As much as we’d all like to believe that there aren’t dishonest people who try to steal money from and prey on unsuspecting individuals, unfortunately there are and they often take advantage of those looking to rent or buy homes or property. You can never be too careful when you’re dealing with your hard-earned money so you need to be aware of some common real estate scams and how you can avoid them.
Here are a few scams that we see all too frequently:
– Sometimes, con artists will find out about vacant homes where the owners are away for an extended period of time or are empty for other reasons. They’ll break in and change the locks on these properties before posting the homes for rent or for sale. After getting you to sign forged and unofficial documents, they’ll collect money until the original owners return, surprised to find people living in their home!
– Unfortunately those faced with foreclosure turn to desperate scams to try to collect money on their homes before the bank takes ownership. The owner may rent out the property and collect rent before the unsuspecting renters are given an eviction notice from the bank, leaving them with nowhere to live on short notice.
– Scammers will also try to impersonate a real estate agent or owner and attempt to sell a home that is in foreclosure proceedings. They’ll list the home for below its value to increase interest then forge documents, take deposits from multiple parties, and vanish with everyone’s money before anyone realizes they’ve been duped. Even worse, these con artists will often use personal information from application documents to steal your identity and continue causing credit problems for you.
– Online scams are popular now with out-of-town renters wiring money to “owners” who list their properties online. Unfortunately, these homes often aren’t for rent or sale and when the renters arrive to occupy their new home, they find themselves losing their deposit money and having no place to live.
Now that you are aware of some of the more common scams, here’s how you can avoid them:
– First of all, it is imperative that you work with a licensed and reputable real estate agent. We are familiar with these scams and know how to avoid them to keep your money and your identity safe.
– Secondly, do your homework and thoroughly investigate any deal – especially if it seems too good to be true. Anyone offering a legitimate transaction should not mind the extra questions you ask.
– Never use cash money or wire money. Instead, use checks or credit cards that can be easily traced.
– Lastly, never rent or buy a home that you haven’t seen in person. It’s very easy for scams to take place through the internet because of the difficulty in finding and prosecuting the scammers.