For Release on August 28, 2018
Cherie Bourlard, Deputy District Attorney
Consumer Protection/Elder Fraud
SELLING LOW: District Attorney Urges Caution in Accepting
Unsolicited Offers to Buy Your Home
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit is urging elderly homeowners to be extremely cautious about accepting unsolicited offers to buy their homes. Elders may be at risk of selling their homes for much less than they’re worth and end up not being able to easily find a new home in the area once the old one sells.
The DA’s message to seniors: Don’t be pressured into selling your home without fully investigating its true value. Make sure you are going to get paid once the deed you signed is recorded. And don’t sell without knowing where you are going to live after the home is sold.
It may be a crime to buy property from an elderly homeowner, who lacks the mental capacity to enter into a contract. It is also a potential crime to purchase property from a homeowner facing foreclosure, if – for example - the contract does not provide the right to cancel the deal within five days.
Why worry now? It’s one of the hottest real estate markets in history in Silicon Valley. The District Attorney is increasingly receiving reports from elderly homeowners that they are receiving mailers offering to purchase their homes which are not on the market. These offers promise to buy their homes without inspections and with no involvement of any real estate agent, saving the seller commissions.
While these deals sound good, elderly homeowners may be the target of these mailers in the hopes that the owners do not know the true value of their property. There are individuals and companies seeking to take advantage of unsophisticated homeowners, by purchasing property at an unreasonably low price, and then flipping the property a few months later at a substantially higher price.
If you are going to sell your home, make sure you have arranged a new place to live and can afford your new residence. Housing and rental prices may be higher than you anticipate, especially if you intend to continue to live in Santa Clara County. Homeowners intending to accept an unsolicited offer to buy their home may also want to contact a tax professional concerning the tax consequences of selling their potentially biggest investment.
If you think you have been the victim of a real estate scam, please call the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud hotline at (408) 792-2879. If you think you, or an elderly relative, is a victim of elder financial abuse, you can call the District Attorney’s Elder Financial Abuse hotline at (855) 323-5337. If you have a complaint about a business, you can contact the District Attorney’s Consumer Mediation Services Unit at (408) 792-2880.