When you’re inquiring about a product or service you’re unfamiliar with, it’s sometimes hard to identify whether you’re working with a professional or someone pretending to know what they’re doing. Usually, things like this happen when you’re inquiring about an expensive purchase like insurance, a car, or real estate.
Con artists and scammers are people who are good at pretending they’re professionals in a profession. Some can even relay legitimate information but illegally take your money and funds. It’s unfortunate to encounter or work with one, especially if you’re looking into buying your first real estate property.
Sadly, many people are pretending to be real estate agents and are promoting fake listings. The thing is, it’s easy now for con artists to be believable because of technology. It’s harder now to identify and verify whether you’re negotiating with a legitimate real estate agent. If you’re planning to buy a property, here are seven signs you could be dealing with a real estate agent con.
1 – The agent knows your information without you providing any details from related real estate companies
Digital scams are widespread today. Unfortunately, social media and internet use are ways for scammers to steal people’s data. Scammers likely have your information if you’re receiving promotional texts from unknown numbers that use your name.
If you know that you haven’t subscribed to or are not a customer of any other service company, and you suddenly receive a call from a “real estate agent,” I’d recommend being cautious. Even after inquiring about a property and the “agent” claims they got your information from a referral list, don’t give away any information.
Avoid entertaining calls or messages from unknown numbers, especially if you haven’t given any information to a company or person you’ve consulted prior.
2 – They’re asking for your financial information and details in the early stages of inquiring
Another sign you’re working with a con is when an agent requests your information and accounts. If a real estate agent immediately asks for your financial information and details like bank type, account number, and account type, you should be wary already.
Of course, when a professional real estate agent can tell that you’re serious and are a potential buyer, they’ll ask about your financial options. But they’ll never request or ask for your confidential bank details. Also, be careful of real estate agent scams that provide you with financing forms in the early stages of inquiry.
Don’t provide your confidential details without seeing the property first, verifying your agent’s license, and reviewing all the legal documents from the agent.
3 – The agent refuses to meet personally
Even though many transactions and deals are now done digitally or over the phone, you should always negotiate massive purchases like real estate personally. There may not be a law for this, but for your safety and peace of mind, never close a deal digitally or via phone only.
One of the obvious signs you’re working with a con is when they’re always refusing to meet personally. If an agent is always down to entertain you via phone communication only, it’s a sign that you should end the deal. It’s a waste of time only discussing a real estate property over the phone and not seeing it in person.
4 – They’re always re-scheduling your ocular visit requests
This fourth sign is similar to my previous point. As a client, you must remember that your real estate agent is as eager as you to close a deal. Why? Because they get commissions for closing a deal. And those commissions are the heart of their profession because it’s often hefty.
If the agent you’re negotiating with is frequently unavailable and always says that the property is unavailable for ocular, it could be a sign that you’re dealing with a con. Remember that one of the critical parts of a real estate deal is the ocular visit. Why? Because that’s when an agent and client could determine whether they’d like to pursue the property.
I’d recommend looking for a new agent if the one you’re dealing with doesn’t let you see the property in real life.
5 – The agent is refusing to give you his license number
In most negotiations, asking for the other party’s confidential details is inappropriate. But in a real estate inquiry, it’s normal and courtesy for the client to build trust with his agent. After all, you’re inquiring and considering buying an expensive property.
In most cases, a real estate agent would first offer you his license number to prove that he’s the best person to help you in your property hunting. If you’re asking for their license number during your initial meetings, and they’re refusing to share it with you, it’s a sign that they could be a con.
6 – The agent only seems to give you the same information repetitively without giving you a clear answer regarding your concerns.
I mentioned in my introduction that many “real estate agent” cons are deceiving in what they do. But others seem believable until you notice that you’re only going around in circles throughout your inquiries. If you observe that the agent only gives you the same answers in different wordings, I’d suggest ending the deal immediately.
Again, professional real estate agents earned their licenses because they’re knowledgeable in what they do. Also, they’re the best people who can give you the latest information regarding real estate queries. If that’s something your agent can’t provide you, it’s a sign that they could be a con.
7 – They’re offering you an unreasonable price for the property
Lastly is when the value of the real estate property is unjustifiable compared to other properties like it on the market. Some scammers are experts in what they do. And sometimes, the only way you can tell that they’re conning you is when they give you the property’s price.
That’s why before you buy a property, review the price range of properties on the market. If an agent offers you a property for an unreasonable rate, it could be a sign that they’re a scam.
Be cautious and vigilant when inquiring about a real estate property.
Con artists are everywhere. And sometimes, no matter how careful you are, you can still work with one. But you can always do something to avoid being conned. You can start by watching these seven signs and knowing to say no to a deal when your gut tells you to.
About the author:
Bianca Banda is a writer for Bennett Property, one of the largest and most successful real estate agencies offering a full range of property services, including sales, leasing and development.
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