Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct channel number of the CBS DFW station and the spelling of the last name of the couple described as serial squatters.
The Greater Texoma Association of Realtors is warning area real estate agents to keep an eye out for a couple described as “serial squatters” who have come to the Texoma region after costing home sellers in the DFW Metroplex thousands of dollars in unpaid rent, repairs and legal representation.
CBS 11 DFW, which did a the story on the couple last month, identified the husband and wife pair as William and Heather Schwab. According to the media outlet's report, the Schwabs pose as buyers who are unable to close on a new home immediately and ask for a temporary residential lease back, allowing them to move into the home and pay monthly rent until a closing date agreed upon with the seller. But the report indicates that the Schwab's rent checks often bounce and leave homeowners with no choice but to begin the lengthy and costly eviction process. The Dallas CBS station reports that the couple has been evicted more than 20 times in the last 17 years.
“We were actually alerted by one of our members on Monday or Tuesday that they had set up an appointment and had showed these folks houses and had actually spoke to their lender,” Greater Texoma Association of Realtor Association Executive Lindsay Wright said.
Easy Life Realty agent Brandy Landon said she was contacted by Heather Schwab online about a $450,000 property located on Lake Texoma in Pottsboro that had been posted on the home listing website Zillow.
“She seemed very nice, just sweet as could be,” Landon said. “She told me she had three kids and two dogs and a husband and they owned a collections company, which they were able to run from home.”
Landon said Heather Schwab told her that she and her husband Eric had the income for the purchase, but they were working with their lender to rebuild their credit and qualify for a home loan from Veteran's Affairs. Landon also contacted the couple's lender, whom she identified as Ernesto de la Cruz, and he further explained the couple's position.
“Basically their offer was a three month, temporary lease with a contract to close on or before a February date,” Landon said.
Landon said the seller of the Pottsboro home declined the offer. When Landon went to make another similar offer on a home for the couple in Prosper, she said the listing agent asked her whether she was working with the Schwabs and directed her to the CBS story. Landon said she immediately recognized the man and woman in the photos and videos as the Schwabs.
“I sent Heather a message and said 'Hey, I'm really sorry but I can't represent you and I'm sure you know why,'” Landon said. “She never responded and that was about it.”
Landon said she believed the Schwabs set their sights on Grayson County properties because agents in Collin and Dallas counties had grown wise to their tactics.
Wright said while homeowners can evict the couple, the two can lengthen the process by requesting additional time and later court dates from a judge.
“The eviction process actually protects the consumer more than it does by the landlord,” Wright said. “In the meantime, they're living there free. And by the time you get them out, they've trashed it and you're out trying to make it sale-ready again.”
Sellers interviewed by CBS reported that the couple had smoked in their homes, allowed pets to urinate and defecate inside and caused other forms of damage.
Wright encouraged Texoma-area agents to thoroughly vet any information provided by a client and to always work with a trusted lender.
“Just do your research,” Wright said.