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Tips to avoid being the victim of a residential real estate scam

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Homebuying

If you haven’t purchased or sold a home in some years, or if this is your first such transaction, you might be surprised at just how sophisticated some real estate scammers can be. Residential real estate transactions in this part of Illinois can easily run well into six figures and higher. That’s a big incentive for those who aren’t above stealing from innocent people.

Even experienced real estate agents and brokers can be victims of these scams as well as hacking of their websites. No matter how cautious you are about potential scams, it’s wise to be aware of things you can do to avoid some of the most common residential real estate scams.

Stick with valid real estate listing sites

Homes being sold by legitimate sellers and real estate agents are rarely listed on Craigslist or Facebook – at least not solely in these places. Even if you’re simply looking at what’s available out there, stick to sites like Realtor.com, Zillow and those belonging to well-known real estate companies. There should be a multiple listing service (MLS) number and the name of a licensed agent.

Check out a home buying service carefully before you sign over your home

If you need to sell your home quickly or maybe inherited a home you don’t want to spend any time or money fixing up before you sell it, a “house flipping” company can help you out. Many are legitimate, but some aren’t. Do your research before you even contact them.

Be careful when wiring funds

A lot of monetary transactions involved in buying a home are done online now. If you’re wiring a down payment, the full price of the home (if you’re paying cash) or other large amount of money, be sure you’re working directly with your agent or an escrow professional. Don’t wire money to any account number not given to you directly by someone you know and trust. Never give your bank account or credit card number over the phone unless you’re certain of whom you’re speaking to.

Relying on trusted real estate as well as legal professionals can help you avoid becoming the victim of a costly scam. It can also help the transaction proceed more smoothly.