The following content is from the flyer "Thining About Selling Your Home?", prepared by Atlanta Legal Aid Society, last reviewed September, 2019.
Find out how to identify and avoid scams when selling your home.
Protect your investment
1. If you really don’t want to sell your home but you are struggling with your mortgage or property taxes and want to save your home from foreclosure, call Atlanta Legal Aid.
2. If you really want to sell your home, hire a licensed and reputable real estate agent.
3. Talk with different real estate agents before deciding whom to hire.
4. Research the sale prices of similar homes in your neighborhood and surrounding areas.
5. Obtain comparisons from your real estate agent before agreeing to a listing price.
6. Have your own attorney review any papers before you sign anything.
What’s the problem?
As Atlanta housing prices skyrocket, scammers and investors prey on unsuspecting homeowners with the goal of stealing the title to the home and all the equity in the home.
Investors who attempt to buy your home quickly will pay you far less than what your home is worth.
DO NOT SIGN ANYTHING WITHOUT GETTING ADVICE FROM YOUR OWN LAWYER!
Whom do scammers usually target?
• Homeowners who are elderly and/or disabled
• Homeowners facing foreclosure or otherwise financially struggling
• Homeowners of color, especially in credit starved and gentrifying communities
Which homes do scammers usually target?
• Homes that either have no mortgage or carry a low mortgage balance
• Older homes in need of repair
• Homes in areas that are gentrifying
Common Home Scam Features
Quick, “as-is” Sales: Scammers offer to buy your home “quick” and “as-is.” Scammers don’t want you to take time to evaluate whether the deal is fair and legitimate and whether your interests will be protected.
Aggressive tactics: Scammers make repeated phone calls, send multiple solicitation letters, and make unannounced visits to your home in order to catch you in their trap.
Bad advice: Scammers say you don’t have to worry about paying a real estate agent. They promise that they “take care of everything.” But the scammer takes care of himself, and you have no one to protect your interests.
Low purchase price: The scammer doesn’t show you any legitimate comparable sales, pays you a small amount, and turns around and sells it to someone else for a large profit.
Your mortgage is not paid off: Scammers take title to your home and in some cases do not pay off your mortgage. You try to buy or rent another place, but can’t because the mortgage on the house you sold is still in your name and on your credit report.
Fake liens are added: Scammers add fake liens to your property, which they falsely claim must be paid at closing. This leaves less money for you and more to the scammer and his confederates.
Foreclosure Rescue Scams
Scammers prey on those facing foreclosure, and make false promises to save the equity in your home. He falsely promises to buy your home and pay you $10,000. Instead of a sales contract, he has you sign a deed giving him title to the home. He then stops the foreclosure by catching up the mortgage. Instead of paying you anything he quickly evicts you. You never receive any money. The scammer then sells your home to someone else for a hefty profit, or uses your home to scam others.
Learn Your Legal Rights!
If you think you may have been trapped in a home sale scam or foreclosure rescue scam, please call or text the Atlanta Legal Aid Home Scams Hotline: (770) 648-4290, or call the Legal Aid office located in the county where you reside.
54 Ellis Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
246 Sycamore Street, Suite 120
Decatur, GA 30030
30 South Park Square
Marietta, GA 30090
77 Cleveland Avenue, SW
Atlanta, GA 30315
324 West Pike Street, Suite 200
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
Senior Legal Hotline
(404) 657-9915 OR 1(888) 257-9519
Georgia Relay Center
Dial 711 for relay services