There are so many scams and weird, unnecessary replies, comments, and spamming on international websites. I use LinkedIn.com and some of the other, larger websites often but I absolutely hate the constant spam and weird scams from many different countries.
Limiting this site to the United States only will not eliminate those issues completely but it will cut down on spam and scams in a big way. As this website grows and begins to get noticed on other, larger sites online, please give me your feedback to this message by replying to the blog that I have just posted by the same title.
Your feedback will be carefully considered but you must give me your response on the blog I have just posted by this exact same title on The Real Estate Finance Website. This is your chance to be heard and shape this great funding website!
Thank you so much!
USA and CANADA only
US, Canada and UK
J. Peter Hans, I would respectfully disagree with the UK. The vast majority of scammers now operate out of the UK, with the Middle East and Eastern Europe second. As I challenged Steve, show me one legitimate lender from the UK with verifiable confirmation of loans funded here in the U.S. and I'll change my position. The same applies for borrowers outside the U.S. The vast majority of legitimate lenders/brokers we're going to see here on LinkedIn are not going to lend outside the U.S. and those that may are not going to be found here on LinkedIn. Let's keep it U.S. and Canada. At least we can vet the lender/investor/borrower and have possible recourse if scammed.
Upon further review, the ruling on the field is overturned. Tom Harrier will not be charged with a time out.
Thank you for your edification as the globalization of financial scams has moved to a world financial center. We too may not be immune if the proper steps are not followed.
Thank you all so much for this huge stream of replies. Please keep them coming. Your comments are helping me make decisions that will benefit all of us!
As of now, here are my thoughts... I am leaning towards not approving new members unless they are in the United States or Canada. Current members that come from another country will stay as members but from here on out, this site's new membership will only be U.S and Canada.
I am sorry if that excludes many good and legitimate people but this is one of the highest quality funding sites online and I need to keep it's integrity for the thousands of members that are already using this.
Thank you so much for your interest!
USA and Canada only. It'll cut down on the obvious international scammers. Everyone here (and those who can't respond here) are all saying the same thing. I echo Andrew's comments below. What? They can't find financing locally?
Also, Andrew's correct: 100% financing deals don't exist here in The States.
Having international tire-kickers merely confuses everyone involved. The language barriers, the time zone differences, poorly worded scripts, poor grammar, responding to offers that are months old, insisting on 100% financing or borrowing the down payment. It's obvious they're not serious and don't have a clue.
If the illegitimate borrowers are limited to USA only, at least it'll cut down on the language barrier issues. Most American & Canadian borrowers know the rules and don't have you on the phone @ 2am on a conference call avoiding the real issues: like having the down payment.
Thanks for the supportive remarks, Rick. You're spot on with the language barriers, time zone differences. etc.
I think this would be a good idea. I work internationally and I deal with these scams all the time. So keeping it on a US only basis won't keep it totally scam free but it sure will cut down the number of BS lenders. Unfortunately even some of the lenders on this site don't do what they advertize so like anything else do your Due Diligence in spite of what these lenders claim.
This site is unique in that it offers potential Lenders throughout the states and countries.
Unfortunately scammers and unethical Brokers exist out there. But to fault ethical and licensed Lenders and Brokers as a result I would not think fair.
How about making this site for the US and then creating an exact same site for all other countries?
Then possibly creating a short sign up form for any Broker or Lender who wants to join and they need to include their license #? This could at least help with scammers. As a licensed NMLS and BRE Broker in the state of California, to offer the best protection for a borrower and investor, you need to have a licensed Broker.
The above is my feedback and I hope it assists in making this site even better.
Best, Forest - The Guy in the White Hat
Forest, the problem with what you have suggested is, less than 5 states in the U.S. require commercial loan brokers to be licensed, CA and AZ being two of them. There are several that make it a felony for a commercial loan broker to accept an upfront fee of ANY amount, including FL, GA, MS, AL and more, but the hurdle there is ,the majority of loan brokers and borrowers are not aware of these laws, so the loan brokers continue to charge upfront fees and the borrowers continue to pay upfront fees with no idea where to turn to when they don't receive a loan. I actually have met with a state representative in FL over a year ago and requested legislation be enacted requiring the training and licensing of commercial loan brokers. Supposedly it is in the works, but I haven't seen it take place yet. We see very few folks on LinkedIn looking for mortgages on owner-occupied SFR's, I would love to see all states move to required licensing for commercial loan brokers and make it a felony crime for any unlcensed activity. That alone would eliminate the majority of upfront fee collector/scammers.
The following is a bit "long winded" but I wish to be thorough so as to not be misunderstood (by both you and others who may read this). I agree with all of your submissions (the ones I've read) with exception to one "point" here. Albeit a minor point, it warrants furtherance. I think there needs to be a clarification between broker and lender when it comes to "up front fees". I realize you're speaking about brokers but what I've come to find during my 20+ year career as borrower, broker, banker, and lender is that most borrowers do not make any distinction.
To your view, I TOTALLY agree that there should be NO reason for a broker to charge an up-front fee. For what? To offset the costs of doing due diligence prior to electing to submit a loan to a qualified lender with whom the broker maintains a relationship? That's the cost of doing business IMHO.
However, as a LENDER or investment banker, I believe there simply MUST be an "up-front fee" at some point during the underwriting process. In the absence of such, who would be expected to cover the costs associated with site visitation, financial investigation, etc.? Those are actual third-party costs (much like an appraisal) which borrowers fail to take into consideration. While some may say, "Hey, that's the cost of doing business.", I would agree....with one caveat. That IS the cost of doing business and the $$ advanced for such costs should be credited toward a borrower's initially disclosed closing costs. However, as anyone who has spent a fair amount of time within this industry (yourself included) knows, borrowers more often than not conveniently "forget" or "overlook" key aspects essential to the viability of any deal. In short, they outright lie and attempt to conceal information thinking a competent broker/lender won't notice:) As a broker, I subject myself to the opportunity costs (lost productivity, overhead, etc.) associated with such scenarios. That's how we sharpen our skills (over time) which is ultimately our "value" to both a borrower and lender and that is why I have absolutely no difficulty justifying my fees.
In an ideal world, lenders have relationships with qualified/competent brokers whom they can trust and that brings down their internal costs; but, they can't reduce the third party fixed costs associated with deal structure. If a borrower doesn't have the $$ to "pay their own freight", I kick them to the curb because that is the first sign of many troubles to come and a clear indication I'm > 99% not going to get paid. At the end of the day, ALL of our time has an associated value and we shouldn't waste it upon those unwilling or incapable of appreciating that.
Oh, one more thing. I've yet to meet a SINGLE borrower who hasn't lost $$ to an up-front scam...just ask 'em...and THAT is why they are unwilling to "put their $$ where their mouth is";)