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FAKE AGENT steals down payment from buyer

A San Antonio woman is out $20,000 and her new home after trusting a man posing as a real estate agent. The buyer and local police allege that a man named Chris Hinojosa has been acting as a broker without a license in the city and accepted two separate “down payments” totaling $20,000 from a buyer on a –for-sale-by-owner property that was not his to sell. Although there are multiple warrants out for Hinojosa’s arrest, he remains at large at this time. The actual owner of the property had no idea that it was being shown or “purchased.”

“He fleeced this person,” said a local police sergeant, adding that “at no time did the victim sign a real estate title or any document recognized by the Texas Real Estate Commission.” The fallout for other local investors could be significant, since the police force is officially recommending that buyers not call “signs on the side of the road” if they want to purchase a home. At this point in time, it appears that the actual owner of the home is also suing Hinojosa.

Lesson Learned:

Make sure you know who you’re working with. While investors often work with other investors and third parties, don’t ever hand over cash or other forms of down payment without doing your due diligence on the sellers and agents as well as the property.

Point to Ponder:

Is it fair that the police are officially saying that home-buyers should work with licensed agents only?

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About the Author

Carole Ellis is the host of Real Estate Investing Today, a popular 9-minute daily podcast focused on educating real estate investors about the important topics that will make their investing SAFER, FASTER, and MORE PROFITABLE. She's also the editor of the Bryan Ellis Investing Letter. She has more than a decade's worth of experience in and reporting on the real estate industry and, additionally, has written dozens of courses on the topic. Carole lives in Kennesaw with her husband, Bryan, and four children. She believes wholeheartedly that your best investment is always your OWN education.

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