Archive for June, 2010

Fraudulent real estate advertising a real danger

Posted in Uncategorized on June 17, 2010 by johngesa

Whether you’re trying to purchase a home or rent one, there are many places where properties are advertised these days, including a ton of websites that offer free or inexpensive classified ads. Unfortunately, some of the property advertisements out there are frauds designed to separate you from your money without actually offering property for sale or rent.

It’s far too easy to mock up a fake ad by copying and pasting the text and photos from another website where the property is legitimately listed for sale or rent. These ads can be very convincing to those looking for a new place to live. However, there are some red flags that consumers can watch out for:

Asking for a deposit or rent money for a property for sale or rent without any opportunity to view the property, inside and out. This is a common scam on some advertising websites, where those interested in renting a house might be asked to wire first and last month’s rent to the “owner” or “landlord” without being allowed to visit the property, for some spurious reason – the owner is out of the country or doing missionary work, the house is being renovated, and so on.

Offering to mail the keys in exchange for a deposit, or asking for personal information such as a bank account number, driver’s license or social insurance number. Even if you don’t end up sending the scammer any cash, they may be able to use that information to empty your bank account or set up credit cards in your name.

The price is well below what similar properties are asking. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. The low prices are how scammers suck people in.

The most important common denominator is that in a scam situation, generally the prospective tenants or owners will never see the property in person until they show up to claim it – and find the rightful tenant or owner already living there, oblivious to the existence of the scam. It’s a horrible situation for all involved.

If you need to buy or rent a property somewhere you are unable to visit before doing so, consider working with a real estate professional or reputable property management company. The national website of the Canadian Real Estate Association, REALTOR.ca, lists homes for sale and for rent across the country, with easy contact information for the real estate professional who has listed each property. This information is sent to the website by local real estate boards that have strict rules and regulations in place for members who post property listings, so they are reliable and accurate.

There are also many local and national property management companies that rent homes and apartments, and are happy to work with out-of-town clients. Or ask for a recommendation from friends, clients, a new boss or workplace HR department, even a school principal or clergy person. Everyone has had to find a place to live at some point, and a referral from a respected member of the community may be more reliable than a free internet advertisement. Doing your homework and making sure the deal is real can save you a huge amount of hassle later on.

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