The North Carolina Real Estate Commission is pleased to announce that it will be holding its January 18-19, 2023, business meeting and hearings in Wilmington, North Carolina. You are cordially invited to join the Commission members for coffee on Wednesday, January 18th at 8:30, before the meeting begins, and to stay or attend the meeting at any time throughout the day. The business meeting is expected to begin Wednesday at 9:00 and to last until mid-afternoon.
The meeting will be held at:
EMBASSY SUITES WILMINGTON RIVERFRONT – SALON I
9 ESTELL LEE PLACE, WILMINGTON
The Commission members welcome the opportunity to meet you and hear your thoughts. While not required, we will appreciate your RSVP by January 11th to firstname.lastname@example.org for planning purposes.
By Tiffany Ross- Consumer Resource Officer & Bruce Rinne- Information Officer
The North Carolina Real Estate Commission has been receiving an increasing number of calls about fraudulent buyers and sellers attempting to scam innocent people, attorneys, and lenders out of due diligence fees, properties, or mortgage payoffs. These scam artists can be located anywhere in the world, yet claim they are local. Here are a few recent examples of calls we received, red flags to alert you to a potential scam, and potential action you can take to reduce risk.
FSBNO – For sale by NOT the owner
A neighbor was driving by a parcel of land adjacent to their own and noticed a For Sale By Owner sign but did not recognize the phone number on the sign. Suspicious, the neighbor, who knew the property owner, called the owner with the phone number the neighbor already had and asked if they were selling. The owner said ‘No’ and called the police to take down the sign and investigate.
Action you can take:
Fake Seller Contacting Listing Agents
A listing agent received a call from the purported owner of a vacant lot located in a new subdivision about listing their lot. The listing agent did their due diligence by pulling the deedto verify that the names matched, and then sent the listing agreement for digital signatures. Once the signatures were received, the agent put their sign in the yard. As luck would have it, again a neighbor was suspicious. After calling the rightful owner, the listing agent learned that the property was not for sale. The rightful owner showed up, called the agent on the sign and had the sign removed 3 days after the listing was posted.. Later that day the property was relisted with another broker who put their sign in the yard. Again this second listing broker was alerted to the fraud and removed their sign. The property owners now look daily to see if the property is listed for sale either on the MLS or on various websites.
Action you can take:
Fake Buyer Dodging Due Diligence Fee Payment
A homeowner receiving a job transfer listed their home for sale. The seller received a full price offer the first day with a quick closing. The seller contracted to sell the property and immediately contracted to purchase a home in their new town and submitted a Due Diligence fee equal to the amount of Due Diligence payment they were to receive from their home sale. The buyer made one excuse after another and the Due Diligence payment never came. The seller was told that the buyer was sorry and offered to raise the price $25,000 if the seller would wait until the closing to get the Due Diligence fee. When the seller went to the attorney’s office to sign the settlement documents, the seller learned that the buyer wasn’t real and was trying to get the attorney to wire the proceeds of the sale to them. The seller was unable to purchase their new house, lost the Due Diligence fee they had paid, and was in serious danger of losing their job because they did not relocate. With the loss of the Due Diligence fee on the new home, the seller also was unable to make their next few mortgage payments.
Action you can take:
Fake Seller Disappears After Receiving Due Diligence Fee
Someone claiming to own a property listed the property for sale and got multiple offers during the ‘Coming Soon’ period. A buyer went under contract and delivered a large Due Diligence fee that was wired to the seller’s account. The “seller” was never heard from again.
Action you can take:
Other Red Flags or statements to look out for:
1. The buyer/seller is traveling on vacation (sometimes abroad), claims they cannot meet in person, and has to do everything by email.
2. The seller has a family emergency, needs a quick cash sale, and will accept substantially less than full price if they can close in a very short time.
3. The email address or phone numbers are from another country. Of course, there are legitimate buyers and sellers who live overseas, but this does raise a flag that should be checked.
4. The photo IDs, such as drivers’ licenses or passports, are barely legible.
5. The Seller does not require a Due Diligence fee and/or low or no Earnest Money combined with a quick closing (in order to obtain quick proceeds before a scam is discovered).
6. The buyer/seller makes constant excuses, is not able to perform the terms of the contract, or is not returning paperwork.
7. The buyer/seller gets very angry at the broker as the transaction gets closer to closing and applies pressure on the broker to make sure the deal goes through. Sometimes they offer an incentive such as commission bonuses or promising other opportunities to buy or sell.
Remember to protect yourself and your client by asking questions and doing research when faced with red flags.
As a part of the Commission’s ongoing effort to combat discriminatory behavior in real estate brokerage we are committed to evaluating the annual Update courses to include relevant topics and resources. To this end, the 2020-2021 General Update Course included substantial material on fair housing, and the 2021-2022 Update Course included substantial information on racial equity. This material can serve as a great resource and is available for reference on the Commission’s website.
Janet Thoren, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Len Elder, Director of Education and Licensing, and Mike Gray, Chief Auditor, spoke at the North Carolina Association of Realtors Convention on October 18.
Janet Thoren, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Kristen Fetter, Deputy Legal Counsel, Mike Gray, Chief Auditor,and Chad Wilson, Auditor-Investigator, spoke at the ARELLO Regulatory Investigator Seminar on November 1-3.
Fred Moreno, Chief Deputy Legal Counsel, spoke at the Greensboro Regional REALTORS meeting on November 1.
Sheryl Graham, Consumer Protection Officer, spoke at the Keller Williams Realty office meeting on November 9 and at the Brunswick County Association of REALTORS office meeting on November 17.
Bruce Rinne, Information Officer, Brian Heath, Consumer Protection Officer, spoke at the Longleaf Pines REALTOR Association meeting on November 22.
Are you interested in joining the staff of the North Carolina Real Estate Commission? From time to time, employment opportunities become available. They are posted on the Commission’s website under the “About Us” tab.
The Real Estate Commission is currently searching for an attorney to serve as Associate Legal Counsel II to prosecute cases before the Commission involving allegations of violations of the Real Estate License Law and Commission rules.
Click here for more information.
JOSEPH DAVID CANDELARIA (CONCORD) – By Consent, the Commission suspended the broker license of Candelaria for a period of 6 months, effective December 1, 2022. Commission found on February 4, 2022, Candelaria timely submitted a criminal conviction form reporting four felony convictions of possession of marijuana, but failed to timely respond to two Letters of Inquiry. Candelaria failed to report four additional drug related misdemeanor convictions in 2016 as well as a probation violation.
ANDREA VACAFLOR AYOROA (CHARLOTTE) – By Consent, the Commission reprimanded Ayoroa, effective December 1, 2022. The Commission found that in or around February 2022, Ayoroa acted as a buyer’s agent for a client who contracted to purchase a vacant lot. After the termination of the contract, Ayoroa’s buyer-client filed a complaint with the Commission against the listing agent. During the course of the investigation of the initial complaint, Ayoroa failed to timely provide a substantive response to multiple Letters of Inquiry.
CHRISTINE D COX (HICKORY) – By Consent, the Commission suspended Cox for ninety (90) days, effective September 20, 2022. The Commission found that Cox acted as a listing agent for residential property located on a lake and included a boat dock. After the property went under contract, it was discovered that the boat dock lacked a tag and it was further discovered that the boat dock was not permitted. The buyers terminated the contract a few days later without expending any funds. Respondent disclosed the lack of permit issue to the next buyer. During the course of the investigation, Cox failed to timely reply to multiple letters of inquiry.
Do you rely on technology to conduct your brokerage activities? Have the advancements in technology made you feel like you have been left behind?
The Commission is aware that technology has consistently impacted the practice of real estate brokerage over the past several years. Some brokers have expressed their frustration about the challenges they face while conducting brokerage activities.
In an effort to determine the need for educational materials to meet the technology needs of brokers in North Carolina, and the best source of those materials, the Commission is asking for your assistance in completing a survey. This survey will take approximately 3-5 minutes to complete and your responses will remain anonymous. The Commission values the input of the brokerage community and would like to thank you in advance for your participation.
The deadline for survey submission is Monday, December 12, 2022.
You can access the survey here.
If you have any further questions or comments, please contact the Education and Licensing Division at 919.875.3700 or email@example.com.