The housing market feels a lot like the Wild West right now with skyrocketing rent, stagnating home sales and climbing mortgage rates.
Investors hoping to buy homes and resell them at a profit are getting creative in their tactics.
WRAL 5 On Your Side found several instances of various investors sending fake checks to homeowners in the Triangle offering to buy their homes outright.
Surena Johnson lives in a two-story home near the Neuse River in Raleigh. She bought the home in 2008 and has watched the value of it rise.
“It’s a good-sized house,” Johnson said. “Four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms and a fenced-in backyard.”
While she’s contemplated selling it recently, she’s still not ready to put it on the market. That hasn’t stopped investors from trying to get her to do just that. Earlier this summer, she opened her mail and found what appeared to be a check for $298,000 offering to buy her home.
“It said, ‘If you want to get rid of your property, here’s your money and we got more where that came from,’” Johnson said.
Johnson alerted real estate broker Monique Edwards who owns NC Living Realty. Edwards told WRAL 5 On Your Side that she knows of at least three instances of this, each targeting different kinds of Raleigh and Durham homes.
“All three of the individuals had very different circumstances,” Edwards said. “I told all of them to not cash the check.”
WRAL 5 On Your Side then spoke with Attorney Cara Gibbons, who works at Jackson Law. The firm has offices throughout the Triangle. Gibbons handles residential real estate cases and has seen a lot of interesting circumstances, especially in the last year.
“You think you saw the craziest thing and then it’s like, ‘Hold my beer, something else happened,’” she joked.
Gibbons said the check is not legitimate. She explained that there’s no bank name, no number, account or routing number on the check. There’s also a barcode that appears to be used for scanning mail.
“There’s none of the typical things you’d see at the bottom of the check,” Gibbons said.
It is simply a marketing tactic by investors to pique your interest and get you to sell your home to them quickly. So, they can turn around and likely sell it for more.
Gibbons explained that while the expedient nature of these offers is appealing, you might be shortchanging yourself out of money and suggest selling through a more traditional route. She also noted that if you try to cash it a bank might try to accuse of you of cashing a fraudulent check. Although, she said it’s more likely they would just try to educate the person.
WRAL 5 On Your Side reached out to all three of the companies that sent checks.
Ryan Fitzgerald of W Endeavors LLC and Carl Jackson of Offer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Kirk and Karolyn Farmer of Oak City Home Buyers sent the check to Johnson. On the phone with WRAL 5 On Your Side, Kirk Farmer explained that he is new to real estate investing and used the checks to get his company’s name out and advertise. He said the approach wasn’t as successful as they had hoped, and plans to shift his advertising approach in the future.
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