South Austin neighborhoods targeted with suspicious real estate offer

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Homeowners in South Austin said they are suspicious about the motive behind letters being sent to them which make big promises.

Amy Weappa, who lives in the Bouldin Creek neighborhood, gets a lot of real estate offers. 

“They always come in envelopes that look like they are personalized, but they are just basically form letters,” said Amy Weappa who has lived in her home since 1996. 

Some try to scare you, and warn of a final notice. Others offer promises of a great opportunity. But a recent note in the mail caught her attention. 

“When you get a letter like this, it does make you look and think, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s really nice, that’s a family.’ But I investigated him and I don’t feel like he’s being honest. I found out it’s a real estate agent and he’s out of California,” Weappa said.

Weappa’s name on the envelope is hand written. At the base of the letter is a picture of a loving family with a plea that her house is the perfect home for them. Turns out, it’s not all that personalized, after all. 

“Some neighbors from next door were saying, ‘Hey, did you get one like this?’ And everyone was like, ‘Yeah, we got one, we got one, we got one.’”  

“Information needs to be presented correctly and accurately. Otherwise that could definitely be pushing some ethical boundaries,” said Kathy Sokolic, an Austin realtor with Green City Realty. 

Sokolic said she’s familiar with this strategy. 

“A lot of investors try to bypass the listing process. They want to get to the house before it hits the market. So a lot of times, an out-of-state investor will try to get those homes directly from the sellers.”  

Numbers for Austin’s housing market explain why some realtors might try to use these practices. 

According to the Austin Board of Realtors, the median price for an Austin home was just under $395,000. That’s a slight increase over last year. 

Homes sell on average a week faster than this time last year. Most homes sell within a month. And with homes selling faster, the number of listings are all down. There’s not enough inventory for the people wanting to buy. 

Weappa just hopes a letter like this doesn’t hurt someone who has invested their heart in their home. 

“It’s somebody out there trying to take advantage of someone who doesn’t know any better and they may be sympathetic when they see it’s a picture of a family and they need help. But I’m not buying it.”  

Sokolic said you should always use an in-state agent to manage a listing. That way you can make sure you are fairly represented when you do decide it’s time to move on. 

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