Real Estate Hoaxes and Scams
Real estate has proved to be one of the most thriving industries in our economy and because of this it has become prone to con artists who prey on unsuspecting property buyers, sellers, landlords, tenants and agents. Outlined below is a summary of the different trending scams and hoaxes that have taken the industry by storm and we also highlight how best one can easily identify and avoid falling into these traps.
Unfortunately many prospective tenants have fallen prey to the many bogus agents that have mushroomed all over the place who misrepresent themselves by either advertising properties that do not exist or properties that they do not have a mandate to advertise. While the purpose of technology is to make our lives much easier for this is also inclusive of these scammers who now have easy access to what is readily available on the market. The following are some of the pointers that can alert people of these bogus agents:
- Asking for non refundable deposit to view properties
- When rental value is too good to be true
- Being told that they cannot get a hold of the property owners
- Being pressurised to pay for the property without the proper vetting processes or filling in any paperwork under the guise that many people want to pay for the property. The payments are usually requested via ecocash or textacash accounts
- Unavailability of the "agent" after initial contact
We strongly urge tenants to search for accommodation timeously in order to avoid the element of desperation. There is the old adage that says "desperate times call for desperate measures and indeed desperation leads into making hasty decisions by taking unnecessary shortcuts which will undoubtedly cost them while giving these bogus agents ammunition to thrive in our market.
These hoaxes and scams are not only limited to the rental aspect of real estate but they have also extended to unsuspecting buyers and sellers of property. Outlined below are some pointers that should raise red flags when processing a sale:
- When selling price is too good to be true When agent/seller refuses to disclose location of offices or when they are of no fixed abode
- When the agent/seller go AWOL on request of paperwork of the property in question
- Inconsistency in the paperwork i.e. land size, description registered owners etc
- When a seller demands for funds to be deposited directly into their account without the involvement of a reputable lawyer to handle the transaction. When immense pressure is put on the buyer to sign agreement of sale and make payment as soon as possible.
The above are only but a few of the hoaxes and scams currently being practiced as there are new tricks concocted on a daily basis for the purpose of preying on the unsuspecting. We would therefore like to urge everyone to practice due diligence and patience when it comes to property transactions in order to avoid being the prey to these ruthless predators.
Author: Seeff Zimbabwe