Memphis homeowners receiving cold calls from strangers to buy their homes are frustrated.
A shortage of homes for sale, coupled with an increase in investors purchasing homes in the Memphis area, has led to a rise in calls made to property owners. The callers ask if homeowners want to sell their homes for cash, and close in a matter of weeks.
Industry experts said several different groups of people are making the calls. Local investors, national investors, homebuyers, callers made from call centers, and wholesalers are just some of the groups making the calls.
Wholesalers are essentially middlemen who find homes under contract, and then they find investors to purchase the homes.
"Right now, it is so magnified because the market is as 'nuclear hot' as it is. That is why you are seeing and hearings so much of it now," said investor Michael Stansbury.
Stansbury operates MemFixerUpper, an investment company that buys and flips homes in the Memphis area. Stansbury has been in business for 15 years.
Stansbury said he has had to change his marketing strategy due to the influx of so many companies cold calling. Instead of random cold calling, Stansbury said he advertises, sends mailers, uses social media, and gets a lot of business by word of mouth.
"We get a lot of referral business," said Stansbury.
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"If it is a live telemarketing call and you are on the 'do not call list,' they are not supposed to call you," said Randy Hutchinson, Director of the Better Business Bureau of the Mid-South.
Hutchinson said it is not illegal to cold-call homeowners asking if they are interested in selling their homes. And even if a person is on the "Do Not Call" list, it likely won't stop people from calling.
The callers offer to buy the homes "as is" and quick closure. They often offer the homeowners less money than if they had listed the homes for sale on the general market.
"These types of offers generally make more sense for owners who are under some stress to sell a home, a divorce, or an estate situation," said Hutchinson.
Stansbury said your best bet is not to answer the phone if you don't know the phone number. Also, if you are on the Do Not Call list, inform the caller, though he admits it won't stop the next person from calling.
"Ask them who they work for and ask them their name and then look them up online. Do they have a BBB profile, what are their google reviews, what are their Facebook reviews?" said Stansbury.
Stansbury said to try and get as much information about the person if you are interested in the sales pitch or gather that information because you want the person to stop calling.
Jack Conway is one of the many homeowners who continue to receive calls weekly. Conway has a residential home and rental property, and the cold callers want to buy any of it.
"It is annoying. I want it to stop. If I wanted to sell my house, I would list it, " said Conway.
Stansbury believes the heavy cold calling will continue until the housing market cools off.
"There is not a lot of inventory, and when that happens, you have people chomping at the bit to get into that market," said Stansbury.