Our real estate portal can be a great way to find somewhere to rent, to buy a cheap property or to sell your house. But with any online space there’s always a risk of hoaxers being active and attempting to trick you.
With thousands of live ads at any given time, it’s hard for our real estate websites to stop every fake ad or block every fake user instantly. Therefore, being aware of what to look out for is a big help to avoid real estate scams.
What does a Real Estate Scam look like?
Real Estate scams trick potential buyers or home sellers into thinking they are dealing with a legitimate contact but it is actually a scammer.
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one method that fraudsters use.
So far, the only known scam on our website are fake enquiries. This means someone sends a message to the advertiser through the contact form on our website.
Once the advertiser replies to the enquiry the scammer can use his email contact to spam him with emails.
He might tell a story of “being a soldier in Iraq that likes to invest in your country” or “being the widow of president so and so who likes to move to your country with all her millions”. Stories like that definitely ring a warning bell.
We also recommend that you discontinue communications with the enquirer if he/she:
- doesn’t want to travel to see the property or asks you to come and see him
- wants to buy the property for a higher price than asked
- likes to know your bank details or to wire funds via money transfer services
- wants to pay in advance
As we have no way to check the authenticity of an advertised real estate, we recommend caution before giving sensible information to anyone you don’t know. This is standard online practise.
Scammers will usually pose as genuine sellers and post fake ads. That’s why they are very difficult to spot.
The ad can be for anything, rental properties or real estate for sale. Most probable, it will even include pictures and other details – maybe copied from a genuine seller’s ad.
We recommend that you discontinue communications with the seller/landlord if he/she:
- asks for rent payments or deposits in advance
- seller claims to be unavailable and insists on payment before you can inspect the property
- seller is very interested to get all your personal data
Also, if you are still not sure, you can do an internet search using the exact wording in the ad, many well-known cheats can be found this way. If the advertiser is a real estate agent you can also look up his business information to see if he is legitimate.
How to protect yourself from Real Estate Scams
Being informed about possible dangers in itself is already a protection. It helps you to be cautious and to look out for warning signs.
We all heard this many times, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
We focus on advertising cheap properties for sale our website, therefore many times it looks too good to be true. But of course, that does not mean they are fake ads.
A good indicator is to search for similar properties for sale in the same location. Also see if the real estate needs major works. You might be looking at a fixer-upper. Only if the price seems far lower than the competition you may question its authenticity. Often the reason for one real estate being cheaper than others is its condition, location or legal problems.
Use a safe legal procedure to buy Real Estate
Fortunately, most countries have a certain procedure in place when it comes to buying properties.
This makes it almost impossible to go through with a Real Estate Scam until the end. For example, in many countries it is mandatory to use a notary or lawyer to deal with the sale. Even if the seller requests a deposit as a down payment before the sale, this can already be handled through a trust account of a notary.
Sticking to the official process is a simple and very effective way to safeguard yourself against real estate scams.
How to report a Real Estate Scam
Have you spotted a fake ad on our site? Please, drop us a quick message in our contact form.
Do you like to report a scam? Depending on the country you are from there might be different places that are best for you to report the scam.
Here are just a few
Australia – https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam