SPONSORED CONTENT FROM THE EAGLE ROCK NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL
We are reaching out to senior homeowners in the community to take precaution and be prepared when considering selling or tapping equity in their homes, especially when approached by solicitors.
It has been brought to the attention of local residents and the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council that as real estate prices continue to skyrocket and housing shortages loom, seniors in our community are being targeted by potential buyers with less-than ethical intentions.
Of course, not all buyers pose a potential housing scam. The “buyers” we are referring to in this article use a variety of tactics to convince seniors to sell their homes for under market value or to take out reverse mortgages with unfavorable terms. Margaret Irwin, ERNC’s Elder Director says, “Selling a home is a very personal and emotional decision. It is important to be informed of your options before agreeing to anyone interested in purchasing it. I am happy that the ERNC can provide important housing resources to our neighbors, especially the most vulnerable and elderly.”
A lifelong resident of Eagle Rock, age 71, sold his childhood home last fall after he was solicited by a “cash for your home” buyer who promised him a quick cash transaction, which appealed to him because the decision to sell his family home was an emotional one.
The solicitor warned him off listing the property with realtors. He misled the Eagle Rock senior that he would have to address any deferred maintenance on the property to work with a realtor, and also warned that a realtor would take a large fee and drag out the process. When in fact, the process with the solicitor dragged out for months.
After the deed finally closed, the senior learned that the solicitor never bought the house and never intended to. He had simply locked the senior up in a contract at a low price until he could find someone to buy the contract and the house at a premium. The solicitor charged more than $100,000 for the contract to the home without making any improvements to the house.
“Be careful of the people that solicit you,” this lifelong Eaglerocker says, “realtors are going to charge a commission, but they are going to have your back better. It might sound like a lot of money they’re offering, but most likely they are lowballing you.”
Marco Juarez Ponce of Coldwell Banker Realty advised, “These cash buyers are looking for motivated or desperate sellers. For example, let’s say you listed your home, but the listing eventually expired without resulting in a sale. At this point, you would probably be contacted by a cash buyer.
Juarez Ponce continued: “They’re hoping you’ll be discouraged by your failure on the open market and will be willing to sell your house for cash at a reduced price. In the same vein, cash buyers go after people in situations that require a fast sale such as divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and probate sales.”
Local resident, Alexis, reported, “Since last fall, we watched one elderly neighbor lose her home in a reverse mortgage that she believed she needed to qualify for Medicare, another elderly neighbor to a cash4ur home-type scheme and saw another elderly neighbor illegally evicted during the pandemic by an aggressive flipper buying the house he was renting. All were acquired by house flippers who benefitted from these predatory practices to get “a deal.” It really opened my eyes to how ubiquitous these practices are and how vulnerable seniors in our community are. I hope we can raise more awareness, but I also hope we can get attention on the issue at the city and state level to provide more protections and regulations.”
If you want to sell your home or borrow against it, you have options and there are many resources to help you make an educated and responsible decision. Please check out any of the resources listed where qualified experts can help you get the best outcome, and if possible, avoid responding to solicitors who may not have your best interest in mind.
For anyone considering a reverse mortgage, please consider contacting HUD to make sure they are working with an approved reverse mortgage counselor. Phone: (800) 569-4287
The Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council does not endorse any realtor nor advise any resident on real estate decisions. This PSA is for public information made available to all residents.
Available Housing Resources before selling your home:
Housing Rights Center (Fair Housing) – Non-profit counselors available to provide advice and education to homeowners and tenants:
Hotline: (800) 477-5977 / Website: https://www.housingrightscenter.org/
California Department of Fair Housing – State agency available to provide advice regarding housing discrimination: Communication Center – Phone – (800) 884-1684 (voice),
(800) 700-2320 (TTY) / Website: https://www.dfeh.ca.gov/
Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department –
In case you choose to not sell and need home modifications because of your age or disabilities:
Handy Worker Program – Provides free minor home repairs and limited safety/security device improvements to low-income older adults aged 62 years and older or disabled resident homeowners or homeowners with disabled relatives residing with them. Income limits apply. Emergency repairs that directly affect the health and safety of occupants are also provided to other homeowners if their income does not exceed the limits regardless of age or disability status. If you want more information or are interested in receiving services from this program, you may contact the office by calling (213) 808-8803.
FBI – Latest Information on Housing scams: