Everything is going swimmingly in multifamily real estate these days, right? Rents keep rising, construction is still chugging along, deals are being made, and delinquencies are still at historic lows. So everything’s good, right? Maybe not. It appears there could a deep, dark secret at the core of multifamily […]

lending that could destroy the market. And in a truly sad bit of irony, the secret could be very similar to the one that crushed the single-family housing market 10 years ago.

Fake residents, fake incomes, and inflated mortgages. Sound familiar?

The report details how the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Justice, and the Office of the Inspector General for the Federal Housing Finance Agency are in the middle of an investigation that the WSJ calls “one of the biggest mortgage-fraud probes since the financial crisis.”

The whole WSJ article is definitely worth reading (if you have a subscription, that is), as the article extensively details some pretty brazen fraud allegations involving the loans backing approximately $1.5 billion in mortgage securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

From the WSJ article:

Owners of an apartment complex near Pittsburgh, who wanted to take out a mortgage on the buildings, allegedly made vacant units look occupied by turning on radios, placing shoes and mats outside doors and in one instance having a woman tell inspectors her boyfriend was asleep inside.

The owners obtained a $45.8 million loan, which was wrapped into mortgage securities and sold to investors.

Practices such as these—which were alleged in a federal search-warrant application—have sparked one of the largest mortgage-fraud investigations since the financial crisis. It focuses on whether income from commercial properties was falsified, a move that would enable owners to get larger mortgages and take out cash or expand their businesses faster.

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