It’s no secret that people have been scammed by fake house buyers and/or sellers in the past. Even if you are desperately searching for a new place to live or really want to sell your house quickly, you need to keep your eyes our for scammers and protect yourself from making a grave mistake. Here are some important warning signs to determine if a house buyer or seller is fake. Keep these in mind as you house hunt or list your house for sale and be sure to hire a real estate lawyer to protect you and your assets through this process.
Signs of a Fake Seller or Listing
You Are Unable to View the Property
An obvious sign of a fake house seller is someone who won’t show you the property before they expect you to buy it. If you ask the seller to visit the property but they claim it’s not possible and or available for viewing, look out because this might be a fake listing. They may even provide you with an excuse such as being out of town or caught up at work, but don’t be fooled. Most home sellers will do their best to make time for interested buyers so that they can sell their property in a timely manner. Never buy a property you have not seen in person.
The Price Is Too Good to Be True
The cost to buy a home in the current national economy is climbing. This booming market means prices are much higher than they were just a few years ago. Since competition is helping the housing market thrive, investors won’t make much of a profit if they don’t keep their prices competitive. If you are looking at a property, especially one in a metropolitan or developed area, the price will likely be high. If you notice a price that is too good to be true compared to other houses in the neighbourhood, this should set off warning bells. You could be looking at a fake house listing or agreeing to purchase a home that has hidden issues. In the housing market, you get what you pay for.
Extreme Sense of Urgency
Even if you are desperately searching for a new home, never fall into the trap of buying a property from a seller who is too urgent to get rid of their home. If you see phrases like “available for this price today only” or “need cash deposit up front” pump the brakes and do some detective work. You can contact the property’s listing agent to confirm that the information on the website is correct or ask your real estate agent to look into the listing for you.
Immediate Sizable Payment Asked by Seller
If the seller asks you for a sizable down payment or cash upfront, be very careful. When looking to purchase a property, there are certain things buyers need to be prepared for. They need to conduct a title search to check for any previous issues with the property and do a home inspection for a physical check of the health of the property. You should never pay for anything up front to the seller before you have visited the home. If the seller asks you for money upfront, it’s a major red flag that you may be getting scammed.
Listing Photos Look Unrealistic
One of the easiest ways to spot a fake listing is it the photos look fishy. If you are looking at purchasing a condominium, look at the floors as they will likely be 95% consistent. You should also examine if there is a watermark on the images with the website you are visiting. If the website watermark does not match the watermark on the images you should do some more research because scammers like to steal images from legitimate listings and make changes to the pricing and contact information before reposting false ads. You should also look up the property on a search engine like Google to see if there are multiple ads posted for it. You can check to verify which source is the true, legitimate source, and which ones are fake. Be sure to look for high-quality, clear photographs and never purchased anything unless you have looked at the physical property with your own eyes.
Signs of a Fake Buyer
Sharing Too Much Info
Watch out for buyers who are too eager to share their financial details over email, including statements or bank account records. They may portray this sharing of information as “proof of funds”, but if they deliver this information before you’ve requested it, be on guard. It is also very unusual for an buyer to send their private banking information to you directly. All monetary transactions (ie. the down payment and transferring of fees) should be handled by your real estate lawyer—not directly between buyers and sellers. If a potential buyer emails you their banking information, don’t open it.
Contact Zinati Kay – Real Estate Lawyers for Professional Guidance When Buying or Selling
As you can see, there are many things to watch out for when seeking to buy or sell your home. Staying sharp and knowing the rules will ensure you do not agree to something that is illegitimate. If this is your first time buying or selling a home, hire a real estate lawyer to help you with the process. They have the experience and know-how to protect your rights, help you notice fake offers, and walk you through title search and mortgage refinancing if you require additional services.
Zinati Kay – Real Estate Lawyers is a full-service residential real estate law firm that provides fixed closing costs to our clients when they buy, sell, mortgage, or title transfer their property. We have closed over 19,000 real estate transactions in our years of service and have helped many of our clients understand the terms and conditions of their forms.
If you need peace of mind and assistance selling, refinancing, or transferring title of your property, give us a call and we will be ready to help you. You can reach us at (416) 321-8267 or visit our web site for more information.