Beware of Real Estate Rental Scams

There has been a lot of talk going around about variations on several real estate scams.  The bottom line in every case amounts to “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  These scams generally revolve around rentals of vacant properties.

Craigslist Rentals. Recently, Jennifer came across an ad on Craigslist for a house rental in Golden Hills.  She went to look at it and thought it would be suitable.  The Craigslist poster made every effort to convince Jennifer that she really did have local knowledge, but Jennifer’s radar went off when the purported “owner” was only willing to communicate by email.

Jennifer Googled the property address and found other rental ads for it by a local well-known rental management company.  She called them and asked if they knew about the Craigslist poster.  They didn’t.  Jennifer flagged the post on Craigslist.

This house has been foreclosed. Another variation we heard about recently involved two men claiming to represent a bank that had foreclosed on the property in question due to lack of insurance since the property was vacant.  These two men told that story to the property owners who just happened to see them from the property next door.  They then said that they were going to change the locks on the house.  When confronted the two men backed down, but what could have happened if no one had been there to confront them?  I’m guessing it wouldn’t have been more than a week or so before a new tenant had moved in!

Steps to take to avoid a scam. There are a number of things you can do to protect yourself from scammers.

  • If you are communicating by email look for these signs: overly polite, frequent misspellings, incorrect grammar, “owner” is out of the country.
  • If you are meeting someone at the property, make sure that person is authorized to rent the property.  This can be tough for the average person to do.   Since you will speak to the representative before you meet at the property, find out who the owner or management company is and then check with them on your own to make sure it’s legit.

If you suspect that you might be dealing with a scammer, call or email me with the Kern County property address and owner’s name and I will do my best to help you verify that you have identified the correct owner.

  • If the agent is offering to have you move in without a contract, it’s probably a scam.  For any term longer than one month, you must have a written contract.
  • If they want you to pay by cash or money order

According to local police, if you run into any kind of real estate scam like those described here, you should report it.  A phone call only takes a few minutes and your information might help catch the people doing this.

There are plenty of other reasons why owning a home is better than renting.  You might want to read about some of those here.  If you are paying rent of $850 per month or more, have a job, and as little as 3.5% of the purchase price for a down payment, you could own your own home worth $150,000 and start saving money on taxes too.

If that sounds interesting to you call, text or email me today and we can figure out what will work for you.

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