How to avoid falling victim to a scam while seeking houses for sale
Buying a home is a stressful and, usually, expensive time in anyone’s life. Emotions run high and it is all too easy to slip up and make mistakes if you do not proceed with caution. Unfortunately, property scams when it comes to houses for sale are common, and by the time buyers realise they have been blindsided, it is already far too late. Technology is also exceptionally helpful when looking for houses for sale online, but it can be used by con artists looking to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. If you would like to avoid falling for a property scam and wish to know how to spot the signs of a fraudster trying their luck, then keep reading.
The process seems rushed
Buying a home is not something that can be rushed as it is a major financial decision that will significantly impact your life. A general rule of thumb when contacting agents and landlords is to never allow yourself to be pressured into making a decision quickly. Scam artists will often push buyers and renters into a deal or into transferring a sum of money as quickly as they can because this minimises their risk of getting caught. It is essential to stand your ground and avoid urgent prodding to act quickly or potentially lose the deal.
A deal that seems too good to be true
Scammers often advertise houses for sale online at a ridiculously low price, knowing that prospective buyers will take the bait. It is important to realise, however, that most sellers would never knowingly sell their properties for less than market value. If you are unsure whether or not the price is set suspiciously low, research other houses for sale in the area and their selling price.
Be careful of small fee requests
Scammers do not necessarily always go after large lump sums of cash. They also have more subtle ways of tricking victims into sending them money. Sometimes, they may request that a small fee be transferred for arbitrary services, such as credit checks or a type of holding fee. Once paid over, the scammer will disappear and getting this money is unlikely as you will have a hard time tracing them again.
The agent seems suspicious
People trust property agents, especially when it comes to matching them with the right houses for sale. Scammers take advantage of this trust by posing as an agent or professional agency. There are some red flags that can help you to suss out whether you should be extra careful:
- The agent refuses to meet you, or continually postpones or puts off a viewing of the home. This is usually an indication of a scammer, as real agencies take prospective buyers seriously and will make time to show them a home.
- The agent cannot provide proof of their identity or the agency with which they work. If the agency does not have a head office or physical location from which they operate, this is a warning sign too.
- When the agent seems to disappear once official paperwork, or the involvement of a lawyer, is requested.
How to avoid property scammers
The best possible way to guarantee that your property-buying process will happen hitch-free is to partner with a reputable agency, such as Fine & Country South Africa. You can trust us to ensure that all procedures are above board and legal, and that you are not vulnerable to scams. Having been specialist leaders in the industry for a long time, we know how to protect buyers from pitfalls, such as fraud and dishonest dealings. We will also help to pair you with houses for sale that cater to your preferences, which means you have more property options of better quality.
If you would like to get in touch with us today, do not hesitate to fill out our online contact form here.