Unfortunately, scams happen in the real estate world too. Here are four common ones that you need to avoid.
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While the majority of people are good and honest, a few bad apples always try to take advantage of others. The real estate market is no different.
Here are four common real estate scams that you need to be aware of so that you don't fall prey to one:
1. The mortgage closing scam. This scam starts when hackers gain access to a party of the transaction's email account and try to divert the purchasing funds of one of their clients. If you happen to be in the process of closing on a home and you get weird emails asking you to wire funds to an account or the instructions for wiring your funds have suddenly changed, make sure you check with your lender, your agent, and/or the title company before you send funds to a scammer that you'll never get back.
2. Fake real estate lawyers. In this instance, a scammer will pretend to be a real estate lawyer who is associated with a particular home sale. They'll then gain access to someone’s account on the seller side of the transaction and contact the other side of the transaction and try to divert their purchasing funds.
Find a real estate agent you trust to represent your best interests.
3. The bait-and-switch. In this case, a buyer makes an offer on a home that is well above the listed price. Once the seller accepts their offer and the contract is signed, the buyer starts dragging their feet and prolonging the process. In the meantime, the seller continues to pay costs for the home and the unethical buyer hopes that the seller will eventually agree to sell at a lower price just so they can get the deal over with.
4. Property deed scam. Technically, this one isn't illegal. However, it is a scam and we see it on just about every transaction. After closing on a home, a buyer gets a note in the mail that looks super official that says they need to pay a certain amount to get a copy of the deed for their new house. In reality, the county sends you a copy of your deed for free after closing. Since the deed is public record, scammers can make a copy of it and legally charge you for any amount they want.
Now you ask, "How can I protect myself against scams like these?" The answer: find a real estate agent you trust to represent your best interests and always, always, check and double check before you wire funds.
If you are ever in need of a trustworthy real estate agent or you have any questions for me, please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to help.