Real estate fraud is a pretty common issue that real estate attorneys face, especially in booming real estate markets in California. Real estate fraud is when an individual or agency produces false information or misrepresents any information for a real estate negotiation. There are many ways this type of fraud can happen, and it can involve several parties, so it’s crucial to understand the different types of fraud and how you can prevent it.
Different Types of Real Estate Fraud
Some of the main types of real estate fraud are mortgage fraud, foreclosure fraud, value fraud, and title fraud. Mortgage fraud is the misrepresentation of data related to real estate property that can result in criminal transactions. Foreclosure fraud is when a property is improperly foreclosed on, which results in the owner having to move out of his or her home and falsely give up the property. Value fraud is when a buyer receives false information about the actual value of the property. Title fraud is when a title is falsely changed or altered using criminal methods.
Has There Been a Rise of Real Estate Fraud in California?
In recent California real estate news, there has been an increase in stories related to individuals committing property fraud. Couples and family members in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz were recently accused of operating fake distressed properties websites and committing mortgage relief frauds. There have been various con and scam artists involved with claiming false price gouging during the large forest fires in California in the last few months.
How Can You Prevent It?
There are some ways to stop real estate frauds and catch the party in the act. The number one way to prevent this is by not rushing into finalizing any real estate transactions until you’ve received all the necessary and accurate information. You can also conduct your own investigation of the real estate agents and brokers you’re working with, and you can additionally get an appraisal of the property you plan on buying or selling. Read documents very carefully before you sign them, especially if the documents are presented for electronic signature in DocuSign. Lastly, always keep copies of all signed documents for your files, just in case there is miscommunication.
Peters, Habib, McKenna, Juhl-Rhodes & Cardoza, LLP provides extensive real estate litigation services to clients throughout Northern California. Contact our law firm to help settle any real estate fraud disputes you or someone you know may have.