BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Buying a home is hard enough but that coupled with a global pandemic has many Americans struggling to pay their mortgage. With this knowledge more and more scammers have been targeting homeowners.
“This pandemic we have seen extraordinary growth in values we’ve seen pandemic related market disruptions and rising building cost in the housing market. Over the last 12 months home price index has risen over 20%,” said Sam Abed, Executive Realtors.
Sam Abed, a local broker, said because of this 20% increase, the median home price in Bakersfield has jumped to $385,000.
“During the pandemic we didn't see an increase in mortgages, but now that the government is getting involved in increasing interest rates, we are seeing a big change. I have seen a few escrows that have canceled.”
Abed said after the interest hikes from 3% to 5%, he’s seen mortgage rates increase. For example, for a $297,000 home, a monthly payment that normally would have been $1,700, would now be $2,200.
“It's really impacted it dramatically so if you qualified for a home for $500,000 and that interest rate went up, more than likely you now qualify for 400, or 400 and a quarter. So, if you’re in escrow, or you’re building a home for example, and you’re locked into a contract for $500,000 and there is a 0.5% increase chances are you might end up canceling that escrow.”
Local Realtor Nona Darling said she's seen clients struggle to pay their mortgage and that is when they are most vulnerable but there are ways to avoid scammers.
“If you have a problem with your loan, or a question about your mortgage, or your home, don’t just take a phone call from some random stranger or a text. Contact a realtor or contact your mortgage lender that you have your home with right now.”
Darling said to review your loan paperwork and pull the number from there for help.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta recognizes that there are many scams that homeowners can fall prey to and has these tips for you, which include:
- Don't pay up-front fees for loan modification services.
- Don't transfer your title or sell your house to a "foreclosure rescuer."
- Don't pay your mortgage payments to anyone other than your lender or loan servicer.
- Never sign documents without reading them first.
If your complaint is against a real estate broker or salesperson, visit the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) for details, or call the DRE Public Information Line at (877) 373-4542.