The Does and Don’ts of Land Buying
By Bill Petros - 9/21/20
The first 3 fatal mistakes:
1.Always confirm the seller owns the property
2.Always confirm the zoning of the property is suitable for what your use of the property
3.Always confirm the back taxes on the property are current
Find the county the property is in
Go to the website - www.naco.org
You can search by county and state.
Real estate scams and what to look out for.
The first most fatal mistake in land purchasing is the seller does not own the property.
Scams in real estate are growing in numbers, criminals are always on the lookout for new ways to scam people out of their money, and real estate is a major player in the scamming industry. Its super important to keep up with the current scams if you are in the real estate market and or land buying world.
Many scams the average person would never be looking out for, and that’s how the criminal’s take advantage of the system. You need to know what to look out for, so you do not get scammed when looking for a new home or property to buy.
These are some of the things to look out for:
One of the biggest scams when it comes to property sales is Document Forging. They, the scammer will make it look like they own the land when they do not at all own it. Most of the time these kinds of scams ask for cash only deals. Then when you think the deal is done, the real landowner comes along and throws you off the land for trespassing.
Depending on the location of the land or property, and your local jurisdiction, there might be rules in place that do not allow illegal flipping of a home to occur. An example of this would be:
Buying some land for 100,000 and reselling it for 200,000
The rule is that land cannot be purchased and resold quickly for way above the appraisal value of the land without good reason. This ensures that a wealthy investor cannot buy all the land in one area and resell it for crazy unrealistic prices, preventing the monopolizing the real estate market.
Fraudulent Loan Origination
Sometime buyers know they cannot afford the land payments but will do anything to get the land or property. Banks are to safeguard these ill-advised investments for both the borrowers and lenders, at least they are supposed to.
Real estate brokers and professionals that offer to help unqualified individuals get these loans could be running a scam.
The agent will try to get the buyer into an FHA-insured mortgage and falsify documents to help you get you purchase the land or home. But it is not in your best interests to own a home or property that you cannot pay for.
Sale Fraud (Short Sale)
There are many lenders and they fall into two categories Primary and Junior, these lenders end up involved in short sale fraud. Primary lenders put a cap on junior lenders. So, the sale of the land cannot go through unless all junior liens are satisfied.
Junior lenders are not happy about having their payments capped, and in turn can lead to them committing fraud as a result in the sale of the land.
Most junior lenders will ask for cash deposits that are outside of escrow and mortgage payments that never are disclosed on paperwork or the load papers to the primary lender. Disclosure is the easiest way to stay safe against this type of fraud. All payments made to a junior lender must be disclosed as part of the short sale transaction.
Otherwise, you are part of the fraud that occurred if you, the buyer paying the payments that weren't disclosed.
Misrepresented land Listings
Many statistics show that 9 out of 10 people look online first, for real estate before going in person to see the land. Problems accur when many sites, such as Craigslist, will list property or land for sale, and when you arrive, you’re not at the land you saw in the AD that you saw in the listing.
Usually, you will be told the land is now available any longer, and that is why we are at the current property.
then when you go walk the land , the seller will tell you it’s much more than the listing you original looked at in the AD, and may be smaller, or needs a lot of work. The short way to remedy this problem is to never waste your time with a property that was misrepresented from the start.
Also, Wire fraud is very common occurrence and you would think could never occur in today’s real estate industry. What happens is that the real estate agent or seller will ask you to wire them money to hold the property on your behalf.
The problem is that many scammers will use this tactic when they don’t own the home.
You can find that sometimes the land is owned by another individual, and the scammer gained access to the property to show it and pretend they are the owner. The moral of the story is to never wire transfer money or give cash deposits to a landlord or the presumed seller unless they have been legally verified and with documentation.
Scammers can be Posing as Owners
When dealing with land and property, many of the scammers will pose as the owners and will ask for a cash only sales. Imagine an unused, empty lot of land that is in Florida. If the owners never visit the property, what is stopping a scammer from posting the listing online and trying to sell the property to you?
You will never get the deed to the property, but you will be asked to provide payment.
A false deed may even be forged and handed over to you. The issue is that land may be an investment that someone else is holding, and the owner may not visit the property for years. If you fall into this scam, you may even think you own the land and may start utilizing it before finding out you have been scammed.
The best way to fight back against this fraud is to do complete investigation in the land or home and stick to your due diligence.
look into who owns the land by going to the local county clerk’s office and verify that the one seller the land is the one who actually owns the property you want to buy.
If the seller is rushing you to buy the property right this moment in cash, chances are that something is amiss.
If you have been invited to a seminar where you may be promised a gift for attending the workshop. The seminar intends to teach you how to buy and sell or invest in real estate, and the offer sounds way too good to be true, you should defiantly pass it up.
There are two things that can happen here:
You will need to pay far more for these insider secrets and will need to attend other seminars and workshops that will show you how to profit off of the land.
You will be forced or pushed into a Hot investments and opportunities to buy land, that you will need to take advantage of them now, or the investment will pass you by.
These seminars and workshops are shady operations at best and will steal your money without anyone learning any valuable investment skills or techniques and or owning any land that you acquired legally.
You must confirm what you can do with the property from the county zoning office
Make sure if you plan on putting a mobile home or camping or raising animals that you get in writing its ok to do these things
Make sure you call the county and make sure you check to see at the county treasures office that taxes on the property are current, if they are not, you need to make sure the seller pays off the back taxes, if not, once you Have purchased the land, you now will be responsible for those back taxes.
If you prefer not to talk to a live person you can email the recorder’s office and ask, then who owns the property in question.
You must be extremely careful about fishing scams, trying to sell you properties they do not own.
Contacting the county planning and zoning commission office on property use. This is the biggest mistake most first-time land buyers make. They are so excited about purchasing the land they do not ask if they can use it for their wanted use. As example, they want to park a trailer or RV on the land and go for summer vacation, but the zoning commission has labeled the land as build only. If this is the case, you will not be able to use the land for camping or putting a RV on the land for summer vacations.
Many zoning commissions stipulate not only do you need to build but you can only build a certain style of home with many restrictions on size, like a min a 1000 square feet and it must be painted with only pre-determined colors of the area. You would be surprised on how many land restrictions there are out there, and you must be mindful of these restrictions. Even land that says no restriction on the sellers AD can still have them. It is imperative you check on this before buying.
Buying Land with Back Taxes owed on it.
You can buy a home or land that has a tax lien on it, the problem is you will now be responsible for that lien. You inherit the back taxes when you become owner of the said land or property.
TAX LIEN EXPLANED
A tax lien means the old owner of the property owes the IRS taxes, for not paying their taxes of some kind and that the Federal government entity has filed a lien against the property. Once the lien is in place, only that government agency can lift the lien. Usually the only way to have the lien removed is full payment of the lien or delinquent taxes, plus interest and penalties.
Having a lien on the property you purchased gives the Government the right to foreclose on the land you just acquired, or they will force the sale of your property and use the funds to pay off the lien.
Make sure you check out all the resources below
First time buyer resources
HUD.GOV - Home Buying Guide
SHRA.ORG - Home Buyers Resource
REALTOR.COM - First Time Home Buyers Guide
ALLCONNECT.COM - Internet Buyers Guide