A common real estate scam that involves online listings usually results from people lifting these listings and selling the home they don’t own.
In one case last year in the United States, a man who had his home for sale was surprised to find a woman on his doorstep one day, expecting to pick up the keys to her new rental. The woman had already wired a deposit to the scammer before seeing the house in person or picking up the keys, but the ad had stated the home was for rent by the owner, and used the owner’s real name.
The actual, real-live owner had already noticed that the home was being listed for rent in an ad on Craigslist and asked them to take it down several times before someone actually showed up to his house to no avail. A news video about this story is available here.
To many, buying or renting property sight unseen seems like a bad idea. And it should, but it still happens even when something seems to good to be true. Victims of these types of scams have little-to-no recourse and rarely if ever get their money back. Usually, the scammer is located in a foreign country and has used fake information to collect the money, which cannot be traced.
The scams go both ways, too. If you’re renting out your home, you should be aware of the following red flags:
If you can’t contact the person by phone, are offered extra money (that you are asked to wire back) or a few months rent up front, it might be best to do more research on your future tenants. E-mails that begin with “Sir” or “Madam” and that reference Western Union or cashiers cheques or wanting to move in sight unseen are usually scams.
Home sellers can home buyers can protect themselves throughout the real estate transaction process by utilizing the services and experience of a Central Toronto real estate agent. If you are planning on renting your home – or a room in your home – check out the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s guide for landlords and evaluating future tenants before anything gets signed.