"Ug buys ugly houses."
Sounds simple, right? Wrong. My experience with HomeVestors has been nothing short of nightmarish. We've all seen their red and yellow signs, displaying the slap-happy clay-mation caveman "Ug" who claims he'll buy "any house in any condition." You've probably even seen their matching Scion XB's rolling around Mobile advertising the same. One might assume it's a pretty well-established business. Well, HomeVestors of America, Inc. is a nationally recognized corporation based in Dallas, Texas. It regulates a series of franchises across the country and I've been to Hell and back with Mobile's own Cash 4 Houses, LLC. on 7 North Bayou Street. The mortgage payments on my home in West Mobile were quickly slipping behind and I was desperate to sell and move out. Upon contacting Cash 4 Houses, I was about one month away from foreclosure proceedings. On October 5th, 2007, I signed a "LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT" which entitled me to my entire home loan payoff and even a small profit. "Good news," they
told me, after quickly viewing my home and making an offer. "We can get you your payoff!"
Wow! I was assured that closing would be quick--no more than two to four weeks. It was like a dream come true. I never had to hire a realtor, never had to place my home on the market and wait for prospective buyers... it was a small miracle. And we all know what happens when something is too good to be true. We discover it isn't.
Three or four days after the contract was signed, I called my buyer (Who will hereafter be referred to as "Mr. Z") who claimed he was waiting on me to fax a printout of my loan information and payoff amount. Okay. No big deal. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding. I immediately faxed my paperwork and apologized that I did not know he had been waiting for my response and that I instead had been waiting for his. I called the following day to confirm that he had received the fax. I could not reach him in the office or on his office cell, so I left a voicemail. I heard absolutely nothing from Cash 4 Houses until October 16th, when I was contacted around 4:00 PM. They wanted to know if they could show my home to their prospective investors around 5:30 PM. It was a really short notice, but I agreed anyway. I cancelled plans I had made with a friend over a week ago so I could race home and bust my butt cleaning the house. I called Cash 4 Houses to confirm they were still coming. I didn't get an answer so I left yet another voicemail. About an hour later they called to inform me that it was too late and they would not be coming after all. I said, "Fine, some other time then."
After a few more days of waiting, I called Cash 4 Houses again. "I'm just looking for some answers." I said. "I've called a few times and left messages for Mr. Z and never heard back. Can you maybe look up my information and tell me the status of my sale?" I discover that I'm speaking with Ms. N, the Short Sale Specialist. If you are familiar with real estate, you may already know that a short sale is a partial loan payoff made in agreement with the lender to avoid foreclosure. She tells me she can't find my file and wants to know if I can drive to see her at the office. I agreed and cut an hour of pay from my workday. "I simply haven't heard anything and I'm continuously getting calls from my lender attempting to collect. Why haven't they been notified of this sale?? I am drawing closer and closer to foreclosure!" Ms. N claims that she can't find my file and she has no idea what contract I am talking about. So, like the dumb*** I am, I let her talk me into signing short sale paperwork. I was scared and I wanted to avoid foreclosure. Luckily I never provided her with my loan information so the short sale was never finalized.
I didn't hear a word from Cash 4 Houses again until I hounded the receptionist with calls on October 23rd. Of course Mr. Z wasn't in and another few calls and voicemails to him didn't solve that problem. So I asked for the owner, Mecca, with whom I could not speak because she was on vacation until the following Monday. FINALLY I got a call back from Mr. Z. Then the fun starts. "Well, we found out you are six or seven months behind and are currently in foreclosure." He tells me. "Your payoff amount is also higher than what you told us." What?? You mean I've been asleep for six to seven months? How did I not know this?? He added, "We can't buy your house because you have a lien that's been placed on your property to prevent it from being sold. But we're working on that." We are all human. I do not forget that we all make mistakes. Every day. But when I protest, "I think you've mistaken my information for someone else's; none of those things are true about my property," he replies, "Wellll... I'm getting conflicting information here." So you don't believe me? Fine. Do your research and you'll discover I'm telling the truth. "Did you do this research yourself?" I ask. "The people who do this research for me told me this." "Well, I don't know who your sources are, but none of that is true. We have a contract and I am ready to close it. I guess I'll let my lawyer know about this problem and let him take it from here." I'm beginning to wonder if this is a joke. "Wha-What good is that going to do?? JAMIE, you have a LIEN on your property. We CAN'T buy it. We're working on that. But," he swiftly adds with a nicer tone, "we might be able to do a short sale!" So he's telling me he may be able to pay LESS for my property, even though it apparently has a lien on it that prevents it from being sold at all. "Fine. But why I haven't I been contacted about this problem? It's been almost three weeks." "I've TRIED calling you." What a huge steaming load of CRAP. Like any nerd, I carry my phone at ALL TIMES. And my phone, like most, keeps a good record of MISSED CALLS and VOICE MESSAGES.
Here's the lowdown. Cash 4 Houses will dodge your calls and not respond to you. Apparently they produce decoy contracts as a way of leading you on until you are desperate to take whatever they will offer. This is a detestable, unprofessional, and highly unethical business practice that I hope comes to a stop before even more people fall victim to their scams.