Whether you already own a home or you’re buying, renting a home or taking a loan against your property, the last thing you want to worry about is being scammed. According to the FBI, 11,578 cases of real estate or rental fraud were reported in 2021. Real estate wire transfer fraud, foreclosure fraud, fake listing, and rental scams are just a few of the common real estate frauds. Here we share with you some warning signs of a real estate fraud so that you can spot them and take precautionary steps to save your finances:

1. Demand money to be sent to an alternate bank account

A scamster tricks real estate agents, lenders, sellers, title agents or even the buyers to divulge their email account details. They then monitor real-time communications and insert themselves at just the time of closing. That’s when they ask the buyer to wire the funds to an alternate bank account.

If you are closing on a property and receive an email seemingly from your real estate agent, check the details of the email properly. You will be asked to wire a lump sum amount of money in order to avoid closing delay. Before you wire the money – check the account number, the names, email signature, email id and domain host. Also, call your real estate agent’s office to verify the email.

2. Unrealistic promises

One of the most common real estate frauds is foreclosure relief scam. Scammers target homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage payments. They dupe homeowners into believing that by paying an upfront fee, they can save their homes and reduce mortgage payments. However, their real intention is to run away with the money, leaving homeowners in a worse financial situation.

If you are struggling to pay your mortgage, you need to keep these things in mind:

  • Only your mortgage service provider can lower your mortgage
  • You can apply to the federal Making Home Affordable (MHA) program
  • Be cautious of people offering you money-back guarantees

Here is a useful read on avoiding modification scams.

3. Proper paperwork is not in place

If you are buying a house and the seller is unable to furnish proper paperwork, it is a red flag. Some scammers may try to coerce you into making partial payments before they send over proper documentation such as title deed, original sale contract and property tax document. Before you wire money, it is good to get a title deed or real estate attorney involved to make sure that the paperwork is in order.

4. Not showing the actual property

Scammers often post property rental ads on various online portals and social media to lure unsuspecting renters. They sometimes use fake photos or photos from other listings. If you are about to rent a property, make sure that you see the property in person and do due diligence that the person showing the property is the real owner.

Title theft – another common real estate scam

Title theft also known as deed theft happens when a scamster assumes your identity and forge your property documents. They transfer your home title to their name without your knowledge or consent. Here is a useful read on how you can protect yourself  from home title theft.

If you are a victim of real estate fraud, hire an experienced attorney

Real estate frauds are often complex financial crimes and to recover your money and property, you need an experienced attorney to handle your case. David L. Fleck has secured courtroom wins for individuals and businesses that suffered real estate fraud.