Over 90% of home hunters utilize the internet during their search. There is no doubt the web is a powerful and effective tool (See: Top 10 Apps for Home Buyers), however there are some warning signs to look out for.
1. Unavailable Sellers: If the property you've found on your web search is listed by an individual as opposed to a real estate agency, proceed with caution. In most cases these listings are legitimiate, however in the technological age we live in, it is easy for scammers to capitalize on unsuspecting web browsers. Craigslist is one outlet that has been riddled with such threats; scammers post photos of properties they don't own at below market prices to lure buyers. If a seller is legitimate and serious about selling their property, they will make themselves available and will want you to view their home. If you have begun communicating via email and you sense something is off, abandon the pursuit and move on.
2. Always View The Property: NEVER agree to a sale or down payment without first touring the property, preferably with a professional. Scammers will push you to wire money promising that their deal won't last and that you must act now. This is a red flag and classic tactic. You must see the property and have the proper inspections completed before agreeing to any sort of money transfer.
3. Be Cautious Wiring Funds: You should never agree to transfer funds to a seller you are unfamiliar with. Be even more leery if you are asked for money right away after inquiring on a property. If a seller is legitimate, they will understand protocol and be willing to work with you.
4. You Can't Get Something for Nothing: As the old saying goes- if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Rely on your common sense and trust your instincts when house hunting on the web. If you're unsure whether a listing is legitimate, seek help! We would be happy to follow up on listings you are unsure of; the help of an experienced Realtor will prove extremely useful during your search.