OK, people…please, please, please. When looking for a home to buy or rent, use some caution. Particularly if you are considering buying a home on a land contract or a rent to own program. This should be old news by now, but until these cases cease it has to be repeated. DO NOT WRITE A CHECK FOR A HOME UNTIL YOU DO A LITTLE RESEARCH! Yes…people are getting scammed. It happened again and we get a phone call every week from somebody asking why the ad they found on line for a home was placed by somebody other than the Wilmoth Group.
The usual scenario is scammer finds a vacant property and markets it on some inexpensive advertising platform. Interested party calls and sometimes they are given the lockbox code (troubling) and sometimes they actually meet the scammer and are shown the property (even more troubling). Most of these scammers are NOT licensed or Realtors, but they probably had a Realtor give them the access information by pretending to be interested in the home. So, Realtors, please stop just giving out lockbox codes to strangers because you are to lazy to go show a home! You may be unintentionally contributing to a scam!
So, lets say as an interested party for purchase or rental, you do want to make a deposit or provide earnest money. Here is a checklist of things to do to make sure you are not scammed.
If a person states they are a Realtor or licensed agent, confirm with the state licensing board, real estate board, or even the company they claim to work for.
Most of these scammers seem to indicate they work solo, so checking on licensing is a smart first step.
Type the address into a search engine on the web and see if other listings come up for the home. If so, call and inquire and see if it is the same people.
Deposits and earnest money should not be made payable to individuals. If you are asked to write a check to an individual, do a lot more homework.
If things seem really suspicious, check the local tax records and locate the name of the owner per these records. Test the agent’s knowledge or even better, attempt to confirm with the owner that they are selling or renting their home with the person you are dealing with.
Do not accept funds from the person you are dealing with in an arrangement to return those funds to them. These scams are elaborate but you will end up ripped off…promise.
Do not send funds to a person claiming they are the owner of a property without using every method in the book to actually confirm that they are the owner. Tax records, picture ID, utility bills…there are many ways to connect the dots!
I am getting sick of these scammers and would like to preach caution to all. If things do not appear right, they probably are not.