Updated: Sep 15
I wanted to get this out there quickly because it involves a scam. It is important to read this even if you are not a real estate agent because some of the same techniques used here are used in other scams that specifically target the public.
There is a newer real estate scam involving vacant lots. The scam artists target unsuspecting Brokers and Agents and entice them by impersonating a property owner who is interested in listing their lot but, in reality, these scammers are neither the property owner nor do they have any connection to the property.
NAR's Senior Counsel & Director of Legal Affairs recently stated that the biggest giveaway is that the scammer will be very aggressive, asking the listing broker to market the property for less than the market value.
They go on to say that the scammer will say they prefer cash offers and have a very short timeframe. Usually, they say they have some sort of "family crisis" or something to create that sense of urgency. So, by the time people realize what is happening, the fraud has gone far enough and money has been "exchanged" and wired overseas.
Other cues that were cited as red flags to watch out for are:
The seller or buyer claims they can't meet in person and must do everything by email.
Claims to have a family emergency and needs quick cash, and will accept substantially less than full price if they close in a very short time.
Email addresses or phone numbers are from another country.
Photo IDs (e.g., driver's licenses, passports) are barely legible.
The seller doesn't want a due diligence period and/or low or no earnest money combined with a quick closing.
Seems unwilling to perform the contract terms or is not returning paperwork.
Becomes angry and applies pressure to make sure the deal goes through.
I want to warn you to be on the lookout for these fraudulent activities. If you are in the market for a vacant lot, please do your due diligence and thoroughly research the property and seller. The best thing you can do is to consult your broker or another qualified real estate agent if you suspect anything suspicious. Do not be swayed by offers that seem too good to be true.
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