New Real Estate-Type Scam

Fraud Sign

My husband John just answered his phone with his usual, “Hello, this is John”, to find dead silence on the other end.

After a couple of Hellos, he was about to hang up – realizing this was an autodialed call – when “Andrew” came on and asked, “Am I speaking with John Snyder?”, to which John of course answered Yes.

Andrew then launched into a spiel we haven’t heard before.  “Because you’re a REALTOR up there in Auburn Maine, I want to offer you the opportunity to buy the list of properties for sale in your area.”

John knew immediately that this was a scam, but having never been a real estate agent, he didn’t know the extent of it.

“I’m NOT a REALTOR”, he responded to Andrew, to which Andrew replied, “Oh, that’s okay.  Even if you’ve given up your license, you can still buy the list”.  John retorted, “I have NEVER been a REALTOR”.  Andrew, realizing he was getting no where, started to do the goodbye-hang up thing, but John stopped him.

“Wait a minute. How did you get my name?”  “Well you must have been a REALTOR at some point.”  The conversation went downhill from there, and there’s little else worth reporting here.

However, had John ever been in real estate, he would have realized that this scam was being perpetrated purposefully on people who have never been real estate agents… because any agent can get the list of properties currently on the market for free, just by going to the website they all use constantly, each and every single day.  When I was a real estate agent, I was on that site for hours each week.  It’s used to find possible properties for clients, to search for listings that have expired and perhaps might be open to a new agent, to price the listings of new clients, and on and on.

The scam is apparently to try to find desperate people who are hoping to flip properties without engaging a real estate agent, and sucker them into buying a useless list.

Caveat Emptor!

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Feds host small business forum at USM

From MaineBiz online.  09.12.13.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s national ombudsman will be at the University of Southern Maine on Monday to host a forum for small business owners, representatives of local economic development organizations and trade groups.

SBA ombudsman Brian Castro will lead the forum on federal regulatory issues dealing with small businesses on Monday at 9 a.m. in Room 102 of USM’s Wishcamper Center at 34 Bedford St.

Attendees will have a chance to voice their concerns about federal business regulations that Castro said, in a prepared statement, are sometimes written with major corporations in mind.

Comments from the forum will be directed to a federal agency charged with evaluating regulatory fairness.

Government Should Not Compete with Private Industry

Government should not engage in providing products or services that private industry can do and make a profit at.”   Charlie Colgan.  State Economist.  USM Professor.  Approximately 1990. 

He said this during one of my Master’s level classes in Government Business Relations, and I have repeated it over and over and over ever since.Some of you have heard this story:

I’ve been a landlord since 1983.  In 1995 I started work as a housing developer/grant-writer for a non-profit mental health agency in Augusta.  The agency owned a lot of group homes, and I helped create more, which of course didn’t sit too well with City Hall, as it further eroded the tax base in a city that’s already inundated with non-profits and governmental entities.

I argued with my boss, the Executive Director of the agency that the least we could do was offer the City of Augusta a PILOT – a payment in lieu of taxes – but he refused.  He said we were already doing the City a favor via our services.  I couldn’t believe the arrogance…. he didn’t say “We don’t have the funding”.  He said “We’re doing them a favor by existing”.

One of our properties was a 3 unit apartment building – two 1BRs and one 3BR.  The agency wanted to turn the 3BR into three separate 1BRs.  A sensible decision with our clientele.

However, instead of just doing it the way any other landlord would (and which might have cost $15,000 back then) I was sent to Manchester NH to learn how to apply for a specific HUD program to get free money for the renovations.The HUD program was great… it would indeed be free money.  Of course, we’d have to follow all sorts of rules, including the hiring of an architect that I priced out at something like $70,000.  For a job that you and I would have spent $15,000, the total cost of this project would have been well over $100,000.

It was at that point that I realized the taxpayers were being ripped off, and that I hated my job.  (The project wasn’t completed with the HUD money because we ran into the issue of not enough parking space for a 5 unit building. I was THRILLED.)

I’ve told this story over and over, to various Lewiston and Auburn committees I’ve sat on, to members of the Chamber of Commerce, and everywhere and every time I’ve had an opportunity.

I’ve asked the Cities to pleeeeease recognize that they are competing with private industry, and if they want to create subsidized housing, to find a way to provide loans to private landlords to renovate first floor apartments for those with disabilities.  This has been one of my mantras for nearly 20 years.

They have waiting lists while we have vacancies that can’t be filled…. It is frustrating, it is killing landlords and it is wrong.

Linda

Two Thought-Provoking Keynotes – And Good Fun, Too

Greater Androscoggin Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference

Greater Androscoggin Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference

Greater Bangor Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference and Trade Show

Greater Bangor Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference and Trade Show

“Never follow the crowd in what you do; the crowd has never produced anything of lasting quality, value or beauty.”

— Denis Waitley

Hello!

Two great keynote speakers are scheduled for the upcoming Real Estate, Housing and Land Use conferences – speakers you may not want to miss!

Paul Mills, JD – Attorney, Speaker, Lecturer, Writer – will highlight the Greater Bangor Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference with his discussion of “Squatters Rights, Rights of Way, the North Pond Hermit & Other Perspectives of How Fascinating and Entangled the Law and Human Interest Can Be”.  Paul is a well-known personality in the legal and public policy fields and will put his own unique spin on this fascinating topic.

You can hear Paul on October 31st at the Conference’s Opening Reception which will be held at the Cross Insurance Conference Center in Bangor.

On November 8th, James (Jim) Bennett, City Manager of Presque Isle and and former Administrator for the City of Lewiston will offer his thoughts on real estate, housing and land use. Jim is well-known & respected for his extensive contributions to the governing of communities throughout Maine, and has a special talent in the area of downtown revitalization. Jim’s comments are certain to be thought-provoking.Jim will offer the lunchtime keynote at the Greater Androscoggin Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference, to be held at the Ramada Inn & Conference Center in Lewiston.We’re looking forward to seeing you at the conferences!Linda Snyder

Oh…. a P.S.

Some links regarding our upcoming Real Estate, Housing and Land Use Shows… Hope to see you there!

The Greater Bangor Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference and Trade Show will be at the Cross Insurance Conference Center Ballroom in Bangor on October 31 & November 1st.

Exhibitor info here: http://bangorhousingshowexhibitors.eventbrite.com.

Attendee info here: http://bangorhousingshowattendees.eventbrite.com .

The Androscoggin Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference will be at the Ramada Inn & Conference Center in Lewiston on November 8th.

Attendee info here: http://androhousingshowattendees.eventbrite.com 

Exhibitor info here: http://androhousingshowsponsors.eventbrite.com
And info on advertising in the Show Program can be found here:  http://androhousingshowprogram.eventbrite.com 


Linda M. Snyder, M.S.
207 740 2247

Greater Bangor Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference and Expo
Oct 31-Nov 01, 2013 | Cross Insurance Center Ballroom
Greater Androscoggin Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference
Nov 08, 2013 | Ramada Inn & Conference Center
Greater Portland Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference & Trade Show
May 01-02, 2014 |  Seasons Conference Center
Greater Portland Pet Expo – The Business of Animals
June 05-06, 2014 | Seasons Conference Center
Hitch your wagon to a star.  R W Emerson

Legal Landmines for Those in the Real Estate Business – Affiliate Businesses May Be Affected

Did you know… If you have a house to rent with a drainage ditch to the side, and a family with children wants to rent that house, you MUST put in fencing or otherwise mitigate the situation?  You may NOT suggest that this is probably not the best place for a family to live.  You MUST spend the money to fix the issue.   (Contractors may want to specialize in safety issues.)

My husband John attended an Androscoggin Chamber Brown Bag lunch on Thursday regarding issues facing landlords, which was facilitated by two local lawyers.  The above scenario was just one of the many items brought up, which included issues that have recently become case law or precedent setting, such as the ruling by the Maine Human Rights Commission that “If a tenant has a pit bull as a service dog, you MUST allow that tenant to have that dog, even if it means your property insurance is canceled… which it almost certainly will be because most insurance companies refuse to cover pit bulls”.   (Insurance companies may face a backlash because of this.)

Another landlord says her insurance company just notified her they were canceling her insurance – because she has too many Section 8 clients!  WOW!  It’s illegal for landlords not to accept Section 8, but an insurance company can cancel coverage for having “too many of those tenants”???

Scary stuff… If you’re in the landlording, real estate investment or property management business – or businesses that provide products or services to these – you have to stay on top of the issues!

We will do our best to offer trending information and answers, in our eletter, this blog and at our upcoming conferences.

If you have scenarios, questions, ideas and so forth that you’d like to present or write about (we welcome guest bloggers!), please contact me.

Linda

P.S.  And of course, here’s information about this fall’s conferences.

The Greater Bangor Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference and Trade Show will be at the Cross Insurance Conference Center Ballroom in Bangor on October 31 & November 1st. Exhibitor info here: http://bangorhousingshowexhibitors.eventbrite.com.

Attendee info here: http://bangorhousingshowattendees.eventbrite.com.The Androscoggin Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference will be at the Ramada Inn & Conference Center in Lewiston on November 8th.

Attendee info here: http://androhousingshowattendees.eventbrite.com
Exhibitor info here: 
http://androhousingshowsponsors.eventbrite.com

And info on advertising in the Show Program can be found here: http://androhousingshowprogram.eventbrite.com .Other events in the planning stages:

Greater Portland Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference and Trade Show (2 days)
April/May 2014
Aroostook Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference (1 day)
May 2014
Eastern Maine Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference (1 day)
May 2014
MidCoast Real Estate, Housing & Land Use Conference (1 day)
June 2014
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