Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed While House Hunting

Bernard Reynolds
Published Jul 4, 2024

House hunting is exciting because it opens the possibility of finding the perfect home for yourself and your family.

However, it is important to be aware that some unscrupulous people may be looking to take advantage of this process.

Here are some tips to help you avoid being scammed when house hunting:


Work With a Trusted Real Estate Agent

An experienced real estate agent helps navigate house hunting, identifies scams, informs legal requirements, and red flags.

Research, referrals, and online reviews help find trustworthy agents.

Check their active license and local expertise.

Stay updated on market changes to avoid scams like rent-to-own schemes and excessive payments.


Be Wary of Unsolicited Offers

The best way to avoid being scammed when house hunting is to be suspicious of any unsolicited offers that come your way.

Be especially wary if the offer seems too good to be true – it probably is.

If someone claims they are offering you a home at a fraction of market value, this might indicate something isn't quite right.

Some scammers may use the tactic of sending out mass emails or messages in an attempt to draw in unsuspecting victims.

Don't be afraid to ask questions and research the offer before you agree to anything.


Always Check the Seller's Credentials

Before agreeing to purchase, make sure you have verified the seller's credentials.

Ask them for proof of home ownership and check with your local assessor's office to ensure the property is listed in their name.

If you are dealing with a bank or other financial institution, check to ensure they are a legitimate lender.

Common credentials checks to help verify a seller's identity include getting a copy of their driver's license, checking public records for bankruptcies or court judgments, verifying Social Security numbers with the Social Security Administration, and obtaining signed tax forms.


Be Cautious When Paying Deposits or Fees

Be wary of any requests to pay large deposits or fees before committing to purchasing a home.

Legitimate sellers typically will not ask for large sums of money upfront; if they do, this could be a sign that something is wrong.

Additionally, never send cash or cryptocurrency to anyone, as these methods are untraceable and can be easily stolen.

Instead, pay with a credit card, check or money order as this can help you track payments and provide protection if something goes wrong.

Additionally, these payment methods are typically more secure than cash, as they are harder to steal or counterfeit.


Avoid Middlemen and Other Third Parties

When house hunting, deal directly with the seller or their agent.

Avoid third-party intermediaries with unknown intentions.

Legitimate sellers communicate directly and provide necessary paperwork.

Research thoroughly if offered by a middleman, understand their role, and inquire about contracts before agreeing to anything.

Be Cautious of Online Scams

The internet can be a great resource when house hunting, but it can also be a breeding ground for scammers.

If you come across an online listing that seems too good to be true or does not provide any contact information, be aware that this could be a scam.

Always research the home and seller before committing to a purchase, and never hand over any money until you are certain the deal is legitimate.

Following these tips can help ensure your house-hunting experience is positive.

Though it may seem daunting initially, researching and being aware of potential scams can help you avoid unpleasant surprises.

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