Investors send fake checks to homeowners to buy homes in the Triangle.

The housing market is feeling a lot like the Wild West with rising rents, declining home sales and rising mortgage rates.

Investors hoping to buy and sell homes at a profit are getting creative in their strategies.

WRAL 5 On Your Side has uncovered several cases where various investors sent fake checks to homeowners in the Triangle to buy their homes outright.

Surena Johnson lives in a two-story house near the Neuse River in Raleigh. She bought the house in 2008 and watched it go up in value.

“It’s a good-sized house,” Johnson said. “Four bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms and a fenced yard.”

While she plans to sell soon, she is not yet ready to put it on the market. That hasn’t stopped investors from trying to get her to do it. Earlier this summer, she opened the mail and offered to buy her home with what appeared to be a check for $298,000.

“It was like, ‘If you want to get rid of your property, here’s your money, we’ve got more where we came from,'” Johnson said.

Johnson alerted real estate broker Monique Edwards, owner of NC Living Realty. Edwards told WRAL 5 On Your Side that she knows of at least three such incidents, each targeting different homes in Raleigh and Durham.

“All three individuals had very different backgrounds,” Edwards said. “I told them not to pay the whole check.”

Homeowner investors are getting creative in their approach to buying a home.  Some are sending fake checks to buy the said houses.

WRAL 5 On Your Side then spoke with Cara Gibbons, an attorney who works at Jackson Law. The firm has offices throughout the Triangle. Gibbons oversees residential real estate matters and has seen many interesting situations, especially in the past year.

“You think you’ve seen the craziest thing and you’re like, ‘Hold my beer, something else happened,'” she joked.

Gibbons said the check was not legitimate. She explained that there was no bank name, number, account or routing number on the cheque. There is also a bar code that appears to be used to scan mail.

“There aren’t the usual things you see on the bottom of the check,” Gibbons said.

It is simply a marketing ploy by investors to get you interested and sell your home to them quickly. So, they can turn around and sell it for more.

Gibbons explains that while the beneficial nature of these offers is attractive, you may be shorting yourself out of money and suggesting you sell in a more traditional way. If you try to withdraw money, the bank may charge you with a fraudulent check, she said. Although, she said, they are more likely to try to educate the individual.

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WRAL 5 reached out to all three companies that sent you a check.

Ryan Fitzgerald of W Endeavors LLC and Carl Jackson of LLC did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Oak City home buyers Kirk and Carolyn Farmer sent the check to Johnson. Kirk Farmer explained by phone to WRAL 5 On Your Side that he is new to real estate investing and used the check to market his company. He said that the system was not as successful as he had hoped and that he plans to change the advertising system in the future.

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