Distressed Property Institute Stands Firmly Against Real Estate Fraud
Industry-leading organization publishes statements regarding mortgage modification scams, short sale flips, and other forms of fraud in the real estate industry.
The Distressed Property Institute, the premier organization educating real estate professionals on
how to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, is officially positioned against fraud in the real estate
industry, specifically as it pertains to mortgage modification scams, short sale flips and options
“It is the firm stance of the Distressed Property Institute that fraudulent behavior perpetrated
against homeowners is deplorable, and there is no excuse for these actions, whether personal,
financial or otherwise,” said Alex Charfen, co-founder and CEO of the Institute. “The number
alleged cases of fraud against American homeowners is increasing, and in some areas arrests
are on the rise. We support the efforts of our administration and law enforcement to crack down
on these predatory practices.”
In 2009, the U.S. Treasury, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation and
Federal Trade Commission issued statements affirming their unified stance on these issues:
• U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Treasury Department
Press Release: April 6, 2009 – Federal, State Partners Announce Multi-Agency Crackdown Targeting Foreclosure Rescue Scams, Loan Modification Fraud
“This administration is deeply committed not just to providing at-risk homeowners with
assistance but also to cracking down on anyone who seeks to defraud them. … [The]
Treasury is also issuing an advisory alerting financial institutions to the risks of emerging
schemes related to loan modifications. The advisory identifies certain ‘red flags’ that may
indicate a loan modification or foreclosure rescue scam … Examples of possible signs of
fraudulent activity, such as requiring that fees be paid before services are provided, are
listed in the advisory.” i
• Federal Bureau of Investigation
Press Release: July 7, 2009 – FBI Issues 2008 Mortgage Fraud Report
“Mortgage fraud hurts borrowers, financial institutions, and legitimate homeowners. …
The FBI, in conjunction with our law enforcement, regulatory, and industry partners,
continues to diligently pursue perpetrators of mortgage fraud schemes.” ii
• Federal Trade Commission
Press Release: July 15, 2009 – Federal and State Agencies Target Mortgage
Foreclosure Rescue and Loan Modification Scams
“People facing foreclosure should avoid any company or individual that requires a fee in
advance, guarantees to stop a foreclosure or modify a loan, or advises the homeowner to
stop paying the mortgage company.” iii
• Freddie Mac
April 12, 2010 – Emerging Fraud Trends: Short Payoff Fraud
“Given increased defaults and declining property values in certain locations, the
mortgage industry is experiencing an increase in short payoffs, sometimes called short
sales. In fact, over the last two years, short payoff volume at Freddie Mac has grown
more than 1,000 percent (2007-2009). This upward trend in volume leaves the market
ripe for incidences of short payoff fraud.” iv
Addressing its membership organization of more than 22,500 real estate professionals
nationwide, the Institute has distributed this official statement among its members.
“Fear should not drive us to act ethically. The current market conditions have provided us with an
unprecedented privilege to help struggling homeowners like no other time we’ve seen. These
challenges are actually opportunities for us to become better agents, better citizens, and better people.
“Now more than ever, it is our personal responsibility to conduct our businesses and ourselves
with utmost integrity; this has never been more vital to the success of the real estate industry, the
recovery of our country, and to homeowners in need.
“We applaud the efforts of the branches of the U.S. government to stamp out this rampant fraud,
and have aligned the Institute with this goal. We will not tolerate the abuse and predatory actions
committed upon the most vulnerable homeowners.”
Following is the Institute’s policy on fraudulent behavior as it pertains to mortgage modifications
and short sale flips:
I. Mortgage Modification Fraud
It is the policy of the Distressed Property Institute not to educate or train students onthe process of facilitating a mortgage modification, beyond directing agents to have clients (homeowners) contact their lenders if a modification appears to be an option, and providing general information on mortgage modifications so homeowners can effectively contact lenders and pursue this option.
The Institute does not support, nor does it condone, the practice of agents accepting a fee for the service of facilitating a mortgage modification, even if there is a promise to refund the fee if the service expectation is not met. Our official stance is that thispractice constitutes fraud, which is in line with statements made by the U.S. Treasury Department.
II. Short Sale Flip (and Options Contracts) Fraud
It is the policy of the Distressed Property Institute not to educate or train students on the process of flipping short sale properties beyond providing a severe warning, which includes a basic overview of this process and detailed information on how to avoid unknowingly participating in fraudulent activity.
The Institute does not support, nor does it condone, the practice of flipping short sale properties due to the potential illegalities and blatant unethical nature of these transactions. We do make an exception in the case of rehabilitation projects – however, this process involves providing a measureable service to improve the condition of the property, and is different than the standard short sale flip.
“The Distressed Property Institute seeks to train agents on how to find the best solution for each individual homeowner,” Charfen said. “Agents who charge a fee for a service they’re not licensed or adequately trained to provide, and which the government has identified as fraudulent, cannot be tolerated.
“Additionally, agents or investors who misrepresent the true value of a short sale property, or participate in less than full-disclosure with the lender, are participating in fraudulent activity. These practices are not in line with our core values.”
About the Distressed Property Institute, LLC
The Distressed Property Institute trains real estate professionals to engage with and assist homeowners facing hardships. The Institute has developed a curriculum to provide the tools and knowledge to handle distressed properties, including short sales, deeds-in-lieu, mortgage modifications, forbearance, refinances, reinstatements, government programs or other options. After completing a comprehensive live or online course, graduates are awarded the Certified Distressed Property Expert® Designation.
About the CDPE Designation
The CDPE Designation provides real estate industry professionals with detailed information onhow to engage with and assist homeowners in distress. The CDPE designation has been endorsed by RE/MAX International, Keller Williams Realty and other major U.S. brokerages, as well as industry icons such as: Dave Liniger, chairman and co-founder of RE/MAX; Allen Chiang, Chairman of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA); Steve de Laveaga, Senior Vice President of Fidelity National Title; and Tino Diaz, Chairman and President of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).
For more information about the Distressed Property Institute and the CDPE Designation, visit http://www.cdpe.com./
© Copyright The Distressed Property Institute, LLC April 2010 Originally Published: July, 17, 2009
Updated: April 12, 2010
The Distressed Property Institute, LLC assumes no responsibility nor guarantees the accuracy of this document. TheDistressed Property Institute, LLC is not engaged in the practice of law nor gives legal advice. It is strongly recommended that you seek appropriate professional counsel regarding your rights as a homeowner.