Real Estate Scams in SWFL and How to Avoid Them
Hardly any industry is free of hoaxes and scams, and unfortunately real estate is no exception. Since the amount of money involved in a real estate transaction is so high, people who are buying or selling a home are often an attractive target for scammers.
Working with an established, reputable real estate agency like the Link Team will help safeguard you against these scams, but it’s good to know some of the more common ones so that you can watch for any warning signs.
Exclusive Buyer Scams
Picture this: Your home has been on the market for several weeks and you’re starting to wonder if it will ever sell. Then a buyer turns up and says that they love the house so much, they’re willing to make an offer far above the listing price if you’ll sign an exclusive contract with them. Then, at the end of the contract period, they ask for an extension – and maybe another, and another. All this time, you’re still paying the mortgage, property tax, and maintenance costs on the house, and maybe your new home as well. Finally, the buyer tells you that their original plans fell through, but they’re still willing to buy your house at a much lower price than you originally agreed on. At this point, you’re so frustrated with the process that you cut your losses and sell to them, losing thousands of dollars. The original offer was never sincere; the buyer only offered it to trap you into an exclusive contract.
Selling a house is a stressful process and it can be all too easy to fall into traps like this. Always keep in mind that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
This is one reason why Craigslist is a bad resource when you’re looking to buy a house. Scammers will search genuine listings, then duplicate those listings on Craigslist or another community market site. The only difference is that they will post a radically reduced price, claiming that this is a limited-time, cash-only offer. They’ll usually also say that the house is for sale as-is, meaning that the buyer won’t get to have a look inside before making the purchase. They convince someone to wire them the stated purchase price, then disappear with the money.
To steer clear of frauds like this, always stick with a trusted realtor, and never agree to buy anything sight unseen, no matter how good the deal seems to be.
Seller Out of Town
Similar to the fake listing scam, this involves scammers posting a house for sale or rent. Then, when someone expresses interest, they will pretend to be out of town and will ask for the deposit to be wired to them. Once the money is sent, they are never heard from again.
Again, always insist on viewing a property thoroughly before agreeing to any purchase or lease deal, and avoid community marketplaces when you’re looking for a home.
Trust the Link Team for an Honest Deal
The surest way to avoid real estate scams and hoaxes is to stick with a reliable realtor. The Link Team has been in the business for over twenty years, and we have earned our clients’ trust. To make your buying or selling experience smooth and hassle-free, just give us a call at (239) 357-5058 or get in touch through our website.