Scam: Online ads for houses listed for sale are sometimes scraped and offered as rentals by those wanting your money!

DangerA quick word of warning to Silicon Valley renters hunting for a home: beware of scams online!

Some nasty folks are copying ads or online fliers  from houses for sale on Trulia and Craigslist and reposting them as rentals at a below market price.

Then when consumers phone the number on the “rental property”, they are told that they have to pay a couple of hundred bucks to fill out the application – sight unseen.

Two of my listings have been scraped in the last year  (once on Trulia and once on Craigslist). Confused consumers drive over to check out the place and are surprised to see the Sereno Group sign in the yard, call and ask me if it’s really both for rent and for sale.  Nope, it’s not.

If it sounds too good to be true, of course it is.  Google the address of any property offered for rent and see if the home is offered for sale, especially if the rent is on the low side or if the person posing as a property manager requires money upfront to see the house.  If you run into one of these creeps who’s committing fraud, please call your local police department and turn ’em in.




Underwater & Considering a Short Sale or Loan Modification?

If you are like many Americans and are “underwater” with your home – that is, owing more than it’s worth – you may be considering whether or not a short sale or loan modification is for you.

Realtors cannot (should not) advise you whether a short sale is in your best interest. You have many choices and should go over them with tax and legal professionals.

One thing to consider before trying a short sale or attempting a loan modification, though, is the veracity of your original loan application.  Some home buyers here in Silicon Valley submitted loan apps that were for “no doc” loans or “stated income” loans.  If what you stated then does not line up with what you submit now, you could find yourself in a load of hot water.

Unhappy lenders are using short sale and loan modification applications as a reason to audit your original loan application.  If you fudged or misrepresented anything back when you applied for financing, you may find yourself the unhappy recipient of a loan fraud lawsuit now.

Your mother was right: honesty is the best policy.  If your loan papers were truthful, you should have nothing to fear by an audit. If you think they fall short, be sure to weigh that in when you factor what is your best course of action now.