After posting a number of articles about my experiences with hard money lenders, reading a number of posts, and investigating web sites offering Real Estate hard money loans, I have come to the conclusion, much of Real Estate hard money lending is like chasing the wind. Most web sites charge a fee. Some give you a few names they claim will provide money, but in today’s age of research show how little they actually have to offer. I am the type of guy who believes one should exhibit the morals they live by. Demanding money before providing a service is not what the Real Estate industry is founded on. Real Estate Agents and Brokers do not see a dime until the job is done and the deal is successfully closed. The same with Title companies and others involved in the industry. Inspectors do not charge until they show up at the property, perform the inspection, showing the client their expertise and value. This is the moral standard the Real Estate industry should build upon. But the advent of the computer age has tried long and hard to change that.

A Little on Wisconsin Laws on Referrals

There are laws governing referral fees. The Internet opened doors for a number of industries to come in and side step those laws. In Wisconsin no one is allowed to split commission, or pay a referral fee to anyone who is not a licensed Real Estate Agent or Broker. The same is true for lenders. Out of state on line companies ignore this law by advertising a referral service, then try calling it an advertising fee to get around the law. Think of what this is doing to the Real Estate industry. If you are selling your home, your most important asset, do you really want to begin a business relationship with any company willing to break the law to make a sale? This is why I do not and will not participate in any unlicensed referral service. If these services were legitimate, they would wait until the transaction closed before collecting any fee.

Fees

Lenders are the only aspect of Real Estate that charge an up front fee. Usually an application fee and funds to pay for the appraisal. The appraiser gets paid after providing services, but before closing, whether or not the transaction closes. But what about hard money lenders? Based on experience and the things I see on the Internet, much of the so called hard money industry is based on up front fees with little or no success based on the company you are dealing with. I suspect many of those companies exist only as a web site with no hard cash to back them up. The problem is, how do you tell the difference? What can you do to protect yourself? Who can you trust?

Search for a Real Estate Hard Money Loan

The first logical step would be a local Real Estate Agent. Most work in offices with a number of Agents dedicated to helping one another, which establishes a network of information and people. Call around until you find someone with a local connection for a personal hard money loan. You are always better off dealing with someone face to face, hopefully a licensed lender able to arrange a loan with private funds for of course a fee. Within minutes, at the most a day or two, you should be able to find out if you qualify. They should also be able to discuss terms in simple language. Ask questions about fees, length of the loan, penalties, and options. Don’t forget to clarify the cost of the options. Ask for everything in writing to review. This may cost you an application fee, but local fees are normally far less than those charged by Internet based companies. It is also a good idea to have your attorney review everything before you sign. Who knows, once your attorney sees the conditions, they may want to provide you with a private loan.

Highest and Best Offer

To deal with the highest and best offer requires a constant monitoring of email accounts. Most often we are given about 24 hours to reply. It also requires a great deal of organization to have the information to fill in the counter offer, get it signed and submitted on time. Today’s technology allows us to do things quicker, but only if you have the information and programs available.

One of the features used by Real Estate Agents is E-sign. A counter offer can be quickly generated and e-mailed to a client for review and signature. Once it is returned, submitted to the Listing Agent or uploaded to sites such as Homepath. The other alternative is to have a blank form available and meet personally with the Buyer for their review and signature.

This exemplifies the need to have all the details in place before bidding. One of the biggest obstacles we face in Real Estate is Buyers dragging their feet, taking their time providing proof of funds, or a preapproval letter from a licensed lender. Most Sellers, or asset managers will not consider an offer if it is not accompanied with proof of funds or a preapproval letter. Once we enter the counter offer stage requiring a highest and best bid, it leaves little time to tie up loose ends.

The number of people calling me, thinking they know what it takes to buy foreclosed properties surprises me. Many of them watch online videos produced by companies which may, or may not exist, often paying fees to receive online advice. It seems online video viewers are the majority of unprepared buyers. They take advice from someone on an online video about Real Estate who may or may not have purchased foreclosed properties. They seem to know little or nothing about the actual process which causes the majority of delays. The very first step is getting the funding inline. Do you cash your check and put money in your wallet before or after you go to the store? How do you shop? Do you run around looking for the best bargains? Do you wait to find the bargain of your dreams then decide to make a payment on your charge card, wait for the funds to clear, then run back to the store to see if the item is still available? This seems to be the way some people like to shop for houses. By they time they take care of funding, the house is gone.

Straying from the tried and true process most often results in wasted time and energy.

I’m sure a lot of Real Estate Agents, Buyers, and Sellers have seen this scam, presented by email spam. It is a simple scam. The scammer sends out emails to people who the know are going to close on a real estate sale. There are many variations of this scam, the most popular introduces either a virus or spyware to your computer. Maybe both.

The email tells you to immediately sign a set of documents. They are set up to Esign All you need to do is click a link. DON’T DO IT!

How to Detect and Avoid the eSign Scam

Check out the Sender

The email is not from one of the available esign companies. That is the first tip. The email address clearly appears as a made up email address, and normally ends with a DOT, something other than COM, NET, or one of the other common business suffixes.

What you want to do is learn How to Detect and Avoid the eSign Scam. If you suspect anything, forward the email to the Real Estate Agent you are working with. Most have extensive experience and training on internet fraud.

If you want to check into the email, RIGHT (not left click, which will active the link) make sure you RIGHT click on the link. A box will open and chose COPY LINK. Then paste the link into a word processor document. Preferably a blank page. Now you can see the link, and where it will take you. Now you can copy the site name, and enter it into your favorite search bar on your browser to see what comes up. Most will show information on a company, usually like a company providing cloud based storage for documents. No Real Estate firm deals with offshore cloud based accounts. The link may also be to a Google account. Still, DON”T trust it. Call your Agent to find out if there is something for you to sign.

This is popular with scammers using that ransom virus and its offshoots. You don’t want to go there.

One Example of an Email Scam

Here is an example. The email is from an unknown address.

Webscam@BrennanWasdenLLC. onmicrosoft.com

This is not an email address for any Esign company. The email contains a link in blue letters that says:

View|Download files

When I copy the link location, I come up with this.

Http:// dfgcxfatrfamhf .com/press/drobox2017newdocindex/db2016/

I cleared the formatting and added a few spaces to render that link harmless, and changed a few letters so it will not link to anything.

Notice where the company name should be, after the Http, is a set of nonsense. That tells you, it is a made up domain, no company exists, and it is a scam.

Where the Scammers Got Your Information

How do they know you are working on closing on a real estate deal? There is a leak in the system. Someone in the trail of emails is using a public, unsecured email account like Gmail Yahoo, Hotmail, or some other free service. I can email back and forth with a bank and title company all week long with nothing happening. As soon as I forward information about a closing to a client using unsecured email, I get a flood of email scams. I have to tell my clients, I will call you when I send documents to esign. Don’t open up any other emails concerning any type of documents. It is as simple as that.

This is not restricted to the Real Estate industry. Scammers will send this scam to any email address they can. So be careful with any email that asks you to click a link. Look at the senders address, and the actual link if you feel qualified.