Everybody needs a place to call home. That’s what the real estate industry is for, providing safety and sanctuary to the masses. However, these ideals are only possible when the sector operates at its best. Every market has a few rogues, shady and deceptive individuals who spoil things for everybody else. Sadly, the real estate industry is no exception, with false expectations, accusations, and lawsuits materializing here and there. Still, if you’re suitably informed and prepared, you can take concrete steps that will help you to avoid real estate scams indefinitely. After all, it’s important not to give up and to instead approach the sector with care and confidence.
5 Important Tips To Avoid Real Estate Scams
What measures need to be in place here? Are there particular things you should be aware of? Read on to find out more.
1. Research Reported Fraud
Some people experience fraud and feel too ashamed to report it. Others feel compelled to seek justice, whether they have fallen victim to these schemes or simply suspect they were targeted.
There are many channels for people to report real estate scams, and not all publicize their data, even though they will share findings with law enforcement authorities. Nevertheless, there are scam trackers that are free to use for any individual suspecting fraudulent activity. You can browse their databases and search the real estate parties you’re dealing with to authenticate them.
It should be noted that real estate scams aren’t always explicitly mentioned on government resources websites. That said, these types of reports may fall under the umbrella of banking and telephone scams, as they’re broad enough to encompass some real estate activities. Stay up to date with all the latest knowledge through all the official sources you can. After all, they’re likely to have more current information that’s based on the most recent cases of reported fraud.
Happening upon these reports can be a perspective-altering moment, too. You may realize the scale of the problem or learn from other people’s mistakes to avoid making your own. Get out of your head and gather some useful data.
2. Dig Into Their Website
Scams are often paper thin in every sector. The ploys can be surface-level, and once you scratch beneath that surface, it becomes evident that the entity you’re dealing with is a load of hot air.
Dealing with real estate professionals is a good place to start with this effort. They must be property experts and demonstrate a full awareness of local markets. If their website simply features sketchy listings and great offers, then it’s generally a sign that what you’re viewing is misleading and superficial.
Proper real estate agents will have fully functioning websites. They will mostly have sale resource pages for the different localities. They might also have well-researched blog content to keep visitors informed, have pre-qualifying resources, and maybe even a free market analysis page to help you clinch accurate property evaluations in moments. Professional websites will also have a friendly communication team that can be contacted directly for additional insights as well.
You should set the standard high for every entity you encounter in the real estate market. This is an industry where a lot of money moves around quickly, and people make the biggest investments and life decisions they ever will. Reliable firms will respect that and do everything they can to make things easier for you.
3. Review the Reviews
Of course, many real estate services like to share positive remarks about their business online. Some of these comments are legitimate, but others won’t be.
Some services may even be selective of what reviews they post on their website. When reading them, look out for signs of potential falseness. Are the reviews written comprehensively and in good English? How much detail is provided? The commentary length will vary, but if all the feedback consists of short, poorly written sentences, a bot or paid individual may have churned it out.
Take your search elsewhere as well. There will be independent reviewing sites for real estate services where remarks are authenticated. Browse those as well to establish a more reliable consensus. Be patient as you comb through everything, as you must be thorough.
If digital profiles accompany the reviews, inspect them to see if you can find any more information on the person who posted them. They may have a review history that will help you discern whether the reviewer is a real person with honest intent. Repetitions of keywords or phrases may imply foul play. If there’s a date with the review, check it to establish the relevancy of their comments.
4. Focus on In-Person Arrangements
When moving and selling property, the parties involved often act through proxies, like real estate agents. It’s understandable to a degree. That said, if you’re a prospective buyer, meeting the property owner yourself can be a resounding endorsement that the negotiations are legitimate.
If an alleged property owner is hard to find, that should be a red flag. They can typically be found through public records if they exist and are legitimate. The County Tax Assessor Office and mailing list companies should have some records available, and they should permit you to access them for free.
Alternatively, you could try going back to basics as well. After all, most people have a digital footprint these days, so if you have enough information to go on already, you might be able to track down property owners on social media and arrange an in-person meeting that way. They should be happy to speak to you, especially if they have difficulty selling their abode.
The most important thing is not to limit these conversations to the phone or signing contracts and making cash payments digitally. The more you can ground these activities in the real world, the better. If they’re supposed to live at the home they sell, knocking on their door should be a last resort, as it’s perhaps more forward and disruptive to validate their identities and build trust.
5. Learn About Moving Fraud
The real estate scams, unfortunately, don’t stop once the big moving day is underway. These problems can persist.
Sadly, ‘weight bumping’ is a practice that has existed for decades, where moving companies unexpectedly increase the recorded weight of the cargo at the eleventh hour. These fraudulent actions then drive up costs for clients. Not only this, but they can store your belongings in their facilities until you pay up, a dirty practice not a far cry from a ransom.
Many people encounter these problems when they go with the cheapest option available at the time. However, it’s important to listen to your deepest gut instincts here because some deals are too good to be true around this aspect of real estate. Source quotes from multiple reliable sources, and ensure that you get them in writing too. Recommendations from your network may help you avoid these problems too.
Additionally, request that the moving company gives you their licensing number. They should comply, and when they do, cross-reference those figures with a US Department of Transportation division called the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It can be a good way to authenticate their services and give you more reason to expect fair play. Once you’re confident that the service operates fairly and legally, you can proceed with more confidence.
Forewarned is Forearmed. Even a basic knowledge of most common real estate scams can go a long way in protecting your hard earned savings. Practice due diligence at every step of your home buying journey and leave no stone unturned when verifying online resources. Have an anecdote to share about a real estate scam or a tip to safeguard oneself from scams, due share in the comments below.