The Herald Tribune just ran an article on the explosion in “flipping” houses exposing the latest statistics on the house flipping here in Sarasota.
Many of the houses in foreclosure were purchased in short sales from Banks and then flipped at huge profits within hours or days. Does that sound familiar? Are there inside deals where bank officials are letting the houses go at bargain prices only to be flipped at huge profits within weeks. This is really suspicious when no improvements or renovations are done. Are the same players involved in these deals? The FBI will surely be looking into this as well as Federal bank regulators. The banks may or may not be losing money on these deals. If it was a Freddie Mac loan and they let it go on a short sale, the bank may recover their full loan value and lose nothing. Who then gets defrauded? The taxpayers as usual. That is what gives rise to FBI jurisdiction.
Over the years, as a criminal lawyer, I have defended brokers, buyers, sellers and others involved in mortgage fraud. Fraud may be involved when the loan is taken out. This is the typical fraud on what they called “liar loans” where the buyer falsifies the loan application. This is mostly a thing of the past and the lenders have closed this loophole. The other way fraud can occur is in the foreclosure process where inside deals are made. These inside deals may involve kickbacks but often are done for the benefit of friends and relatives. Once again the flipping is causing an inflated market on homes and running up prices making it tough for the average home owner. What else is new?
It is only a matter of time before the bubble bursts again and only a matter of time for the FBI to once again become involved. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it generally is. It will be interesting to see if the Herald Tribune article prompts the Feds to take a look.