Can I Really Buy That Orlando House For Sale for $10.00? – Biggest Florida Property Scams Debunked – Part 1!

    Received a call last month from someone actually believing that they could purchase a home in Orlando, FL for  a “transfer value” of $10.oo. The call came from a client who had been on Trulia and saw a listing for RealtyTrac.com for a 4 bed 2 bath house for a $10.00″transfer value” and he wanted to place an offer.  This company has these all over the Internet, on every site, every side bar, every place you can advertise. (SEE AD FOR YOURSELF).  After some investigating on this company and these types of ads, I ran across a lot of misleading information about these little listings and feel it is a HUGE injustice to home buyers to be so horribly misled. I began receiving more and more calls and emails about these types of listings, so I decided  to write this post explaining how and why these ads are deceiving and how and why they are able to be displayed and advertised despite their misleading nature.

     

    We’ve all seen them before -beautiful homes with great pics advertised on Trulia , Zillow, Cyberhomes and more for RealtyTrac.com. These adstypically highlight or advertise a ‘listing’ for a great house with 4 beds  , and 2 baths for a $10.00 ‘transfer value’ and despite our best, clear-headed thinking and judgement we click it, after all , what could happen! From there, the website you are on will show you a beautiful listing with a $10.00 “transfer value” price tag which sounds like all I have to do is pay $10.00 and they will transfer the home to me! This ad is convincing, highlighting the schools in the area, the aerial maps ,square footage of the home and many of the features that an authentic listing would have on Trulia or Zillow with a description that says:

     

    “Bank Repossessed- This property has completed the foreclosure process and is now owned by the foreclosing
    lender, which took title to the property for an estimated consideration (loan
    balance plus other fees and costs). Foreclosing lenders are often motivated to
    sell bank-owned properties (also known as REO, or Real Estate Owned) quickly
    because they are non-performing assets. Please register for a free trial with
    RealtyTrac to access complete information for this property, including full
    address, foreclosure details, lender information, and more.

    Wow, sounds great right,?

    Wrong!  Anyone seeing this might think:

    “Hey Sign me up. I have $10.00 to spend to transfer this property to me! Who doesn’t for a house like that? As a matter of fact I have a lot more than that so I can probably buy about 800 of these things right? I don’t have a law degree or real estate license or understand a lot of the jargon, but the general consensus sounds good. Maybe I should register and check it out!”

    And people do every single day. They register and fall for the gimmicky ad which to get you to click on their site and register with RealtyTrac.com for their paid tracking program on area foreclosures – a service which is free to you by searching the orange county court property records and tax records online.  If you are feeling a bit silly for believing such a property could exist for such a low price,….DON’T. In just one day of being advertised, 1,237 people clicked on exactly like you clicked on the same home on Trulia (see link) and out of that amount, probably 400 of those people registered with them online! You may be asking “well,..how can they advertise it if it isn’t accurate” and this is the concern of many Realtors like myself that run into these ads and here is the answer:

    READ THE FINE PRINT!!!!

    In the ad,  (see link) there is a little tiny question mark next to transfer value, if you blink you will miss it but when you click on it you get a disclosure in a pop up box that says:

                  Transfer Value
    “Amount paid for the property the last time it sold. In the case of Pre-Foreclosure and Auction properties, this amount represents the amount the owner in default paid for the property when he or she  originally purchased it. In the case of REOs, this usually represents the winning bid amount at the auction and, therefore, the amount the foreclosing lender needs to recoup to break even.”
    Wow now that’s a mouthful especially for a person that is not licensed or a lawyer! The average reader may interpret this to mean that this is a.) the amount someone paid when the house was sold last or b.) is the total amount the owner of the home paid when they bought it or c.)  the amount the bank paid in a winning bid amount that is also the amount they need to break even on their purchase of the home.

    Here is the actual truth behind these little disclaimers:

    a.) “Amount paid for the property the last time it sold”
    Yes $10.00 could have been a fee included in the amount paid for the property by the owner but it certainly is not the only amount!!!! Most likely this is the recording fee for the property deed or some other small nominal fee associated with the title for the property that was purchased by the owner. However the way it is written makes it seem like the owner paid $10.00 for the property the last time it sold and it makes the lie convincing.
    b.) “In the case of Pre-Foreclosure and Auction properties:” “this amount represents the amount the owner in default paid for the property when he or she  originally purchased it”
    Same thing here! In a pre-foreclosure property – the home owner is still the property owner until the foreclosure gets a final judgement so this would be a nominal fee the home owner paid as part of their property purchase (most likely a recording fee that they are referring to) which technically is an amount paid by the owner for the property, it is not the TOTAL amount paid but it is an amount that was paid by them. Then the disclaimer goes on to say “in an auction property, this this amount represents the amount the owner in default paid for the property when he or she  originally purchased it”   An auction property could mean a tax sale, a foreclosure or any type of auction including an owner selling a property tied to an estate sale.  Realistically could such a property have had an opening bid of $10.00? Again, yes but most likely this is not the total paid for the property and is still very misleading.
    c.) ”In the case of REOs, this usually represents the winning bid amount at the auction and, therefore, the amount the foreclosing lender needs to recoup to break even.”
    Once the mortgaging bank is awarded a final judgement from the courthouse, the property is usually auctioned off with a starting bid of the total amount of the judgement. So in a case where there is a property that was listed for a $10.00 transfer value, this is referring to the $10.00 paid over and above what was originally owed to the mortgaging bank not the total amount of the judgement. Again, very misleading but cleverly written to get your interest and encourage you to sign up.
    These ads work very well to get people thinking that there are hundreds of rock bottom homes out there for 2,900 sq feet going for $10.00 in Orlando and I am here to tell you this is not the case.  In the early 20th Century, George C. Parker and William McCloundy went around selling similar ideas to travelers from far and wide showcasing the wonders and glory of a very popular piece of real estate in New York. Unlike then, the laws have changed so that these types of scams cannot directly sell you something you cannot buy, however there is no law against trickery to get you to click onto their site. In our high-speed world, SEO and google page rankings determine the lead quotient and 500 leads = 300 calls – 150 sales so if this works for 1,237 people in one day, Realtytrac’s SEO  results and registered users will be sky high. It works and no one is stopping them but be smart enough to read between the lines and not buy into their gimmick! After all, if you really believe you can buy a 4 bed, 2 bath 2900 sq foot home for $10.00,… I’m sure George C. Parker and William McCloundy still have a bridge to sell ya!

     

     

    August 10, 2011 Posted Under: Buyers, Florida Property Scams & Gimmicks   Read More

    Leasing in Orlando, FL?? – 3 Things You Should Know Before You Apply!

    If you are looking to rent a home in Central Florida, you are not alone!  Since April 1st of this year, in Orange County alone, there have been over 1800 properties leased or rented according to the MLS.  Similar numbers can be traced to last year at the start of the foreclosure explosion  in the earlier half of the year.  With many Central Floridians in a holding pattern when it comes to being able to purchase a home, it is little surprise that rental prices are on the rise from last year’s numbers. In fact the average rental price in Central Florida is $1,000 , up 15% from last years numbers.

     

    With such a strong marketplace for rentals, it is important that prospective tenants arm themselves with the knowledge they need to get approved on that next lease application so here is what you need to know before you apply.

    1.)  Double Check Your Scores and Clean Up mistakes Before You Apply – They could Cost You Your Lease and Big $$

    3 Things You Should Know Before You Apply!

    1.)  Fix the FICO!!!

    As a Realtor who assists many would be tenants with lease applcations I have seen the disappointment when an application is denied. The primary reason for the denial 9 times out of  10 is a low FICO score. The average fico score required for an approval on a lease is 600 according to most property managers here in Central Florida. If your score falls below this range, you may have a lot of explaining to do when it comes to applying for a lease. Individual owners renting their homes out are very judgemental when it comes to low FICO scores and will usually require additional security deposits upfront in excess of what is usually being asked due to low FICO scores. With so much competition for the best leases, owners can afford to cherry pick their leases for the best credit scores and this means you may find yourself at the back of the line when applying for that home lease.  With credit applcation averaging a $50.00 per application fee, this could be a big mistake that could cost you a lot down the road so clean up that credit before it is time to move and dispute any inaccurancies on your report.  Freecreditreport.com is a great resource to utilize to check your score, and get a full report with a free monitorig trial to help you get your score higher.

    2.) Honesty is Always the Best Policy!

    Have a bankruptcy? Foreclosure? Previous Landlord dispute?  if so be sure to let them know up front. When you agree to a lease applcation you agree to submit yourself to a background check, criminal check, and credit check so your entire history will soon be shared with the property owner. Lying about your rental history, credit, or background will only cost you the lease but if you sit down and explain the details behind the blemish in your background, many owners will see this as a sign that they can trust you.  While spilling your situation can be humbling, it is a great way to show how you have gotten past a hardship and are ready to build credit and trust with a literal new lease on life.

    3.) Be Prepared and Get on the Move!

    Regardless of when you begin to look at leases, there are only so many properties available and the good ones go quick, so you really dont have have a lot of time to waste. Don’t delay in getting that applcation in asap.  Most properties listed for rent in the area are fishing for a move in date right away and in the leasing arena, he who had the closest move in date, best credit, and deposit in hand , usually wins. Make sure you have at least your first month’s rent and security deposit saved and approximately $250.00 for 5 applcation fees at $50.00 per applcation as you may not strike gold on the first applcation depending on how desirable the property is. At approximately $50.00 a pop, these non-refundable application fees can really add up so be sure to double check that there is not already a lease in the works before putting down your non-refundable deposit for the application as you may just be making a donation to the owner’s early retirement fund.

    As long as you follow these basic rules, you should be in tip top shape to find a great Central Florida rental property and if you need assistance locating a rental property in the Orlando area, be sure to contact me  for advice, listings, and showings for some of the areas best property leases.

    May 17, 2011 Posted Under: Orlando Rental Listings   Read More

    Orlando Home Resales: Closings Up, Prices down

    Orlando Home Resales: Closings Up, Prices down

    Orlando Home Resales: Closings Up, Prices down by Mary Shanklin, Orlando Sentinel

    Existing-home prices dropped more sharply in Metro Orlando than almost anywhere else in Florida last year, according to a report released Thursday by Florida Realtors.

    A year ago, some local market watchers were predicting that resale prices had hit bottom, but they fell another 9 percent during 2010, dropping from a median of $144,000 to $131,400 in the four-county metro area (Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake). Prices in Volusia and Polk counties dropped by the same percentage.

    Statewide, only Ocala’s prices fell further, slumping 13 percent from the end of 2009.

    Unlike some other large metropolitan areas that were already close to being built out, Orlando experienced explosive growth during the housing bubble, Arlick said. When the market slumped, the larger inventory contributed to a pool of foreclosure properties that continue to weigh down prices. She noted that both prices and demand now appear to be edging up.

    Across the state, prices dropped 4 percent during 2010, falling from a median of $142,500 to $136,500 by year’s end.

    At least Orlando’s slumping prices stoked the market: The metro area had 26,808 sales last year, up 12 percent from the year before. Ocala was the only metro area to exceed that sales pace, with a 21 percent growth spurt in existing-home sales.

    Florida home sales overall rose 5 percent during the year, with 170,848 homes sold compared with 162,873 sold in 2009. And last year’s total was 37.5 percent higher than the state’s 2008 total, records show.

    “It’s encouraging to close out the year for Florida’s housing market with increased sales activity,” said Patricia Fitzgerald, this year’s Florida Realtors president. “The home-buyer tax credits helped to fuel home and condo sales during the first half of 2010, while favorable affordability conditions and historically low mortgage rates continued to bring buyers into the market in the waning months of the year.”

    The biggest spike in activity for Florida real estate last year was in condominium sales, which increased 29 percent statewide. In Metro Orlando, condo sales jumped 54 percent, with 8,563 units changing hands.

    The latest industry outlook from National Association of Realtors forecasts a gradual recovery in 2011.

    “Continuing gains in home sales are encouraging, and the positive impact of steady job creation will more than trump some negative impact from a modest rise in mortgage interest rates, which remain historically favorable,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said Thursday.

    January 21, 2011 Posted Under: Buyers, Orlando Market & Trend Reports   Read More

    Orlando Home Prices – How Low Can They Go!

    Orlando Home Prices – How Low Can They Go!

    by: Melissa A. Scire

    It seems like we have certainly seen our fair share of fence sitters so far this year and who could blame them, one minute 2010 is predicted as being the “it” year for real estate , the next a total nightmare , doomed to fare worse than the year before. Despite the bi-polar back and forth of area experts, I wanted to give you the honest-to – goodness, stone cold facts, and just the facts to help you come to your own conclusions.

    Jobs in Orlando are hard to come by right now with an overall underemployed /unemployment rate of over 12% as up from last year’s numbers and more cutbacks and  job losses will be expected before we look to 2011. Building is beginning to slow in Central Florida as there is less of a demand for housing right now and builders are exploring other areas where real estate is holding its own slightly better than Orlando’s current market. Home hunters are finding excellent deals in Orlando due to a high number of short sales which are just now entering the market. Short sale interest is beginning to increase now that the foreclosure flood has begun to dwindle down but a third wave of foreclosures is expected to be the worse yet before the year is out.

    According to a survey conducted by the NAR ( National Association of Realtors), 47.7 percent of Orlando homes listed for sale in February included at least one price reduction, with sellers on average reducing the list price 2.39 times — the highest of ANY of 27 major housing markets that were surveyed.  Sellers are slashing their prices and being aggressive to attract buyer interest before prices continue to drop and are getting competitive to own their share of the market to give the foreclosures and short sales a run for their money. 

    Highlights of Orlando’s Real Estate Market Snapshot compared to the rest of Florida look something like this: 
    The number of price-reduced homes on the market in Orlando rose 17.1
    percent in February compared to January copared to Miami, who has the second highest number of reduced-price homes available for sale nationally, though 4.7 percent fewer in February compared to
    January. Only Chicago has more price reduced homes listed for sale
    nationally by comparison.

    – Sellers in the Orlando area has continually reduced their list price by a 15 percent margin on average over the past year  – more than double the national average of 7.4 percent

    July 8, 2010 Posted Under: Orlando Market & Trend Reports   Read More


    Melissa A. Scire - Your Orlando Real Estate Chick ~ Ph: 407-575-6455 ~ Email: me@orlandorealestatechick.com

    Design By Scire Tech Solutions