Monday, May 18, 2020 / by Vanessa Saunders
From Vanessa Saunders, MBA, MIMC , Broker Owner, Global Property Systems Real Estate.
This weekend, one of our agents received an unusual phone call about one of our listings. What that caller told her set off all kinds of red scam-flags. The caller said she was interested in a rental of ours she saw on Craig's List. (Flag one - we never use Craig's List, EVER.) She had called the number on the Craig's List ad and spoken with a gentleman who claimed she could see the property but had to put down a $1,000 deposit. (Flag two - we don't require deposits to view a property.) Our caller thought something was odd about it, so she called our agent. (Flag three - if it doesn't pass your smell-test, it probably isn't legit. And this one stank to high heaven.)
As long as there has been real estate, there have been scammers trying to take advantage of buyers, sellers, landlords and renters. With COVID-19's slowing down of personal property viewings and interactions between parties, it has become even more difficult to tell transactions from transgressions.
Scammers take advantage of social distancing practices as excuses for not letting people see a property before asking for a deposit or personal financial information. According to the Better Business Bureau, a majority of people who run into real estate scams do not fall for them. But of those who do take the bait, one in three will lose more than $1,000.
The BBB offers these four ways you can protect yourself from real estate scams:
1. Watch out for deals that are too good to be true.
Low prices, attractive amenities, a great location etc. Check Google Maps to be sure the address actually exists and to see if the property is listed somewhere else. And don't use Craig's List to find a home. EVER.
2. Look for the same listing in another city.
See if you find that exact same address, that exact same phone number or that exact same email. That’s a big red flag that this is a scammer who’s plugging that same information into different ads to see who falls for the bait.
3. Visit the property in person whenever possible.
Even with COVID-19 rules, it is possible to walk through properties unaccompanied by a Realtor. Your agent can contact the owner and set up a solo walk-through, or use Skype, Facetime or Zoom to give you a look around and confirm the property is legit.
4. Never give in to up front money or banking information requests.
Our caller got it right when she suspected the "owner" she spoke with sounded fishy.
Global Property Systems says:
If you do encounter a scam in progress, contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. Internet scams constitute a federal crime, so don't hesitate to bring in the big boys, however trivial or outrageously bogus the scam might be.
CONTACT US at Global Property Systems for more information about Hudson Valley real estate, or to find your next home.