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Swindlers and Crooks are Ubiquitous in the Sacramento Short Sale Market

short sale crooksThere are days that I wish I could gather all the short sale sellers in Sacramento in one place -- maybe the Convention Center in downtown Sacramento -- and spend a few hours explaining how short sales work and how to avoid getting ripped off. Sacramento is witnessing an abundance of scam artists who are crawling out of the woodwork in our troubled times to prey on naive underwater home owners.

But I intensely dislike giving public speeches, and I don't have the time to put together such an undertaking. I'm hoping somebody else in the position to do this reads my blog and says, "Yeah, that's a good idea. We need to help short sale sellers in Sacramento, and I've got the money, time, inclination and knowledge to pull this off."

The trouble is there are tons of crooks and scammers in the short sale business, and readers write to me nearly every day to share tales of being victimized. The swindlers are generally entrepreneurs who purposely decided they could capitalize on the falling economy by jumping into short sale or loan modification negotiations simply to make a fast buck.

Upside down sellers don't know where to turn. As a result, they hop online and frantically search for answers. What they find are opportunists who offer such lousy solutions as:

  • Walk away from your home, we'll help you to do it (when a loan modification might help owners stay in their homes).
  • Stop making your mortgage payments because that's the only way a lender will do a short sale (which is false).
  • Give us $3,000 in cash upfront to "negotiate" for you, we know all the short sale negotiators (nobody knows all the negotiators).
  • List a short sale with me and I'll outsource your short sale negotiations (the agent loses control of the transaction and  the performance of those companies have been disappointing).
  • Buy another home through me and I'll get you a mortgage (which typically leads to underwriting rejection as a result of guidelines designed to prevent buy and bail).

The truth is hiring a Sacramento short sale listing agent who has extensive short sale experience and routinely closes short sale transactions in-house is a home seller's best bet, coupled with obtaining independent and qualified legal and tax advice. Moreover, home owners do not need to pay anyone to negotiate a short sale or do a loan modification.

Here are nonprofit (free) counseling resources for home owners who first may want to attempt to do a loan modification:

Neighborhood Assistance Corp. of America: 1.888.302.6222

ACORN: 1.866.672.2676

Homeownership Preservation Foundation: 1.888.995.4673

HomeFree-USA: 1.866.696.2329

Elizabeth Weintraub Land Park Real Estate Agent in Sacramento

The Short Sale Savior, by Elizabeth Weintraub, coming soon to a bookstore near you.

Photo: Big Stock Photo


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Elizabeth Weintraub is co-partner of Weintraub & Wallace Team of Top Producing Realtors, an author, home buying expert at The Balance, a Land Park resident, and a veteran real estate agent who specializes in older, classic homes in Land Park, Curtis Park, Midtown, Carmichael and East Sacramento, as well as tract homes in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville and Lincoln. Call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759. Put our combined 80 years of real estate experience to work for you. Broker-Associate at RE/MAX Gold. DRE License # 00697006.

Photo: Unless otherwise noted in this blog, the photo is copyrighted by Big Stock Photo and used with permission.The views expressed herein are Weintraub's personal views and do not reflect the views of RE/MAX Gold. Disclaimer: If this post contains a listing, information is deemed reliable as of the date it was written. After that date, the listing may be sold, listed by another brokerage, canceled, pending or taken temporarily off the market, and the price could change without notice; it could blow up, explode or vanish. To find out the present status of any listing, please go to



In the beginning of sub-pribe melting and after flies came out the walls to try to make yet another buck. NO all these up front fees. What is the World has the World been reduced to?

Your friend


Posted by Tom Braatz Waukesha County Real Estate 262-377-1459, Waukesha County Realtor Real Estate agent. SOLD! (Coldwell Banker) almost 12 years ago

That's good, positive, clear information, Elizabeth!

Posted by Wendy Rulnick, "It's Wendy... It's Sold!" (Rulnick Realty, Inc.) almost 12 years ago


We do not negotiate short sales, we give it to attorneys who specialize in them. I think it was very beneficial, especially when we ran into problems with closing. We got "no", and then there was a heated exchange between the attorney and the negotiator, and the attorney went over the negotiator and had them to expend the closing and close.

There was not way I would have been able to get them to do this, or even talk to me. The key os working with the specialist.

I was very happy with Richard Zaretsky, who I met on active rain and we are doing our 4 deal with him and his girls.

And why not? He is not participating in the commission.

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) almost 12 years ago

Elizabeth, you sure can put things in the right perspective and so informative, great post!

Posted by Steve Mattison, Vietnam Veteran almost 12 years ago

Elizabeth:  It's so sad to see these home owners that have no idea who to believe, being swindled.  I see it here too.  You have to be careful who you trust to handle a short sale.  And you should never have to pay anyone up front to do it for you. 

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) almost 12 years ago

Elizabeth, it's not just the real estate agents and loan officers but the banks are participating in swindling sellers. I have a situation with a family who is in the process of losing their home because their original lender, HomeBanc. went belly up and took their escrow account with it. Enter Bank #2 who tells them they owe $3000+ and adds that to their payment which of course they cannot pay. Do they volunteer to work with them on the payments? No. Do they explain the situation to them? No. The only reason we know what happened is because I called them on their behalf. Supposedly, I got this worked out but now, 6 months later, they have called me again...

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) almost 12 years ago


I have heard many a horror story. I work as a Loss Mit specialist and have saved a few homes. But, there are so many people without a clue where to start. With the government talking about all these bailouts don't you think a 60 second educational commercial to the general public would help?Our politicians found the money to place their plea on camera. Why not reach the public within their own living rooms?

If they spend half the time and money as they have on TV conversions we could give the public the knowledge to save their homes themselves. What a shame. Thanks for all the education you give us.

Later in the rain~Deb

Posted by Deb Brooks (Brooks Prime Properties Wichita Falls Texas) almost 12 years ago

Wow!! I wish I knew all of the negotiators!!! Must of the ones I speak with are still in training or maybe it just seems that way. Sellers do need to be very careful out there.

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 12 years ago

Elizabeth, I am glad you described the ploys. The public will be more aware of this now because of this.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) almost 12 years ago

Hi Elizabeth 

Excellent content, and very well presented!

Posted by Suzanne Gallegos, Realtor - Salt Lake City, Utah Homes (Equity Real Estate - Advantage) almost 12 years ago

Very well informed post Elizabeth.  Negotiating a short sale is not an easy process, but weary, cash strapped homeowners need to know that they do not need to fork over cash upfront to acquire competent professional representation.

Posted by Lola Audu, Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI ~Welcome Home! (Lola Audu~Audu Real Estate~Grand Rapids, MI Real Estate) almost 12 years ago

Great advice I find if I can keep the seller involved in the process I have more success.

Posted by Terry & Bonnie Westbrook, Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re (Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner) almost 12 years ago

Amen Elizabeth!  It continually amazes me what desperate homeowners tell me they have been told by other folks in this marketplace.  It all really irks me...

Posted by Erin Stumpf (Attardi), 916-342-1372 / DRE# 01706589 Sacramento, CA (Coldwell Banker) almost 12 years ago

Short sales are a mess!  It seems they will be around for quite a while.  Very frustrating.

Posted by Robert Machado, CPM MPM - Property Manager and Property Management (HomePointe Property Management, CRMC) almost 12 years ago

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