You’d be foolish to think you couldn’t be fooled in a real estate transaction. While the majority of sellers, buyers and renters are presumably honest, there can be additional players with skin in the game, including landlords, real estate agents, bankers or employees at title agencies. The crooks don’t always have on orange jump suits. Many are former real estate professionals who are using the system. So how do you know if you’re about to be taken by scams? You can’t, but there are warning signs and steps you can take to protect yourself. Even if you are working with honest people, there are smart ways to approach buying, renting or selling property.
Sometimes, you really do stumble into a great deal and you want to act quickly before someone else stumbles on, and snags this great deal. But rushing means you have little time to question what you’re doing. Craigslist.com is a great resource for jobs, social connections and even furniture or pets, BUT not for sales or rentals of real estate. In a common scenario, the person placing the ad will tell the renter that they’ve relocated, they need to rent [the property] quickly, here’s a photo. Just go look at the place, but I can’t show you the inside. The renter will send the “landlord” a deposit and show up at one of his business’s many offices, asking for the keys. Of course, that’s when the renter learns he was working with a con artist who had simply taken a photo of an apartment and let the victim’s imagination fill in the blanks.
It may seem crazy to rent property without walking through the interior, but what do scams depend on? Somebody thinking this is an amazing deal and they have to jump on it.
Vet People and Businesses
Just because someone has a LinkedIn or Facebook page doesn’t make him or her trustworthy. For instance, a couple times per year, often in the spring local news will have stories about unsuspecting tenants loosing large sums of money through scams. But one can hardly blame the victims, often the con artists are previously licensed agents or landlords, sometimes the scams originate from outside the country and the only communication is via the fake ad and email. This scenario happens more than we’d like to believe.
If you’re really concerned, check online to see if anything concerning pops up. To find someone you trust, ask for a referral from a close friend or family member. If your moving soon don’t end up getting scammed and potentially loosing thousands of dollars.
Have you had first hand knowledge of rental scams or know someone who has lost time and money due to rental scams? Share the experience below to help prevent a scam from happening to someone else. Thanks!
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