Attorney general warns of homebuying scams

March 29, 2019

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is warning Pennsylvanians to be aware of deceptive advertising by businesses posting “We Buy Homes” signs on street corners.

The signs are often a scam, looking to take advantage of homeowners suffering from debt, job loss or other significant life changes, according to Shapiro.

Businesses behind the “We Buy Houses” signs typically offer to purchase a consumer’s home for less than actual value. The “Cash for Homes” scams can take two different forms. One targets those who are trying to avoid foreclosure. The buyer may promise relief from foreclosure, but will then take the deed without paying off the mortgage balance, leaving the home-seller responsible for the monthly payments and subject to foreclosure.

Another scam is when the buyer lures sellers in with promises to take the house “as is,” allowing the seller to avoid having to make repairs. The buyer will sometimes back away from that promise, however, and demand certain repairs before accepting a deed, leaving the seller footing the bill for the repairs.

“Pennsylvanians must be aware of scammers looking to take advantage of consumers looking to make money quickly to pay off debts or other expenses,” Shapiro said in a press release. “Signs offering to buy homes for cash are multiplying weekly on busy street corners, but these kinds of transactions are often scams that leave homeowners in even worse financial shape than they were before.”

Shapiro encourages people who believe they have been a victim of a scam to file a complaint with the attorney general’s Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov, calling 800-441-2555 or sending an email to scams@attorneygeneral.gov.