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Fraud Alleged in REO and Short Sales
In a traditional sale, which is a rare event these days, the buyer’s agent presents an offer to the listing agent. The listing agent, in turn, presents the offer to the seller, who can reject, accept or make a counter offer to the buyer.
In contrast, REO (Real Estate Owned by the bank) contract negotiations take place with a bank, lender, or a representative hired to represent the lender. In contrast to a “normal” seller to buyer transaction, neither buyer or agent has the opportunity or ability to meet with the seller. Therefore, the buyer and their agent have no way of knowing whether their offer was actually presented to the lending institution, at all.
So you ask, “Why would a listing agent hide offers from the bank?” The answer is sadly cliche…”follow the money”.
Buyer agents allege that often, listing agents for the banks are also working with their own own buyers. If their buyer’s offer is accepted, the agent is paid two commissions, one as the selling agent, another for listing the property. So, if the listing agent holds back a higher offer in order to leave their client in the number one position, the agent “double dips” and earns double the money.
What can you do? Unfortunately, not much. The bank is unaware that other offers have been presented. Other buyer’s and their agents have no way of knowing if their offers were really presented, either. Usually buyers and agents are just told that their offer was rejected. Only after the closing can they see that their offer was better than the one the bank accepted and that the listing agent was also the selling agent.
If you suspect that you have been a victim of fraud or underhanded dealings, you can try to contact the lender. But, be prepared that most lenders want no contact with the public and even their own fraud departments show little interest in helping “would-be” buyers or their agents. And, as for the “listing agent for the bank”, it is highly unlikely that the of the fraud will suddenly get a change of heart and confess.
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