Some parts of Florida have a thriving real estate market at any given time. Our state attracts home buyers from across the country and abroad.
These two factors alone lead to numerous real estate scams that can cost buyers and sellers and even agents and brokers dearly. Here are a couple of tips to help you avoid becoming a victim
Stick with reputable people and listings
Typically, you can avoid these scams by having a reputable real estate agent and sticking with legitimate real estate sites or listings in local newspapers and magazines you know and trust.
If you wander onto property listings on social media, Craigslist and other sources, what you find may be completely phony or stolen from a legitimate listing. Some scammers create fake listings to ask for money just to look at a property. No legitimate real estate professional does that.
The same is true with companies that buy houses as-is. While that’s not typically the most financially sound way to sell your home, these companies can come in handy if you want to unload an inherited property and get whatever you can without putting any time or effort into it. Check out a home buyer before you give agree to do business with them or sign over the deed to make sure they’re legitimate.
Watch out for wire scams
Even if you have a trusted real estate agent and escrow company, be sure you know it’s them when dealing with them online or over the phone and certainly before transferring any money. Scammers can hack into an agent or other real estate professional’s account and ask a client to send a deposit or other money to an account that goes straight to the scammer.
Don’t make any transfers online, over the phone or any other way (or give out your credit card or checking account information) unless you’re completely certain you’re dealing with the person you think you are and that the money’s going to the right place. When a home purchase/sale is being finalized, things can move fast. It’s easy to neglect to take these extra steps, but it’s necessary.
As noted, working with trusted professionals can help you avoid falling prey to these and other scams. If you take an “outside the box” approach to a real estate transaction, make sure you have sound legal guidance.