Whether you are buying, renting, selling, or already own your home, it’s important to stay vigilant and ensure you don’t fall victim to scams. Scammers are creative and not to be underestimated! Therefore, it’s crucial to stay informed. Real estate scams are common and can play out in several ways.
Title or Deed Scams
Title and deed scams are when someone illegally transfers a property title without the knowledge or consent of the homeowner. Homeowners could lose their homes if the fraudulent owner tries to sell or rent their property.
However, don’t be alarmed by this information – there are steps to take to protect your property. The key is to monitor your credit info and watch out for missing bills since that could indicate a stolen deed. If you own a rental property, someone you trust should be in charge of managing it. Georgia residents now also have access to the free title/deed monitoring service called F.A.N.S., which you can read more about here: https://www.eklawllc.com/title-theft/
Wire Transfer Fraud
There are two main types of wire fraud, escrow wire fraud and mortgage wire fraud. Wire fraud is when a scammer pretends to be a real estate agent or closing firm and manipulates the homeowner into wiring funds to a fake account. Escrow and Mortgage fraud are similar: a scammer contacts the prospective buyer using a similar email to the real estate agent or broker to manipulate them into wiring the closing costs to a fake account.
To prevent this, homeowners should use a secure payment method previously established in the home-buying process and always confirm with the agent before sending a wire transfer.
Edge & Kimbell provides a secure portal for our clients to make closing costs deposits. You can find that here: https://www.eklawllc.com/emd/
Fake Real Estate Posting
Most people start the rental or buying process nowadays by using online tools. Scammers will post pictures of properties they have no affiliation with or don’t exist, attempting to trick people into sending them payments.
A simple way to prevent this is to see the property for yourself in-person or have a friend/family member visit if you don’t live where the property is located before sending any payments. Also, if the rent seems like too good of a deal, double-check the images for watermarks and trust your gut.
Taking advantage of what is already a delicate and unfortunate time for homeowners, criminals “offer help” by modifying loans or even stopping foreclosure for an upfront fee. Instead of doing the promised, scammers flee with the payments, leaving the homeowner facing foreclosure and in a tougher financial situation.
These types of scammers prey on the vulnerable, like the elderly or those whose first language isn’t English. The best way to prevent this is to research the company or attorney offering help. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can connect you with an accredited counselor.
Even though scams are scary, don’t let this discourage you from achieving your dream of being a homeowner! The help of trusted real estate lawyers, like the team at Edge & Kimbell, can make homeownership a little less scary. Contact us today to securely and safely purchase your property.