Berkeley Councilwoman: Beware Shady House Buyers

Senior communities are targeted by unscrupulous real estate investors. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

BERKELEY – There have been real estate investors using “aggressive” tactics to buy homes in the senior communities, and officials are urging residents to report these tactics.

The most recent tactic involves signs telling people to sell their house, Councilwoman Judith Noonan said. These signs are against the township’s code and are removed if they are reported. In one case, they had a sign posted right in front of a legitimate open house.

This is not a new problem, but a new development in an existing problem, she warned. There are people who use aggressive tactics to try to scare people into selling their homes.

Residents have also reported receiving letters urging them to sell their house that make them feel threatened, she said.

In these cases, the person sending these letters is not a licensed real estate agent, Noonan said. Soliciting of this nature is illegal.

In the past, some seniors have been taken advantage of by investors making money off what they see as a vulnerable population, she said. The investors will do horrible things like sell the house and then never give the owner the money.

These investors, who try to scare homeowners, are undermining the licensed real estate agents in the area, she said. The licensed agents follow the township’s ordinances, pay rent at an office, and follow all the rules. It is not fair to them to allow someone to skirt the rules.

When someone contacts you who doesn’t have an address or license, you should ask “Who are you doing business with?” People should make sure they have an attorney look over any contract to make sure that you don’t sign away your rights and your property, she said.

People finding the signs should call the code enforcer at the township’s main number 732-244-7400.

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Chris Lundy is News Editor at Micromedia. He has covered Ocean County news and features in various publications since 2003. Lundy worked for Gannett with articles in The Beacon, Observer and Asbury Park Press. He's also written for the Community Connection, Patch and ShoreBeat.