LA County Assessor Jeff Prang Offers Newsletter for Real Estate Pros

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Every Real Estate professional might consider offering the prospective homeowner at the time of closing on the purchase of a house that the Homeowners' Exemption likely may reduce the assessed value of the home they are buying. Closing costs can be significant. It might be nice at the same time to offer the home buyer the property tax savings available to them. One more tip: Consider including a Homeowners' Exemption form at all of your clients' closings.

Real Estate Fraud: A Cautionary Tale

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The dream of home ownership remains one of the most important goals for many residents of Los Angeles County. Unfortunately, real estate scams can steal these dreams with a single forged signature or get-rich-quick scheme.

While anyone may fall prey to one of these scams, the groups most targeted by real estate scammers are usually the elderly, homeowners already in foreclosure, and individuals with low incomes.

The following is a set of examples of the types of real estate scams that are pervasive across the country. Tap on the links for a full explanation of each scam. 

 

Remember: Knowledge is the best prevention.

 

Masquerading as official government communiques that promise to provide the homeowner with a deed at an elevated cost or other materials that in truth cost nothing or very little. 

Home title fraud occurs when someone obtains the title of your property—usually by stealing your identity—to change ownership on your property title from your name to theirs. The fraudster can then secure as many loans as possible using your equity as collateral. The real homeowner often is completely unaware of the scam until the lender starts to send letters indicating they intend to foreclose on the home. 

Escrow Wire Fraud
You get an email, phone call or text from someone purporting to be from the title or escrow company with instructions on where to wire your escrow funds. Fraudsters set up fake websites that appear similar to the title or lending company you’re working with, making it seem like the real deal. Scammers use spoofing tactics to make phone numbers, websites and email addresses appear familiar, but one number or letter is off — an easy thing to miss at first glance.

Loan Flipping
Loan flipping is when a predatory lender persuades a homeowner to refinance their mortgage repeatedly, often borrowing more money each time. The scammer charges high fees and points with each transaction, and homeowners get stuck with higher loan payments they can’t afford after being duped into borrowing most of their home’s equity.

Foreclosure Relief
People who fall on hard times and get behind on their mortgage payments can become desperate to save their homes. That’s when scammers, who have access to public records of homes in pre-foreclosure, swoop in with offers of foreclosure relief to capitalize on homeowners’ vulnerability. Some fraudsters claim they’re affiliated with the government or government housing assistance programs, and can swindle homeowners out of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in fees, according to the Federal Trade Commission, or FTC.

Rental Scams
Scammers post property rental ads on Craigslist or social media pages to lure in unsuspecting renters, sometimes using photos from other listings. The scammers, who have no connection to the property or its owner, will ask for an upfront payment to let you see the property or hold it as a deposit. In reality, they’re just looking to get quick cash through nefarious means.

For more information about real estate fraud, including information about reverse mortgages, please visit the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs website

Death of a Property Owner: A Closer Look

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Put plainly: If the property owner dies, notify the Assessor's Office. In other words, the Assessor’s Office must be notified upon the death of an owner within 150 days of that death. Click the button to complete and submit the Change of Ownership Statement (Death of Real Property Owner). This form is required even if the deceased held the property in a trust. Remember, even if the property is in a trust that doesn't preclude notification of the death. Also, there are consequences if a change of ownership is not provided within the time frame allotted. For a Closer Look...