skilled real estate lawyer before commencing the loan process. Mortgage scammers get more innovative by the day and can be pretty convincing. However, an experienced attorney will easily spot their tricks and prevent you from signing an unfair deal.
How A Florida Foreclosure Defense Attorney May Save You From The Consequences of Mortgage Scams
As mentioned already, some types of mortgage scams can put you at risk of foreclosure. For example, you may be forced to borrow more money than your property’s worth if it was artificially inflated by the appraiser. This can cause you financial stress and make it more difficult to keep up with mortgage payments. In such cases, the more payments you miss, the closer you are to foreclosure.
If you’re facing foreclosure due to appraisal fraud, predatory lending, etc., a foreclosure defense attorney may save your home by:
- Evaluating your case to identify fraudulent activities
- Providing quality legal advice on the best courses of action to fight the foreclosure
- Negotiating with the lender to modify your loan
- Preventing you from making common foreclosure mistakes
- Challenging foreclosure proceedings.
Below are answers to some of the questions many clients ask:
What should I look out for when choosing a foreclosure defense attorney?
There are numerous factors to consider when choosing a Florida foreclosure defense lawyer. They include expertise in real estate law, affordability, a track record of success, accessibility, and negotiation skills.
How long does a foreclosure take in Florida?
There’s no definite timeline for a foreclosure in Florida. However, it typically takes between 8 to 14 months.
When is the right time to contact my foreclosure defense attorney?
You should contact your Florida foreclosure defense attorney the moment you start defaulting on your mortgage payments. If not, get legal help when you receive a Notice of Default. The earlier you hire an attorney, the higher your chances of a positive outcome.
Am I at risk of falling victim to mortgage scams?
Anyone can fall victim to mortgage scams. However, the most vulnerable targets are first-time homebuyers, homeowners in financial distress, mortgagors in financial distress, borrowers without attorneys or legal backing, and seniors.
Be sure to contact your foreclosure defense lawyer if you have more questions.
Are You Facing Foreclosure Due to a Mortgage Scam? Speak with Attorney Carlos M. Amor ASAP.
Did you fall victim to a mortgage scam in Florida? Are you at risk of foreclosure for this reason? If yes, it is time to act fast to save your home before it’s too late. The good news is that Carlos M. Amor, P.A is always ready to help you fight for your home.
As a compassionate foreclosure defense lawyer with over 15 years of experience, Carlos M. Amor thoroughly understands Florida’s real estate laws. He is also privy to mortgage scams and knows how to spot them in a short time. His knowledge of the ins and outs of the real estate and foreclosure process may be just what you need to save your home.
After a careful case evaluation, Attorney Carlos M. Amor will draw up the most effective strategy to improve your chances of the best outcomes. Our law firm will also provide you with adequate moral support to navigate this trying period of your life.
Schedule a free telephone, video call, or in-person initial consultation with our Florida real estate law firm by dialing (954) 453-7200 today.
ATTORNEY CARLOS M. AMOR
Carlos M. Amor is a skilled and experienced attorney and real estate broker. His legal practice in South Florida focuses on real estate litigation, real estate investments, tax deed and foreclosure auction purchases, traditional real estate transactions, short sales, foreclosure defense, and civil litigation. Carlos thinks “outside the box” and takes a practical approach to finding solutions that benefit his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]