The ""Texas Real Estate Commission Standards and Enforcement Services Division"":http://www.trec.state.tx.us (TREC) has issued a statement alerting the state's real estate community and the public that the agency has received complaints[IMAGE]against a group of individuals and companies doing business in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, representing themselves as real estate agents and brokerage companies even though they do not hold Texas real estate licenses.
Owners of real property, tenants, buyers, and investors claim to have lost large sums of money related to the group's real estate schemes. Among other things, the complaints allege that the group takes and keeps deposits for properties over which they have no authority or no control. They allegedly do not pay rent to property owners on property they claim to manage for those owners, or take large security deposits from tenants and then keep the money.[COLUMN_BREAK]
According to TREC, typically, they take deposits on properties that they claim are available for a short sale but in reality are days away from foreclosure, and apparently, much of the solicitation of potential victims has been conducted through the online Craigslist.com marketplace.
To verify the identity of any person soliciting or providing real estate services, license information can be obtained by doing a ""license lookup"" on ""TREC's Web site"":http://www.trec.state.tx.us. The state agency says the public should be aware that Texas laws provide that consumers who use licensed Texas agents have the financial protection of the Real Estate Recovery Trust Account if they suffer actual damages caused by misconduct of a real estate licensee. Consumers who use unlicensed individuals or companies to perform real estate brokerage activities are not eligible to be reimbursed by that account.
Based on information filed with the complaints, the group allegedly hires unsuspecting people to perform real estate brokerage services, such as showing real properties for sale or lease and writing contracts or leases, and misrepresents to the ""employees"" that a real estate license is not required in order to perform those services. These employees are also apparently solicited via craigslist.
Unlicensed real estate activity in the state of Texas can be subject to conviction for a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and criminal and civil penalties.