Whether you’re looking to buy Cincinnati real estate or looking to buy a condo for sale in CT , it’s important to be aware of the many scams that are out there as they can happen to anyone, although those who have no experience in buying or selling are particularly prone.
Fraud in real estate is said to be one of the fastest growing cybercrimes in the nation, with the FBI reporting that it received more than 300,000 complaints in 2017 with total losses exceeding $1.4 billion. In the real estate sector alone, there were over 9,600 victims who lost more than $56 million last year.
The best way to avoid being scammed is to be aware of and successful identify real estate scams so you don’t fall prey to criminal tricksters.
Hacking Your Agent’s Email Account
Hackers have been impersonating real estate agents by hacking into their email accounts. They read messages between agents and their clients searching for potential lucrative news, such as an upcoming closing. The hacker then sends an email from the agent’s account, telling the recipient where to wire their closing funds. The recipient follows the instructions only to learn their hard-earned money was just stolen and placed into an untraceable account overseas.
Avoid becoming a victim of this scan by confirming any instructions to send money via email over the phone, with both your realtor and the bank you’re sending the money too.
Fake Online Listings
One of the most common scams involves scammers that duplicate property listings. They simply download images of someone else’s property along with the details about, and create fake contracts in an attempt to get deposit or broker fees. You can avoid this by requesting the help of a legal professional to example the validity of a contract before paying any money to the realtor or broker.
Sellers Withhold Information to Get You to Buy a Lemon
One of the most common ways for homebuyers and renters to get ripped off is through legitimate property owners, though it happens most often when there are no real estate agents involved, such as For Sale By Owner or rental ads on Craiglist and the like. They hope that you’ll buy (or rent) their “lemon,” meaning a house that has all sorts of problems that you don’t discover until you move in. You can avoid this by bringing along a trusted real estate agent when checking out the house and asking as many questions as you can. There are certain things that legally must be disclosed, even when selling a house “as is,” so you may want to have a lawyer look over any sales agreement before you sign on the dotted line as well.
In this scam, a so-called real estate agent sells property to a buyer, but when the check is written for escrow, instead of depositing it into the escrow account, it’s deposited in the unlicensed realtor’s account. You can avoid this by vetting both the realtor you plan to work with and the one at the other end of the sale, making sure they are currently licensed agents.