Beware: Real-Estate Online Scams
Real-estate is among the industries who are stepping up with their online marketing. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), about 84% of home buyers and sellers maximize the internet as a marketing strategy. Those who are relying on realty magazines and books and television for selling and hunting homes are decreasing in numbers. Given with this kind of information, realtors cannot disregard the fact that online marketing has become a major force in the industry.
Along with understanding the benefits of marketing online, we should also take a look at the risks posed by online scams and fraudulent activities. According to studies, about $400 billion are lost by U.S. organizations every year because of online scams and fraud. Home buyers and even home sellers are not exempted from these fraudulent activities.
An example of such is when home buyers would see prospect homes listed in both web-classified ads and official real-estate agency websites. The prices have huge discrepancy and those listed in web-classified ads tend to cost less. Attracting more clients, home buyers would later find out that it is not an official sell at all. They lose money and at the same time, possible property acquisition.
How do we avoid or identify such scams? Usually, those who are claiming to be the owners of a property up for sale or rent would say that they are out of the country. If you are renting a home, they would ask for an advanced payment which could be deposited or sent through check. Never pay or provide money for any property that you have not yet seen. Some real-estate scammers would be able to show you a property, however, remain cautious and do some research first on the property before proceeding with any kind of payment. Usually, a search on Google using the phone number will lead you to suspicious information.
A seller could also experience fraud. An interested “buyer” would send an email and ask about the seller’s property. They would usually ask details about the home. As a seller, you should check other web-classified ads. It is not unusual for seller to find their own property listed there by another person.
Stealing a person’s identity is another major online problem. If you are registered in a firm, there is a possibility that other people/lenders would be able to pull up your information. There are also some “agencies and firms” that would solicit membership. Before joining, verify if the firm or agency is legitimate. They may only be using your personal information for their own transactions.
To protect yourself against real-estate scams, never provide any kind of personal and financial information to individuals or organizations that would send you emails asking for it. Verify the information provided by the person you are dealing with. Scammers would usually send checks to give an impression that they are indeed making payments. You could ask the bank and have the check verified.
But the best thing that could help you avoid such problems is by getting a real-estate agent or a mentor to help you out. Mistakes in real-estate happen because beginners or even those who are already in the business for while, would forget to talk to others and ask for advice.