With foreclosures expected to rise through 2012, ""Realis Real Estate Software"":http://www.RealisSoftware.com recently offered tips for REO agents to avoid legal trouble when working with multiple foreclosure properties.
The Denver-based workflow management software firm says foreclosure fraud is also increasing, which means potential damaging litigation.
According to the FBI's annual mortgage fraud report, yearly losses due to mortgage and foreclosure fraud range from $4 billion to $6 billion, and more than 70,000 suspicious cases went unprosecuted last year.
""The fraud and legal issues that trail real estate agents and brokers differs widely from the fraud news that surrounds servicers,"" said Lauren Roberts, founder of Realis Real Estate Software.[COLUMN_BREAK]
""For agents, it is truly about integrity, organization of all key data, and documentation,"" she continued. ""With that stated, it is inevitable that the exposure being felt at the servicer level will to some extent trickle down to the agent level at some point.""
Roberts stresses that agents and brokers should not overlook occupant rights. If there is a rush to get a property vacant, they must ensure they do not violate the occupant's rights to remain in the home.
She also advises to remain up to date on local codes, laws, and municipal requirements. Vacant homes rife with violations are subject to heavy fines and potential litigation. In some cities, it results in full demolition.
Agents should also ensure the repairs and improvements listed in the broke price opinion (BPO) do not conflict with ""no knowledge"" as it relates to disclosure and property condition, Roberts says. If a failed sale results in inspections on file, the agent must disclose.
Roberts recommends that agents and brokers check the title of a home up front. Most states prohibit agents from listing a home if there is no marketable title.
Additionally, Roberts encourages honest accounting and reimbursement practices. By keeping accurate and thorough accounting, agents and brokers ensure their books are clean and ""above board,"" she says, adding that agents and brokers should also follow accurate valuation practices to avoid issues down the road.