Tampa Real Estate Fraud & Misrepresentation Lawyer
Real estate is valuable, and parties to a real estate transaction stand to make a great deal of money from a purchase and sale, lease, or construction renovation project. Unfortunately, not everybody is interested in making an honest living, and real estate is ripe for fraud and misrepresentation by unscrupulous agents, contractors or outright scam artists. Bad actors prey on people of limited means or who are in financial difficulties, promising financial relief while putting their property at risk or stealing it from them.
If you are deprived of your property, you might lose your most valuable asset and be put in serious financial jeopardy. With the help of a skilled and dedicated Tampa real estate litigation lawyer at Seward Law Office, you can recover money damages for the loss in value to your property, the cost to repair or replace a defect, lost profits, closing costs, emotional distress and other legal damages. Read on to learn about some of the ways you could be victimized by real estate fraud or misrepresentation, and call Seward Law Office if you believe you have been taken advantage of in a real property transaction, home repair scam or other similar situation.
Most realtors are honest, hardworking real estate professionals, and the Seward Law Office is proud to represent real estate agents and brokers in a variety of legal capacities throughout the greater Tampa Bay area. Every profession has its bad apples, however, and real estate is no exception. Realtors are in the business of helping buyers or sellers in real property transactions, and buyers and sellers alike rely on the expertise real estate agents offer. As professionals, realtors are held to the standard of care and competence expected of other members of the profession. They also owe fiduciary duties toward their clients, meaning they must put the clients’ interests ahead of their own and not act in ways to enrich themselves at their clients’ expense.
Real estate agents could wind up liable to pay money damages for the harm they cause by purposely lying about or withholding information from the buyer in furtherance of a sale, such as misinformation regarding structural issues with a building, its true square footage, discrepancies regarding the property line and other matters that directly impact the value or worth of a particular piece of property. Real estate litigation attorney Alicia Seward and her team at Seward Law Office represent parties in claims involving alleged realtor malpractice in Tampa.
Other Real Estate Fraud and Misrepresentation Tactics
It’s a dangerous world out there, and Florida is rife with scam artists looking to wrongfully acquire money or property from a homeowner or a buyer or seller in a real estate transaction. Some of the most common and costly schemes to look out for are:
Foreclosure bailout – Also known as foreclosure rescue, bailouts are lease-buyback schemes that purport to save your home from foreclosure by taking over your property and then leasing it back to you. What victims to this scam find out is that the lease terms are impossible to afford. Companies may also promise a loan modification or workout with no intention of delivering a service, although they’ll demand money upfront and string you along as long as they can before disappearing. Some bailout lenders may be legitimate. Just make sure you do your homework before signing anything, so you don’t get ripped off.
Home equity fraud – In this scam, a company takes over your mortgage and strips your home of its equity by cashing out the equity, all the while charging you rent for the privilege of staying in what used to be your own home. Identity thieves might also hijack your Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or open a HELOC in your name but divert the cash to themselves. You only find out about the fraud when you get notified you are late making payments on a loan you didn’t know you had, and you’re in danger of losing your home.
Home renovation fraud – Home repair scams are one of the chief operating areas of thieves and con artists, so be especially wary when people approach you regarding home repair, as opposed to you reaching out to a company for repairs you know you need. They might ring your bell and say they are working in the area and saw problems with your roof, or they finished another job early and have extra materials left over, so they can do a quick repair for you at a discounted rate. Another scam involves offering a free inspection, which is really just an opportunity to tear off a shingle or damage your property behind your back to make you think you need repairs. Or they may walk you around the house for an inspection while their accomplice breaks into the house for a quick theft. Fraudulent companies take money upfront for materials and then disappear, or they’ll start a job, take some of your money and never finish the work. Worst of all, they might climb on to your roof for a “free” inspection and then pretend to have an accident and extort a cash settlement from you. Don’t get pressured into accepting a deal that sounds too good to be true. Make sure any contractors are licensed and bonded, and check their references before hiring them to do a job, however small.
Rental fraud – Fraudulent listings may refer to a property that does not exist or one that is not theirs to rent. Or the property may be real but not as advertised (the old bait-and-switch). You might have already paid over an application fee, security deposit or even rent before you discover the fraud, or you’ve given up sensitive personal information to an identity thief.
Timeshare fraud – Florida is home to hundreds of timeshare resorts, and thousands of people buy timeshares and enjoy their vacations here for years to come. Too many, however, fall victim to high-pressure sales tactics and experience buyer’s remorse. For others, a timeshare might have worked initially, but now a spouse has passed away, or they can no longer afford the maintenance fees. The timeshare resale industry is a haven for scammers who get lists of timeshare owners and set up boiler room telemarketing operations, pretending to offer you a profitable way out of your timeshare. What happens instead is they take money from you to set up escrow or title services and then disappear, or the “buyer” they had “lined up” backs out, but you’re out of thousands of dollars.
Victim of Real Estate Fraud or Misrepresentation in Tampa? Seward Law Office Can Help
For advice and representation to help you out of a difficult spot when you’ve been victimized by real estate fraud or misrepresentation, call Seward Law Office in Tampa at 813-252-6789.