A recent story breaking in Canada recounts how a real estate broker may soon be charged with six counts of fraud for his work with home-buyers, according to this article online. The story caught the media’s attention when one of the real estate broker’s clients reported having purchased a house and then found out that the title wasn’t registered in his name. The client alleged that he agreed to sell a house to David Douglas, the real estate broker under fire. The agreement included a provision that the proceeds of that sale go towards buying another house nearby. The payments, however, apparently went toward a house that was registered in the name of one of Douglas’ employees.
This kind of fraud isn’t uncommon in the U.S. either—real estate loopholes like those being utilized in short sales in Nevada (4.28) walk the line between legal and illegal, but what the Canadian broker did was unquestionably across that line. Texas is a state with a real estate market that, especially in the Hill Country and areas around San Antonio, is ripe for fraud with so many and varied transactions being recorded. San Antonio real estate attorneys like S. Lee Stevenson emphasize the importance of having legal protection whether the client is buying or selling homes or commercial properties.
Usually, commercial real estate transactions at higher selling prices merit the use of San Antonio real estate attorneys—if a buyer is planning to spend millions of dollars, she wants to be sure there are no David Douglases in her deal. But even some smaller commercial real estate transactions, such as in less developed areas of the city or rural areas outside San Antonio would benefit from legal representation. But it’s first-time home buyers and small, residential property sellers that are the easy targets for predatory fraud schemes like Douglas’.
San Antonio real estate attorneys like S. Lee Stevenson recommend that even if a client is purchasing a home for less than $100,000—which is not uncommon in more affordable parts of the city—knowing that someone they trust with the legal knowledge of real estate transactions is on their side can afford peace of mind in what can be a stressful undertaking.
David Douglas may see his broker’s license revoked, which his client sees as a slap on the wrist—and a slap in the face considering the monetary damages he’s claiming. Hiring a lawyer to review contracts in the first place and follow up on the registration and recording of the deed once the house was purchased could have limited the damages, San Antonio real estate attorneys like Stevenson suggest.
In the Texas Hill Country surrounding San Antonio, for example, people often buy second homes—and they too are an easy target. Being complacent in personal experience reviewing contracts from previous home purchases, or too busy to follow-up on the second-home buying or selling intricacies can leave homeowners vulnerable to types of fraud like the one committed by the Canadian broker. “Don’t leave home unprepared” is one motto: not buying or selling one without legal representation could be another useful one for homeowners and investors in real estate in these times.