Beware Of Craigslist Scams As The Year Ends
Normally I’m only talking about stats, but this month I want to take a minute and remind everyone about real estate scams. One in particular is the Craigslist scam. With over 25% of the homes currently for sale in the Des Moines MLS vacant, it stands to reason that our market is prime for this kind of racket. As a Realtor, it is our responsibility to recognize which of our properties have the potential for being scammed. That’s easier said that done since Craigslist scammers tend to run ads for short terms and remove them so that they are not able to be found.
Here are a few ideas for Realtors to protect their property from being scammed.
- When possible, stage an empty home or if possible, use photos of the property before furniture was removed. This is a company I use to virtually stage homes. http://visualstager.com/
- Set up a Google Alert http://www.google.com/alerts with the property address.
- Include in the public and agent remarks that the home is not For Rent or For Rent To Own.
- If the property is being scammed, contact local law enforcement and place a sign on the property door stating that the home is Not For Rent.
As a consumer, here are some signs to look that could indicate that the Internet ad is fake.
- The rental amount is very affordable compared to the other homes in the area.
- The “owner” is not able to meet you at the property in person. They may give you permission (actually encourage you) to go to the home and look in the windows. They may even suggest that you check the doors to see if they have been left open or for a window that may be unlocked.
- The scammer will instruct you to wire deposit funds (typically first month rent plus deposit) to hold the property with the promise that it is fully refundable.
- Many times the scammer will tell a long story of woe about their situation and that they are out of state. They may even claim to be in the clergy playing on emotions.
- Often an email address and phone number are given, but all calls made to that number instantly go to voicemail and emails are cautiously returned.
- Lastly, go with your gut. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Contact the real estate agent from the yard sign and ask if the home is actually for rent.
Back to statistics! With 30 days left, making year end predictions at this point would be like shooting fish in a barrel. So rather than state the obvious short term predictions, I am going to focus next months newsletter on what I see happening in 2016.
If you are interested in selling your home or purchasing a home, give me a call! I will help you determine your best strategy based on your local market data.