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FRAUD

LAND / REAL ESTATE SALES  

If you have been thinking about buying a lot or another piece of property – for a cottage or retirement home or simply as an investment – you must be cautious. Beware of land fraud schemes that target seniors! While the advertisement in a magazine or that color brochure sent through the mail might have described the land available as ideally situated, with all the conveniences you need, be wary.  If you have not inspected the land before you purchase it you may find it’s less than ideal – remote and unserviced, or too close to a highway, for example, and worth much less than you paid. These tips are just common sense, but it bears repeating that before buying any type of real estate, a prudent purchaser will:
  • … inspect the lot or property before signing up to make a purchase.    

  •  … seek a property report (obtain it from the salesperson or developer).    

  • … comparison shop. Ask a local real estate broker, preferably one not handling the sale of the property you’re interested in, about prices for similar lots or properties in the area.  

  •  … call or write a Better Business Bureau in the district to find out about the developer’s record or whether the company has been the subject of complaints.    

  • … ensure all verbal promises or guarantees are written into a formal sales contract.
Certain transactions relating to the sale or lease of undeveloped land are subject to the Interstate Land Sales Full Disclosure Act (Title 15, United States Code, Sections 1701-1720). Under this law, there must be full disclosure of all material facts related to the sale or lease of the property. Before any contract or agreement is signed, the developer must give each purchaser or renter a property report containing relevant information about the land. 
Remember:
  • There is no need to act immediately.  If a salesman pressures you by indicating that there are others that are waiting to beat you out or that you must act now to protect your interest, you are probably about to get swindled or at least pay more than what the land is worth.

  • There are millions of acres of land for sale in the United States.  Most of it is reasonably priced.  There are no "last chances" or "lost opportunities".  There is always another one just around the corner.

  • Involve your own attorney and have him conduct your own title search.  It may cost a little more, but at least you will know what you have.

  • If you buy land, be sure to tell your attorney that you want title insurance.  It's pretty cheap and in the event that there are title problems down the road, you will be covered.

     

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