Regrettably, the world is full of would-be scammers who look for any opportunity to make a quick buck at the expense of vulnerable consumers. The buying and selling process of real estate is no different. The main difference is the significant financial loss that the victims incur, considering the substantial size of a real estate transaction.
Forewarned is forearmed, so before you fall prey, take the time to familiarize yourself with the latest variety of schemes these ne’er do wells have concocted to steal away with your hard-earned money. To help you know what to look for, we will discuss what Arizona land buyers and sellers should be aware of to avoid hoaxes and scams.
Down Payment Hackers
Unlike the banking industry, real estate agents’ communication and information security is relatively non-existent and not regulated in any sense, which takes extreme safeguards to encrypt communications and protect accounts. In addition, agents typically use public wi-fi and free email services, which scammers can quickly hack. As a result, Arizona land buyers and sellers should be aware of hackers who could intercept communications when you work with a real estate agent and exchange emails about your deal. Furthermore, once they have taken over the agent’s email account, your communications may catch their attention, and you may receive fraudulent instructions on where to wire funds for the closing, only to be lost in the dark hole of untraceable overseas accounts.
Arizona land buyers and sellers should be aware of amazingly above-market offers made to string you along, with issue after issue in closing, only to demand the seller agree to a lower than market value sales price, or they will back out of the deal. Initially, the scammers are counting on the excitement of the offer causing a momentary lapse in judgment as they demand a quick signature on the contract before the sellers have an opportunity to read the fine print. The sellers are literally on the hook and will most certainly chase the carrot dangling in front of them for months, looking forward to a considerable profit. As months pass and bills continue to roll in, desperation sets in, and this is when the scammer strikes with their lowball offer.
Arizona land buyers and sellers should know how home title fraud works to avoid the scam. By stealing your identity, fabricated documents make it appear they own your property, and then loans are secured using the equity in your home. Regrettably, many owners who have undergone this process find out about the scheme when the lender begins legal proceedings to procure payment. Often, online transactions and document requests are the openings that these criminals seek to obtain the information they need to take the cash from your equity and walk away. Purchasing title insurance can protect you and your money from this fraudulent activity, as can safeguarding your personal information. Sadly, older people are often the targets of this activity, as they are typically slower to pick up on the signals of an issue and not as technically savvy as younger consumers.
There are fake sellers, real estate agents, and even fake real estate attorneys with sophisticated systems involving several players to fool buyers into believing they have made a legitimate transaction. Likewise, moving companies take advantage by holding your possessions hostage until you meet their demands and pay outrageous fees. To help avoid these hoaxes, Arizona land buyers and sellers should take the time to research the backgrounds of anyone they are doing business with care, including licensing. Another step is reviewing professionals and companies through online sites such as Yelp to get input from other consumers. Finally, another suggestion before you work with anyone in the real estate field, just as you should with mechanics or home repair service providers, is to seek recommendations from trusted friends or other professionals in a related industry. Err on the side of caution and use well-established and reputable providers.