OC Illegal House Flipping Defense Attorneys
"House flipping," or "flipping a house," is a legal activity that has become very popular among investors, even moving into pop culture through television shows. There is, however, a very different kind of house flipping that is illegal. If you are a private or professional real estate owner accused of illegal house flipping in Southern California, Orange County defense attorneys at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti are here to provide a defense.
Legal house flipping involves buying a house, repairing and remodeling it, and hopefully selling it at a profit. The criminal type, on the other hand, is a form of loan fraud.
Consider this example:
A person discovers a home selling for $200,000. They then contact a real estate lender who agrees to sell the home, for a steep fee, at $300,000. Based on paperwork and information provided by the real estate company, the bank agrees to give the person a $300,000 loan. That person only pays $200,000 of the loan, and walks away from the property with $100,000 of the bank's money.
When the fraudulent homeowner defaults on the loan, the house goes into foreclosure. The bank is unable recoup its loss of $100,000 because the property is only worth $200,000, or the amount that has already been repaid. The bank then hires their own investigators to see if the housing values in that neighborhood went down or if the real estate agent sold the property at an inflated price. They then file criminal charges either against the real estate company, and/or the person who bought the home.
This problem is taken very seriously, to the extent that it may lead to federal charges if done on an inter-state level. The complex nature of the issue may even lead to criminal charges for certain lesser forms of flipping. For example, a homeowner might be approached with an offer to sell their home at an inflated price. As in other cases, a "straw buyer" then takes out a loan, pays a certain amount back to the bank, and walks away with the extra money. Whether or not this constitutes flipping is debatable; however, as in all such cases, Prosecutors can argue that the parties involved in the transaction should have known better and should be criminally charged.
House flipping is difficult to understand because of the many ways it can occur and because of the legal ramifications involved. Don't get trapped wading through the mire of house flipping alone. Our attorneys are determined to provide assistance in the most difficult cases.
"Our company received notice from a bank that they were working with investigators to prove we committed real estate fraud by house flipping. We called Michael L. Guisti and he showed investigators there is no way we ever engaged in any sort of real estate fraud. We made a deal with various property owners that were within the law, and Michael L. Guisti showed that to the court with lots of documentation he and his group of people got together. Michael L. Guisti is a guy you want on your side if your business is coming under fire. He is a very great guy to have around and talk with about your case, and a lot of different things. Thank you so much Mr. Guisti for all your work in saving our business and proving we were right!"
Any parties involved in a line of transaction can be considered responsible for a fraud case.
You could be at risk if you were involved in any of the following capacities:
- Property buyer
- Straw buyer
- Real estate broker or agent
- Real estate appraiser
- Mortgage broker
- Loan officer
If you handled paperwork and such in a case of flipped property but were unaware of the scam, you should not be tried for criminal intent. In fact, many who are charged with fraud think they are involved in a legitimate transaction but end up getting charged along with those who perpetrated the crime. Unfortunately for them, the illicit form of flipping a house is considered a grand theft crime.
Grand theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony, but in typical property flipping cases it is charged as a felony. If you are convicted, you could face up to three years in a prison and a fine of up to $10,000. You can receive further fines and prison time if your fraud involves $65,000 or more, or if you have similar charges on your criminal record. The importance of a lawyer to help professionals sort through these matters cannot be understated.
A charge of house flipping could result in very severe federal charges, devastating your reputation as a real estate professional. Attorneys from Law Office of Michael L. Guisti will fight these serious allegations, and strive to protect your career. We have over a decade of experience winning real estate fraud cases for our clients, and can use this experience to benefit your case.
Call us now at (714) 530-9690 to learn more!
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.