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BBB advisory: House flipping seminars won’t get you rich quick

Roanoke BBB is advising consumers to be cautious of companies traveling to Roanoke July 10-12 to host free seminars on flipping houses. These Seminars claim to show how the average consumer can learn to successfully buy and quickly resell or “flip” houses to build long-term wealth.

Companies offering this type of workshop often claim there is little to no risk in the investment process. While consumers are often encouraged to attend the seminars for free, they are then offered a longer training at a discounted rate, usually for a few hundred dollars.

“The lure of an easy payday can be tempting, especially in a tough job market,” says Julie Wheeler, president and CEO of BBB Serving Western VA. “These seminars will advertise that anyone can succeed at flipping houses, and even use other people’s money to do so. Developing the skills and obtaining the resources needed to succeed takes a long time and there is a high level of risk involved in House flipping the average individual cannot afford to take on.”

Consumers who are considering attending a house flipping seminar should keep in mind the following cautions:

  • You will not learn everything you need to know at the initial seminar. While that event may be free, it is probably a sales pitch for more extensive programs that can cost thousands of dollars.
  • Don’t fall victim to high-pressure sales tactics. Take the time to research the opportunity carefully and don’t sign a contract until you fully understand all of the terms.
  • Check out the refund policy and be sure to get all promises in writing.
  • Many fixer-upper or foreclosed homes on the market have been empty for long periods of time or may have been vandalized, which will make for costly repairs and will make the homes difficult to “flip” quickly. If you don’t have enough financial resources to hold onto the property for as long as it takes to sell it – this business is not for you.
  • If you purchase a home with violations, you could face fines or criminal penalties if you fail to fix them or cannot afford the needed repairs.
  • If you plan on financing the purchase of a house, be sure to budget for the appraisal, filing fees, insurance, taxes and maintenance of the house until it is sold.
  • Beware of becoming a “straw buyer,” a person who makes a purchase on behalf of another person. The real buyer promises to make all the payments and may compensate the straw buyer for the use of his or her credit. This activity is very risky for straw buyers, who may be held legally responsible for the debt they incurred on behalf of others; this can ruin a person’s credit and possibly even involve an unknowing straw buyer in a criminal scam.
  • Watch out for house flipping “rings” or “one-stop shops” of mortgage brokers, lenders, appraisers, home inspectors, closing agents, and attorneys. These groups try to convince home buyers that they can help with all the details of the home purchase, but because they are working together, there isn’t anybody protecting the home buyer’s interests. In particular, be wary of unscrupulous home appraisers who may fraudulently inflate the value of a property in an appraisal as part of a house flipping scam.
  • Check out a company with the BBB before doing business. Be sure to check out a company’s BBB Business Review, rating and complaint history. BBB Business Reviews can be found at www.bbb.org.

For more information contact the BBB at 540-342-3455 or 800-533-5501. Visit them online at www.bbb.org and find them on Twitter and Facebook.

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