Unfortunately, with the increasing use of online technology, scams are becoming more and more common in our world today. Sometimes it can be difficult to even know it’s happening until it’s too late. The housing market is no exception and real estate scams can cost you big! Here are some tips to recognize and protect yourself from becoming a victim.  

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Common Real Estate Scams

1. Escrow Wire Fraud  

This happens when fraudsters get ahold of an email or phone number and give instructions on where to wire money. There are fake websites created by scammers to make them seem legit. Therefore, it is important to carefully read through information regarding payment for an indication of fraud. For example, a fake document may try to impersonate our website as exprestitle.com when it’s actually expresstitle.com. Did you spot the difference? Just one “s” was missing, and this vital detail could lead you to a fake site run by cyber criminals.   

The best way to protect yourself from this type of scam is to review the original documents you received from us and your lender. Also, don’t click on links or messages without verifying that they are real by comparing them with original documents.   

2.Fake Listings and Rental Scams  

When searching for a home, you can find one you like with images and an address provided. However, some scammers can post pictures of properties that don’t exist, aren’t available, or aren’t owned by the person listing them. These scammers may charge you to see the house and disappear once they receive the money. Other scammers might charge buyers for the house without the chance to view it in person. Once the scammer receives the money, they disappear, leaving the buyer losing a huge sum of money for an unavailable house. And surprise, surprise! The seller won’t respond to the email.  

How to prevent this? First of all, always be cautious when making these kinds of purchases. Before starting any business dealings, verify that the seller indeed owns the house by conducting research online. Verify that the real estate agent is legitimate by taking a picture of their license and researching them online. Always see the house, the real estate agent, and the actual owner of the property before purchasing the house. Do not pay digitally or in cash. Instead, use a check to make the transaction because it will serve as an automatic receipt. 

3. Faulty Home Inspection  

A thorough house inspection is a necessary procedure in the process of purchasing a new home. Having a third party evaluate the condition of the house is important to determine the value of the house and identify possible hazards in the house, like leaks or mold. It is important to have a knowledgeable expert conducting the inspection, or else the buyer might end up paying a lot of money later for damages from before they owned it. However, some unqualified scammers pose as house inspection companies. Looking to make money, these scammers are inexperienced in-house inspections and will not provide the full inspection the buyer needs. Other home inspection scammers might be qualified and provide a full house inspection, but they might have additional hidden fees that will make the cost of home inspection much higher than the original price.  

A real estate agent usually knows a couple of good home inspection companies but doesn’t immediately assume that they will be the best companies. Conduct your own research on the recommended companies and look for reviews, experience, and reputation to ensure you get a high-quality home inspection for a reasonable price.  

4. Home Mortgage Scams 

Some mortgage scams can come from seemingly legitimate companies. The trick comes in the interest rates. In advertisements, the companies may advertise low-interest rates and no closing costs. As customers apply for the mortgage, they realize that suddenly the rate has increased, or they don’t qualify for the closing cost benefits advertised. This is a scam by the company which leaves customers feeling cheated. But why can’t the customer just pull out of the mortgage? Some companies might require a nonrefundable upfront payment that leaves the customer feeling unwilling to back out of the deal and just proceed through it. 

To prevent these types of scams, it is important to be aware of the mortgage buying process. Consider seeking help from an expert in this field. Conduct research on lender companies and read reviews by other customers. This can help you avoid businesses that utilize unfair business practices. 

When you are thinking of buying a home, it is an exciting moment and a huge investment, that is why it is important to acquire knowledge and conduct research beforehand. Buying a home isn’t easy and you can’t automatically trust the things you are being told. Therefore, learning about steps of the process of purchasing a home is important.