Choose Your Short Sale Champion Carefully!
In the past fiscal year, the federal government has prosecuted 530 mortgage rescue scam artists! Many of those prosecutions are centered in Florida and California, but if only 1/50th of them were in Virginia, that means there are at least eleven wicked self-proclaimed short sale or loan modification experts operating in our state whose real expertise is in collecting fees for themselves rather than protecting the interests of our many, many financially distressed homeowners. This latest government crackdown involved cases in which fraudsters “victimized more than 73,000 homeowners”. It is quite likely that these approximately 1,500 Virginians who were victimized by the bad guys who have been caught are only the tip of the iceberg!
All of which is to say that you need to be extremely cautious before you hire a short sale advocate! Do your research and ask for references. Many realtors are under pressure to either be your advocate or to steer you to an in-house advocate that may pay rent or give other benefits to their brokers. You should vet your realtor’s recommendation just as you would any other recommendation. . . . even if your realtor recommends using this law firm! You have far too much money, credit, and peace of mind at stake to not shop for the best professional you can find to help you with your short sale or loan modification.
Five important questions you should ask: (1) How many short sales have you handled in the past year? (2) Can you give me the names and phone numbers for three references we can contact about how you handled the process? (3) How is your compensation paid and how much is it? (4) What exactly will you do for me? Is your work limited to obtaining a release of my mortgage company’s lien or will you help defend me against any deficiency after closing? (5) What are your professional credentials for helping me? Are you an attorney so that you can actually “represent” me or are you just a negotiator who facilitates a closing?
Obviously, the fee you pay to complete a short sale is not a “life time retainer” for protection against your creditors, but it is important for you to know exactly what you can expect for the fees you pay and also to know the difference between the protection you receive from an attorney who represents you in a short sale and non-lawyer negotiators.