Nearly Forty Percent Of The Renters In Missouri Feel They May Face Eviction Within The Next 2 Months

According to the results of the Household Pulse Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau during the week of  October 5 – October 17, about 1 in 8 tenants in Missouri reported they are not current on rent and a staggering 37.87% said they are somewhat likely to face eviction in the next 2-months.

Tenant Delinquencies In Missouri (Infographic)

(click for full-size version)

Tenant Delinquencies In Missouri (Infographic)




Federal Court Overturns the CDC Ordered Eviction Moratorium

UPDATE:  After the decision by to overturn the eviction moratorium was decided upon by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on May 5th, at 6:54pm that evening the U.S. Government filed a notice of appeal as well as a motion for an emergency stay to not have the eviction moratorium lifted until after the appeal.   Judge Dabney L. Friedrich through a Minute Order, granted the stay, thereby leaving the eviction moratorium in place for now but noting that “This Minute Order should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of the defendants’ motion.”  The judge allowed the plaintiff’s until May  12th to file opposition to the motion to stay and then the U.S. government 4 days to respond to the plaintiff’s opposition.

So, for now, the eviction moratorium stands…

MINUTE ORDER. Before the Court is the defendants’ 57 Emergency Motion for a Stay Pending Appeal of this Court’s 53 May 5, 2021 Order vacating the national eviction moratorium at 86 Fed. Reg. 16,731. In this emergency motion, the defendants request an immediate administrative stay to give this Court time to consider and rule upon its motion to stay this case pending appeal. Alternatively, the defendants request that the Court stay its 53 May 5, 2021 Order as to all parties except for the plaintiffs. Defs.’ Emergency Mot. for a Stay Pending Appeal at 1 n.1, 8-9, Dkt. 57. Although the plaintiffs have not yet filed an opposition to the defendants’ motion, which was filed at 6:54 p.m. this evening, the defendants represent that the plaintiffs oppose the motion. Id. at 1 n.1. In order to give the Court time to consider the merits of the defendants’ 57 Emergency Motion for a Stay Pending Appeal, and the plaintiffs time to file an opposition to the motion, the Court will grant the defendants’ request for a temporary administrative stay.

This Minute Order should not be construed in any way as a ruling on the merits of the defendants’ motion. The Court notes, however, that, as the Court has explained, see Mem. Op. at 19, Dkt. 54, the law in this Circuit is clear: where a court concludes that an agency has exceeded its statutory authority, as this Court has done here, see Mem. Op. at 17, vacatur of the rule is the proper remedy in this Circuit. See Nat’l Mining Ass’n v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng’rs, 145 F.3d 1399, 1409 (D.C. Cir. 1998). Based on this clear authority, courts in this Circuit do not restrict vacatur only to those plaintiffs before the Court. See, e.g., O.A. v. Trump, 404 F. Supp. 3d 109, 152-53 (D.D.C. 2019). Indeed, the government has been unable to point to a single case in which a court in this Circuit has done so. See Mot. Hr’g Rough Tr. at 31.

Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the Court’s 53 May 5, 2021 Order is administratively STAYED. It is further ORDERED that the plaintiffs shall file any opposition to the defendants’ motion on or before May 12, 2021, and the defendants shall file any reply within four days of the date the plaintiffs’ opposition is filed. So Ordered by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on May 5, 2021. (lcdlf1)

(Entered: 05/05/2021)

Today, United States District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich issued an oder setting aside the CDC Ordered nationwide eviction moratorium that, prior to this order, was in effect until June 30, 2021.  For the entire opinion from the court, click “>HERE and then scroll down to the first big red button titled “Court Order Lifting Rental Eviction Moratorium May 5, 2021”.


Control your investments with self-directed IRA investing

Jeremy Vlasich  I have a lot of people ask me about what to invest in and how.  Not every time, but often, the self-directed IRA investments can be great options for people that are in the real estate industry.  For this post, I wanted to go over the basic concept and give some actual real-life examples.  Once you read this, if you still need help or have questions, you are more than welcome to reach out.  We are here to serve and help!

What is an IRA and what does a “self-directed” IRA mean?  This is an Individual Retirement Account.  There are two options:

  • Roth IRA – contributions are post-tax and then the growth is tax-free for life
  • Traditional IRA – contributions are pre-tax and then the growth deferred

During the 2020 year, you can contribute $6k a year and add $1k if you are over 50. There are income limits for contributions for the Roth IRA and the tax-deductible traditional.  However, you can always contribute to the traditional but the income limit determines if the IRA is tax-deductible or not.  All traditional IRA’s are tax-deferred.  The Roth IRA is the only tax-free growth IRA.

Rental Income Rebounding Somewhat After Taking a Dive

As a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, as well as the impact of eviction moratoriums and the like, residential rental income for the apartment sector in the U.S. took a nose dive during the 2nd quarter of 2020.  As the chart below shows, the total revenue for businesses from Rental and Leasing, dropped to $156 Billion during the 2nd quarter of last year, a decline of 16% from the quarter before when the total revenue was nearly $186 Billion.  During the 3rd quarter however, rental revenue rebounded to nearly $180 Billion.


CDC Issues Order Halting Residential Evictions Through Year-End

Yesterday, the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced the issuance of an order temporarily halting all residential evictions in the United States through December 31, 2020.  The CDC indicated this action was being taken “to prevent further spread of COVID-19”.

Details of the order….

Under the order, a landlord or other owner of residential property, “shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which this Order applies during the effective period of the Order.”  So, it’s pretty simple, if you own a residential property in the U.S. that has a tenant in it, this order applies to you.  The only exception is the American Samoa, which, at the time of the order, had not cases of COVID-19 reported.

Tenants are still obligated for rental payments…

The order makes it clear that it does not remove the tenant’s obligations to pay rent, nor the landlord’s ability to charge late fees, penalties, etc.  Specifically, the order states:  “This order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract. Nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.

Tenants must submit a declaration form to take advantage of this protection…

According to the order, for a tenant to receive the protection under this order, an executed copy of a Declaration form must be submitted to their landlord, owner, or property manager.

See the entire order here.

Download the Declaration Form for tenants here.

St Louis Area Vacant Property Rate and Zombie Foreclosure Rate On The Rise

Zombies are on the rise in St Louis! I’m referring, of course, to Zombie foreclosures and not the spooky creatures from scary movies.  A zombie foreclosure is a property that is in “pre-foreclosure” meaning it is in the foreclosure process but has not been yet foreclosed upon and is vacant or abandoned by the current owner.  We saw the levels of zombie foreclosures rise significantly after the housing bubble burst back in 2008 but then fall around 2012 as the market began its recovery.  For the 3rd quarter of 2020, according to ATTOM Data Research, 10.8% of the homes in pre-foreclosure were vacant or otherwise known as “zombies foreclosures”.  This is a fairly significant increase in the zombie rate from the prior quarter when 7.79% of the pre-foreclosures were vacant.  A year ago, during the 3rd quarter of 2010, the zombie foreclosure rate was 7.77%.

St Louis vacant property rate rises during 3rd quarter as well..

As the table below also illustrates, 2.95% of the more than 1,000,000 residential properties in the St Louis MSA were vacant during the 3rd quarter of 2020 which is an increase from 2.88% for the 2nd quarter of 2020 as well as an increase from a year ago when the vacancy rate was 2.86%.


St Louis Area Vacant Homes and Zombie Foreclosures

St Louis Area Vacant Homes and Zombie Foreclosures


St Louis Rental Vacancy Rate Hits Lowest Level In Over 15 Years!

The St Louis MSA rental vacancy rate during the 2nd quarter of 2020 was 4.4%, the lowest rate in over 15 years, according to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  During the 2nd quarter of last year, the St Louis rental vacancy rate was 7.6%..


St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates – 2005 – Present

(click on table for complete data from 2005 – present)
St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates - 2005 - Present


Flipped Houses In St Louis Jumps Nearly 14 Percent During First Quarter

There were 542 homes “flipped” in the St Louis metro area during the first quarter of 2020, or 8.5% of the total number of homes sold in the St Louis metro area during the quarter, according to data just released by ATTOM Data Solutions.  This is an increase of 13.8% from the prior quarter and is a decrease of 2% from a year ago.  The median gross profit was 52,900 a 60.8% gross ROI.

Definition of a  “flipped” home…

For the purposes of this report, a flipped home is considered to be any home or condo that was sold during the first quarter of this year in an arms-length sale that had previously had an arms-length sale within the prior 12 months.  Since homeowners don’t tend to buy a home only to turn around and resell it within a year, when this does occur it is typically the result of an investor buying a property, renovating it, then reselling it.


St Louis House Flipping – 1st Quarter 2020

St Louis House Flipping - 1st Quarter 2020© 2019 – St Louis Real Estate News, all rights reserved

St Louis County Judge Issues Order Stopping Evictions

Yesterday, Michael D. Burton, Presiding Judge of the Circuity Court of St Louis County, signed an order that, until further notice, directed the St Louis County Sheriff’s office to “refrain from executing any writs of restitution (eviction of a tenant), writs of replevin, writs of attachment, writs of partition and any other writs of execution that require them to come into direct contact with the general public..”.  In addition, putting a stop to evictions of tenants in St Louis County this order stops the additional actions listed as well but preventing evictions is probably the most significant part of the order.

Bernie’s Plan For Housing Likely To Negatively Impact Investors

Let me begin with this is not a political statement and the purpose of this site is not about politics but about real estate.  Having said that, this morning I came across the plans for the housing market that Bernie Sanders is proposing if he is elected President which I had not seen before.  Upon reviewing his plan (it is on his official site) I realized that while many of the components of it sound good (like “End homelessness and ensure fair housing for all”) many of his promises in this area sound like things that would negatively impact investors and the housing market as a whole.

The following are the Key Points to the Bernie Sanders housing plan from his website (I have included the complete list):

  • End the housing crisis by investing $2.5 trillion to build nearly 10 million permanently affordable housing units.
  • Protect tenants by implementing a national rent control standard, a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, and ensuring the right to counsel in housing disputes.
  • Make rent affordable by making Section 8 vouchers available to all eligible families without a waitlist and strengthening the Fair Housing Act.
  • Combat gentrification, exclusionary zoning, segregation, and speculation.
  • End homelessness and ensure fair housing for all
  • Revitalize public housing by investing $70 billion to repair, decarbonize, and build new public housing.

Under the “When Bernie is president, he will” section are some of the things he plans to do to accomplish the above goals (this list is rather extensive on his site so I have only included a sampling of the items that appear will negatively impact investors and homeowners):

  • Enact a national cap on annual rent increases at no more than 3 percent or 1.5 times the Consumer Price Index (whichever is higher) to help prevent the exploitation of tenants at the hands of private landlords.
  • Allow states and cities to pass even stronger rent control standards.
  • Implement a “just-cause” requirement for evictions, which would allow a landlord to evict a tenant only for specific violations and prevent landlords from evicting tenants for arbitrary or retaliatory reasons.
  • Place a 25 percent House Flipping tax on speculators who sell a non-owner-occupied property, if sold for more than it was purchased within 5 years of purchase.
  • Impose a 2 percent Empty Homes tax on the property value of vacant, owned homes to bring more units into the market and curb the use of housing as speculative investment.

Again, this is not a political piece, but given the strong housing market we have enjoyed over the past several years, which has helped many Americans build equity and recover wealth lost during the housing bubble burst of 2008, I think it’s worth noting proposed plans, by any party or power, that could negatively impact the market. Also, these are just talking points from someone running for office, so whether it’s Bernie Sanders or any other candidate, or even the current President, Donald J. Trump, they can all have ideas but getting them implemented takes cooperation of Congress and that is not always so easy so it doesn’t mean any of their plans ever actually come to fruition.



St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates Hit Highest Level In Over Three Years

The St Louis MSA rental vacancy rate during the 3rd quarter of this year was 10.6%, an increase from 7.6% the prior quarter and the highest rate since the 1st quarter of 2016 when the rate was 12.2%, according to data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Last year, the median rental vacancy rate for the St Louis MSA for the year was 6.8%, a 13 year low.


St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates – 2016 – Present

(click on table for complete data from 2005 – present)St Louis Rental Vacancy Rates - 2016 - Present


The Best Place In St Louis To Buy Rental Property

I’ll begin with a disclaimer. I realize this is a VERY subjective topic and there are about a hundred different criteria one may use to determine the best area to invest in rental property however, having said that, I attempted to do a broad brush analysis from 30,000 feet. I decided to look at which area, in general, offers the best return on investment when it comes to rental property. For the sake of my analysis, I looked at single family homes as rental properties since they are the most common investment by individual investors.

To determine the best rate of return I looked at the median rent for the area as well as median vacancy rate of rentals and median home price. I then determined a rent/value ratio and the area with the highest ratio determines the area with the best potential return on investment.  In computing the ratio I multiplied the median rent by 12 to get the annual rate, then reduced that amount by the vacancy rate and divided the result into the median property value.

As the table below shows, the city of St Louis came out on top with the highest rent to value ratio, 6.48% followed by St Louis County with a 5.45%.

Foreclosure Properties For Sale – Click HERE

Continue reading “The Best Place In St Louis To Buy Rental Property

St. Louis home prices falling;  St Louis rents on the rise

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtor-A report just released by Trulia today which is based on the for-sale homes and rentals listed on Trulia, shows that asking prices for Saint Louis homes for sale decreased 2.4 percent from a year ago however Saint Louis rental rates increased 3.2 percent during the same period.

Nationally, home prices increased 0.3 percent in June from a year ago and rents were 5.4 percent higher in June than a year ago. Continue reading “St. Louis home prices falling;  St Louis rents on the rise

St Louis rents on the rise while home prices on the decline

st-louis-realtor-dennis-norman-hot-rental-market-A report released today by Zillow shows that median rents rose 6.1 percent in St Louis to $1,085 from January 2011 to January 2012 while, during the same period, home prices fell 6.9 percent to $120,300. According to the report, over two-thirds (69.2 percent) of the metro areas covered saw year-over-year gains in rents but only 7.3 percent of the metros saw home values rise during the same period. Continue reading “St Louis rents on the rise while home prices on the decline

Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit in Rolla, Missouri

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that Roger Harris, Hediger Enterprises Inc., Carroll Management Group, Forum Manor Associates L.P. and Forum Manor LLC have agreed to pay $295,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, race and sex discrimination, retaliation and intimidation at Forum Manor Apartments, a federally-subsidized apartment complex in Rolla, Missouri. Continue reading “Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit in Rolla, Missouri

How to Choose a Real Estate Investment Strategy That’s Right for You

Thomas J. Lucier - Avoid Bad RealtorsUnfortunately, there are no cookie-cutter strategies, which will work for all investors in every single real estate market nationwide. And that’s exactly why, when you’re starting out in this business, you must take your time and carefully analyze a real estate investment strategy and take into account, the:

1. Temperament, knowledge, skill and experience needed to implement the strategy.
2. Amount of cash and credit needed to finance the strategy.
3. Amount of time and energy needed to complete the strategy from start to finish. Continue reading “How to Choose a Real Estate Investment Strategy That’s Right for You

Home ownership still central to the American Dream

Dennis Norman St Louis,  American Dream, Home Ownership, TruliaTrulia released the results of its American Dream survey today, which showed that, despite the tough economy and challenged housing market we are in, home ownership is still central to the American Dream. In fact, 70 percent of American’s said home ownership is a part of achieving the American Dream.  Continue reading “Home ownership still central to the American Dream

The best places to invest in rental property

Dennis Norman, St Louis REALTORLas Vegas, Nevada is the best place in America to buy at rental property at this time according to the newly released “HomeVestors-Local Market Monitor Best Markets to Invest in Rental Property” report. St. Louis came in at number 50 and Kansas City at number 37. Continue reading “The best places to invest in rental property

Buying a home more affordable than renting in three out of four major cities

Dennis Norman St LouisA report released by Trulia shows that, based on current market conditions, it is cheaper to buy a home than rent in 74 percent of major U.S. cities. At the top of the list is Las Vegas with a price rent ratio of 6 (the lower the number, the more affordable it is). At the other end of the spectrum, New York city leads the list of cities where it is cheaper to rent than buy with a price rent ratio six times higher than that of Las Vegas. Continue reading “Buying a home more affordable than renting in three out of four major cities

Should parents of college-bound kids buy an investment property instead of paying for dorm?; St. Louis Mortgage Interest Rate Update

Over the last few months, I have had a few inquiries from parents of college-bound children about investment properties.  The combination of low home prices, low interest rates, and a large inventory of foreclosure and short-sale homes have made buying much more attractive for parents of college-bound children. Continue reading “Should parents of college-bound kids buy an investment property instead of paying for dorm?; St. Louis Mortgage Interest Rate Update

Ten Tips to Avoid Identity Theft When You Move

St. Louis REALTOR, Dennis NormanTypically from early spring until late summer is a busy season for the real estate market with increased home sales as people try to make their move without fighting winter and in time to have their kids in place before the new school year. Now, thanks to a report by Intersections, Inc., a company that provides address monitoring and credit monitoring services, I realize that it is also a season of increased identify theft. They say the risk of identity theft during a move is a result of personally identifiable information being shuffled around from one home to the next and buyers and renters becoming preoccupied with the move and simply overlooking protecting their sensitive documents. Continue reading “Ten Tips to Avoid Identity Theft When You Move

Buying a home more affordable than renting in four out of five major cities

Dennis Norman St LouisA report released this morning by Trulia shows that when it comes to the question “should I rent or buy” the answer is to buy in 80 percent of the 50 largest U.S. cities. Trulia’s “Rent vs. Buy Index” compares the cost of buying and renting a two-bedroom apartment, condominium or townhouse and for the 2nd quarter of 2011 this index shows that buying is the way to go from an affordability standpoint for most areas….the only cities where renting was cheaper than buying were New York, Fort Worth and Kansas City. Continue reading “Buying a home more affordable than renting in four out of five major cities

Can you go to prison for not paying your rent?

My guess is you read the headline, chuckled and said to yourself “no way”. After all, the idea of sending people that could not pay their debts to prison went away over a century ago in the U.S., right? Yes and no….In 1833 the United States abolished Federal imprisonment for unpaid debts and most states did as well around the same time. However, Missouri Representative Gary L. Cross, representing the Kansas City area, has introduced legislation that would subject tenants that do not pay their rent to a criminal charge, a Class A Misdemeanor to be exact. Continue reading “Can you go to prison for not paying your rent?

Low prices and low mortgage rates spurred 2010 vacation home purchases

Dennis Norman St LouisMore than half a million vacation homes were purchased last year, fueled by low real estate prices, attractive mortgage rates and the potential for price appreciation according to research done by the National Association of REALTORS for HomeAway. Continue reading “Low prices and low mortgage rates spurred 2010 vacation home purchases

Rental housing market weathering storm; more tenants former homeowners

According to a survey just released by Transunion, Landlord’s and Property managers appear to be making it through the Great Recession and are seeing improvement in the market from their perspective. In fact, seven out of 10 property managers said their rental properties have no vacancies, an increase of almost 17 percent from a year ago. Only 39 percent of respondents said they’re having difficulty finding residents in today’s economic climate. Additionally, more than 3 out of 4 respondents (76 percent) said rental prices have either remained the same or increased since last year. Continue reading “Rental housing market weathering storm; more tenants former homeowners

7 Reasons to Rent Instead of Buy a Home

joe plemon

Joe Plemon,

Owning your own home may still be the great American dream, but, the influx of foreclosures in recent years has made it a nightmare for millions.  If you are considering purchasing a home, I challenge you to at least think through the advantages of renting before you buy.  Here are a few.

1. Less risk

Strangely, risk seems to be the factor least considered Continue reading “7 Reasons to Rent Instead of Buy a Home

Cities where home ownership is more affordable than rental

Dennis Norman

Today, Trulia released it’s “Rent vs. Buy Index” which established a price-to-rent ratio for the 50 largest cities in America (by population), then, based upon that ratio, determined which cities it makes more sense (financially) to rent versus buy. Continue reading “Cities where home ownership is more affordable than rental

Should You Buy A Home Or Rent? Top 10 Cities Where You Should Rent

Dennis Norman

Last month I did an article, “Should You Rent Or Buy A Home?“, in which I discussed a survey that was done by the National Apartment Association which indicated 76 percent of consumers surveyed believed renting to be a better option than home ownership. Well, today Trulia released it’s new “Rent vs. Buy Index” which established a price-to-rent ratio for the 50 largest cities in America (by population), then, based upon that ratio, determined which cities it makes more sense (financially) to rent versus buy.

Trulia Trulia real estate searchThe index looks at the total cost of home ownership on a monthly basis in each city, including what the house payment would be on a 2 bedroom home at the average list price, plus the cost of property taxes, homeowners insurance, closing costs at the time of purchase, home-owners associations dues and, where applicable, private mortgage insurance. They then compared this to the average monthly rent in the same city for apartments, condominiums and town-homes, then computed the ratio between the two numbers.

The tables below first show the top ten cities to rent in vs buy, followed by the top ten to buy versus rent based upon the Trulia Index (for price/rent ratios of 1-15 it is best to buy, 21 or above it is best to rent and for that 16-20 range it is still more expensive to buy than rent, but the “premium” paid for home-ownership may be worth it, depending on the consumers situation).


Source: Trulia Rent vs. Buy Index


Source: Trulia Rent vs. Buy Index



Should You Rent Or Buy A Home?

New Survey Finds 76 Percent of Consumers now Believe Renting to Be a Better Option Over Homeownership

Advantages Cited Include Flexibility to Move to a Different Location with New Job Opportunities

Dennis Norman

Last month I did a post addressing housing affordability, the cost of renting versus owning a home, and whether the real estate market over the past couple of years was causing the idea of home ownership as the “Great American Dream to “lose some of it’s sizzle?

For this reason I found a survey, conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by the National Apartment Association, that came out today particularly interesting.   The survey found 76 percent of consumers deem renting to be the more favorable option to owning a home in the current real estate market, a 5 percent increase from 2008. The survey also found that both renters and homeowners are not eager to make any changes in their housing status within the next year, demonstrating low consumer confidence and continued uncertainty in the housing market.

“While some may want to declare the housing crisis over, consumer patterns of behavior are showing otherwise,” said National Apartment Association (NAA) President Douglas Culkin. “The findings in this survey mirror what our members are seeing throughout the country, especially in areas of the country that are experiencing the first signs of economic recovery.”

Highlights from the survey:

  • 76 percent of adults feel that there are advantages to renting versus owning in the current real estate market, an increase of 5 percent from 2008.
    • 64 percent cited having no responsibility for major repairs or maintenance as the primary reason.
    • 50 percent cited financial reasons such as not being impacted by an unpredictable real estate market (33 percent – an increase of 1 percent from 2008), and not being susceptible to foreclosure (tied at 33 percent).
  • Renters are not eager to make a change this year: 60 percent of renters plan to continue renting their current residence or rent new residences within the next year.
    • 12 percent of renters said they have plans to buy a new home this year and only 14 percent believe that buying a house is preferable to renting given the current state of the market.
  • 71 percent of homeowners will stay in their current home over the next year, mirroring almost exactly the response from 2008 (72 percent).
  • 93 percent of adults feel that the financial security of homeowners is more or equally affected by the current state of the housing market – no change from 2008 – illustrating that the economic impact of the foreclosure crisis has not shifted or improved.

“The results are yet to be seen if the tax-credit incentives worked, but the larger issue remains that pushing the idea of homeownership as the only way to achieve the American Dream is not a viable strategy for the future,” NAA’s Culkin said.

I’m not saying that home ownership is for everyone, nor is leasing, but I think the facts in my post last month I mentioned at the outset of this post as well as this survey show that perhaps the tide is changing; over the past 3 years millions of  Americans have lost homes in foreclosure, others have been forced to do short sales or deeds in lieu….it’s hard for this type of experience not to change your outlook.  It may very well be temporary or short-lived though…afterall how many people do you know that go through an ugly divorce and in the end want nothing to do with the thought of ever being married again…..only to turn up married a year down the road?

Who knows, a year or so from now, when the memories of the real-estate market induced pain and suffering has faded, we may all fall in love with the idea of home ownership again….

How to avoid being a victim of a real estate or rental scam

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have published a report about common real estate scams and rental scams they are finding and how to avoid them. Like most scams there are warning signs and red flags that can help you avoid falling victim; knowing what to look for is key.

The IC3 reminds people to be cautious when using the internet to either advertise real estate for sale or rent or to find a property to rent or buy.

For Landlords and Sellers of Property:

Look out for: Rental scams occur when the victim has property advertised and is contacted by an interested party. Once the rental price is agreed upon, the scammer sends a check for the deposit. The check covers housing expenses and is either written in excess of the amount required, with the scammer asking for the remainder to be remitted back, or for the correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for a refund.

Because banks do not usually place a hold on the funds, the victim has immediate access to them and believes the check has cleared. In the end, the check is found to be counterfeit and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all losses.

For Renters and Home Buyers:

Look out for: The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate sites, alters them, and reposts them. Often, the scammers use the broker’s real name to create a fake e-mail address, which gives the fraud more legitimacy. When the victim sends an e-mail through the website inquiring about the home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner.

The “owner” typically says he and his wife are doing missionary work in a foreign country and need someone to rent their home while they are away. If the victim is interested, he or she is asked to send money to the “owner” in a foreign country. These funds go directly to the scammer, and the would-be renter loses his or her money.

Suggestions from the IC3 and FBI on how to protect yourself from schemes:

  • Do not accept overpayment for rental properties. If you receive a check that’s for more than the specified amount, return it. Do not deposit it.
  • Do not wire funds to people you do not know.
  • Verify potential renters’ income.
  • Request renters’ personal references and follow up with those individuals.
  • Check with your county recorder to learn who owns the property you’re seeking to rent.
  • Call the property manager or association, if applicable, and ask about the landlord.
  • Ask the landlord for a rental application. It’s a red flag if one is not available; most managed properties require an application.
  • Find out how much of a security deposit may be requested in your state. Scammers will often ask for extra money in the form of a deposit.

The following requests can be indicators of fraudulent activity:

  • The would-be tenant wants to rent or purchase the property sight unseen.
  • The potential tenant says he or she is out of the country and he or she would like to send you a cashier’s check.
  • The payment is for more than the agreed upon amount.
  • There’s an urgency to the entire process. For example, the tenant says he or she is arriving in the country next week and needs to establish residency right away.

If you feel you have been a victim of an Internet real estate scheme, you can file a complaint with the IC3 by clicking here.