The Top Real Estate Scams — Don’t Fall for It

real-estate-scamScams are everywhere. And let’s face it, it’s getting more and more difficult to tell what which real estate offers are legit and which ones are just out to scam you for your money. Even independent real estate appraisers in Austin have been nearly taken by some of these complex scams. The scams can get even more complex when they involve commercial real estate appraisals or business deals.

And as these cons get even more sophisticated and elaborate, here are some of the ways you can easily sniff out the shady agents from the credible ones:

1.    Renting out vacant homes

This one of the more common yet easily pulled off scams. All the fraudsters will need is a vacant home, typically because the owner is out of town. The agents then pose as the homeowners or pretend to represent the homeowners who want to have the property rented.

Once the interested renters have been lured into leasing the home, they will hand them fake legal rental documents, collect the down payment or even collect monthly rentals. The entire thing can go on for as long the real owners of the home are away and the entire thing falls apart only when they arrive to their home with renters in it; who are now left with no option but to vacate their new home.

2.    Saving homeowners from foreclosure

With the current state of the economy, a lot of homeowners fell into the unfortunate situation of being unable to pay their mortgages. This is where the fraudsters swoop in to save the day, with claims that they can help you save your home from foreclosure.

In this particular scam, the agent claiming to help will usually get a fake loan on the house, with the intent of letting the owners rent out the property. Here’s what they get out of the whole thing—a massive sum of money which they charge the property owner desperate to save their home. Once the necessary fees have been settles, scammers will promptly disappear without a trace, leaving the homeowner without money and a home now on a second mortgage they can’t afford.

real estate scammer3.    Targeting unavailable properties for lease

In this case, the scammer scans the real estate market for property that isn’t listed under rentals and target those who are in the market for renters seeking for a temporary space to rent. The agent now asks for the interested renter to wire the security deposit for the home and an advance. By the time the renter arrives at the home on their moving day, they realize that the place wasn’t even for rent after all.

4.    Selling illegal properties

In this common scam, the scammer posing as an agent purchases property, usually through illegal means, and resells them for much higher prices. This requires the con artist to produce fake loan documents and even offer appraisals to establish credibility of the property and their intent. After they have established themselves as sound and trusted agents, they then offer their illegal properties to potential buyers at an extortionate amount. Of course, once the scam is exposed, the new homeowner is left with nothing after having just purchased property at a high sum , which now has to be foreclosed.

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