With hot housing market watch out for scams that don't get you the most money for your home

RALEIGH, N.C (WTVD) -- The hot housing market is making it the perfect opportunity for sellers to lose money if they don't do their research. While some sellers are getting top dollars for their homes, other homeowners may be leaving money on the table. Part of the buyers in the market are investors who send advertisements in the mail promising to buy your home quickly and for cash.

Several ABC11 viewers sent in offers to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson that they've received in the mail that claim to be purchase agreements for their home or land. The best advice is to not respond when you get these offers, as you need to look at the fine print as some may be way below the current market value.

In one solicitation, a homeowner thought the company was offering her a loan to fix up her home, but in reality, it's a purchase agreement, and it gives the homeowner a chance to re-purchase the home at a very high internet rate.

Another viewer sold her land adjacent to her property for a very low price, with the deal claiming they would pay to fix up her home, but instead she says she's left with empty promises.

The key before entertaining any quick offer is to read and understand the contract and don't go with anything that is said verbally. Nick Hill with the BBB of Eastern North Carolina says, "Maybe the investor is not really who they say they are and they're going to ask you for an upfront fee to maybe conduct inspections or something like that and once you give them that money, they just totally disappear."

BBB recommends the following tips to help you find the right kind of buyer for your home and avoid getting scammed.

Think about your time constraints. With traditional home sales, buyers can require a 45-day escrow period to allow time for appraisals, mortgage approval contingencies, inspections, and the like, which means completing a sale could take several weeks. On the other hand, home investors can usually close in a month or less and iBuyers can close in as little as a week. If time is of the essence, it may be worthwhile to consider one of the faster options, although you'll likely sacrifice profit for speed.

Determine how much profit you need to make. The biggest con of working with a home investor or iBuyer is that you will almost always get a lower offer than you would from a traditional buyer. Traditional buyers may be willing to pay even more than market value for a home they've fallen in love with, while home investors are buying your home solely as an investment. That lack of emotional connection can cost you the profit you may be counting on. Determining how much profit you need to make on the sale of your home ahead of time can help you make a sound decision when you receive an offer from any kind of buyer.

Factor in prep work. When marketing your home to traditional buyers, you'll need to do a fair amount of prep work. Cleaning, decluttering, painting, staging, landscaping, photographing, and listing your home are all vital tasks when getting your home ready to sell. When you sell to an investor, you won't need to invest time and money into this kind of prep-work.

Research investing companies before you do business with them. Always look up businesses on BBB.org before you share personal information or agree to services with them. Make sure the company has an official name, phone number, and physical address. Read customer reviews as well, keeping a close eye on any complaints or reports of dishonest dealings.

Don't fall victim to a home investor scam. Scammers prey on a seller's desire to make a quick sale by offering deals that seem too good to be true. When considering an offer, ask plenty of questions and don't settle for vague answers. Never give money to an investor before the closing date. Complete all transactions through a closing or escrow agent and don't let anyone pressure you into making payments "off the books."

Consider your alternatives. If you aren't pressed for time, consider working with a full-service brokerage. You'll need to do some prep work and it will take more time, but you'll make a much larger profit on the sale of your home. You can also think about renting your home for an amount that covers your mortgage payments or setting up a lease-to-own agreement.
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