Whether selling a home independently or through an agent, the process seems never-ending. When a buyer pops up, you want to sell and walk away. You feel as if you accomplished something, and you deserve to enjoy your profit and move on. However, several common real estate scams could turn your celebration into a nightmare. Set some simple and precautionary guidelines for yourself, such as never paying cash or wiring money, always working with agents
recommended by family/friends, and avoiding the following red flags to ensure a legitimate and prosperous transaction.
If a realtor represents both the seller and buyer, where does the loyalty lie? The conflict of interest allows the agent
to act in his/her best interest instead of yours. In the most common legal arrangements, designated sides handle negotiations and provide the best guidance on how to proceed. However, a dual agent's goals clash and therefore limits his/her power. One party always walks away feeling unsatisfied, and it's usually the seller
. Because an agent's cut comes from the sale price, the higher the final cost, the higher their commission percentage.
In title fraud, con artists usually pick a vacant property (though sometimes choose a residential one). They assume the homeowner's identity by finding pertinent information on the internet, creating fake identification cards, and forging the real owner's signature on deed transfer forms. Forms are easily downloaded off your state's website. The scammer can now sell your home and pocket the profit. Be vigilant as a seller by double checking everything on file in your county's deed office. If you notice unfamiliar paperwork or signatures, contact the local authorities immediately.
Companies target homeowners facing foreclosure
and offer modified mortgage arrangements to lure them in. Some agencies even set up credible websites to fool you. Stay alert and flee from the following warning signals: upfront or advance fees, redirected payments, guaranteed protection, or access to bank account numbers. Authentic counseling agencies pledge to do their best; they provide no guarantee and never pressure you into releasing personal information. So if a company's promise sounds too good to be true, it is. Photo courtesy of Fontaine Family