Consumers are warned to be cautious in dealing with several enterprises offering seminars on how to “get rich quick” in real estate, which may include illegal practices such as equity skimming, preparation of false documents and pass-through escrows.
The classes may seem like a bargain, but to get the entire package one often has to pay substantial extra amounts for additional classes, DVDs, books, and other materials. The costs can range into the thousands of dollars, and consumers sometimes end up with nothing more than a swag bag and a sales pitch.
The marketing of real estate investment seminars and associated training materials is not necessarily illegal. However, certain ideas and approaches taught in the courses may pose potential problems for unwary consumers. Many of these classes teach people to perform illegal acts, including engaging in activities that require a real estate or mortgage license. Consumers are advised to avoid participating in the following activities:
ï‚· Skimming equity from short sale transactions
ï‚· Preparing false documentation to support creditworthiness
ï‚· Making misrepresentations or false statements to lenders
ï‚· Pass-through escrows
Jeanne Jackson-Heim, executive director of the Idaho Real Estate Commission, issued the warning.
“Read the fine print, know what you are supposed to get for your money, and be extra cautious before authorizing anyone to make automatic charges to your bank or credit card account,” Jackson-Heim warned.
“Keep in mind that if you engage in an illegal act based on something you learned at one of these seminars, the authorities will scrutinize your actions and hold you accountable,” said Jackson-Heim. “Of course, not all real estate seminars promote questionable activity, and it is up to the consumer to decide whether to pay for one of these courses, or not. Just remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”