A growing number of real estate professionals are warning about scams and misleading commercial projects they are advising against.
In a new study released Wednesday, the Center for Responsible Lending said the average real estate professional is at risk of being a victim of a commercial realtor scam.
The center found that nearly half of all residential mortgage loan servicers surveyed had reported receiving at least one commercial project from a commercial developer in the past year.
The center said more than a third of the commercial realtors surveyed had made multiple loans to residential mortgage lenders in the same period.
Most commercial real estate brokers said they are not actively trying to sell their properties to potential buyers, according to the report.
The report also said the vast majority of commercial realty professionals surveyed reported being unaware of the risks of commercial projects.
The group is concerned about the increased number of commercial loans in recent years, the report said.
“Real estate professionals may be tempted to sell a property for less than it is worth,” said Scott McNeil, a senior director at the center.
“They may be hesitant to commit to a long-term commitment or take on additional risk.”
The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, compiled the report with help from a team of reporters.
The Center said the real estate profession is in a “period of heightened uncertainty” and that the lack of oversight is leading to more and more commercial realtionships.
The Center for Consumer Financial Protection, a consumer advocacy group, released a report in April that said residential realtor scams have become more common.
In the first three months of this year, more than 4,000 people were reported to have been scammed by commercial realotors, according the Consumer Financial Safety Commission.
That was more than double the number of people who were scammed in the first quarter of 2016, which was the first time in nearly two decades that the commission has seen a spike in scams, according its website.
The report comes as lawmakers in the U.S. and abroad are debating whether to enact stricter rules to prevent the kind of widespread fraud that helped fuel the 2008 financial crisis.
In the past, lawmakers have also called for tighter controls on the lending practices of commercial lenders, including stricter oversight and tougher penalties.