Homeowners can be vulnerable to predatory investors and mortgage fraud. Beware of the red flags when it comes to housing scams. Learn more about Fair Housing, home owner protections and how to take action in the face of housing discrimination.
- Avoid Predatory Real Estate Investors
Austin is a prime location for homeowners to be targeted by predatory real estate investors. Predatory investors take advantage of homeowners by making them unknowingly accept unfavorable terms or prices way lower than their home's true value. These investors buy properties and sell the homes for a high profit while neglecting to pay the owner a fair price.
Homeowners can protect themselves from predatory investor schemes by looking out for the following warning signs:
- Phony emails and calls that fake urgency & say you owe money
- Random offers for your home
- Extra processing or administrative fees
- High-pressure tactics
- Investor lacks a license
View more information on predatory investors (Web) and see your options if you fall victim to their schemes.
- Mortgage Fraud Protection
Buying a home can be one of the most important financial transactions a person makes in their life. Choosing the right mortgage lender and real estate professionals is essential to that transaction. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals and institutions, including mortgage brokers, real estate appraisers, or real estate agents, may take advantage of vulnerable homebuyers by misleading them about key information like the value of the home to be purchased or the terms of the loan.
The result can be homebuyers who borrow too much money to pay for a home that is not worth what they believed. Homebuyers put in this situation are particularly at risk for foreclosure. Fortunately, there are resources available for victims of mortgage fraud. Homebuyers who believe they have been victimized can seek assistance from the Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Division.
Visit the Texas Attorney General (Web) to find resources for homeowners who are experiencing trouble with their mortgage or who are the victims of mortgage fraud. You will also be able to fill out a consumer complaint form through the Office of the Attorney General.
You can also make a report of suspected mortgage fraud to the City of Austin. These complaints will be reviewed by the Law Department for possible action. To make a complaint, fill out this form (Web). Please note that the Law Department cannot provide you with any legal advice or advocate on your behalf. The City of Austin may only seek to enforce state civil laws that protect consumers from fraud. If you need legal advice for your situation, you can contact a personal attorney or seek assistance from Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (Web) or Volunteer Legal Services of Texas (Web).
The FBI (Web) also dedicates resources to combat mortgage fraud and financial crimes. Visit their site for the FBI’s descriptions of various common mortgage fraud schemes.
You may contact the FBI’s San Antonio Field office at:
Location: FBI’s San Antonio Field office
Address: 5740 University Heights Blvd. San Antonio, TX 78249
Phone: (210) 225-6741
Finally, if you believe that you have been the victim of a financial crime, you should contact 3-1-1 and ask for the Austin Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit. If there is an emergency, please contact 9-1-1.
- City of Austin's Section 3
As a grantee of Federal, State and local funding, it is a requirement that the City of Austin develop and implement a Section 3 program that sets forth policies and procedures consistent with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Section 3 regulations (CFR 24 Part 135).
The City receives the following federal entitlement grants that assist with affordable housing, community development, economic development, and public service needs:
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
- Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME)
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
- Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG)
In addition, the Housing and Planning Department (HPD) actively seeks opportunities that will increase its financial capacity through HUD’s competitive grant application process to expand efforts in hiring and generate economic opportunities for low- and very-low income individuals.
The Housing and Planning Department (HPD) is committed to providing continued employment opportunities for low- and very low-income individuals through its Section 3 Plan, which sets forth policies and procedures that comply with Federal, State and local regulations.
Code of Federal Regulations: 24 CFR Part 135-- Economic Opportunities for Low- and Very Low- Income Persons (Web)
Rent and Income Limits (Link to New Income Limits Page)
For more information on the City’s Section 3 Program, contact HPD’s Regulatory Office at (512) 974-3162.
- Fair Housing and Fair Lending
Fair housing is a federally mandated right that prohibits discrimination in housing choice.
The Federal Fair Housing Act (Web) protects anyone from being limited in their housing choice based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender/sex, familial status and disability.
The City of Austin Fair Housing Ordinance (Web) protects all those in the categories of the Federal Fair Housing Act, and also includes: sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, student status and age.
Discrimination in mortgage lending is also prohibited by the Federal Fair Housing Act. It is unlawful to engage in the following practices based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability):
- Refuse to make a mortgage loan
- Refuse to provide information regarding loans Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points or fees
- Discriminate in appraising property
- Refuse to purchase a loan or set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan
To file a Housing Discrimination Complaint, please visit the Office of Civil Rights Complaint Form (Web).