Property Scams Are Real! Three Ways to Avoid It

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In 2019, a couple who wanted to move badly to Tasmania spotted a real estate deal they couldn’t resist. A supposed officer from the Australian Defence Force offered them a property for rent. They only had to pay a bond of $2,000.

It turns out everything was a sham. While the property exists, the fictitious seller didn’t have any right to offer it to anybody. By the time they realised it, they already lost something. Avoid being part of the statistics and pay attention to these tips:

1. Always Deal with Legitimate Professionals

How did the scam happen? The scammer stole other people’s listing and published it as their own. To attract (perhaps the better term is ‘bait’) buyers, they may offer the property at a much lower price.

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell properties, contact a broker or an agent. When you’re ready to close a deal, look for settlement lawyers who can help you and understand the property market.

As a buyer or seller, you have the right to ask for credentials. You may also interview them, asking them the following questions:

  • How long have they been doing their job or business?
  • What kind of properties do they excel in selling? (Some may specialise in commercial or industrial facilities. Others may work with for-rent than for-sale properties.)
  • How much is the cost of the service?
  • Can you provide some recommendations or people who can vouch for your reputation or track record?

2. Improve Your Credit Score

Many buyers who unfortunately fall into real estate scams don’t have the best credit score. Thus, they cannot qualify for a favourable mortgage – one with lower interest rates and extended payment terms. They may not be eligible to apply to any lender either.

If they’re lucky to find a lender, they may need to pay more than 20% down payment or settle for a high-interest rate, making the property even less affordable.

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It will work to your advantage if you improve your credit score so you can have access to better housing loans:

  • Monitor your credit score. You can get a report from any of the three credit bureaus in Australia: Experian, Illion, and Equifax. While doing this won’t raise your score, you can have a general idea on what lenders see when they receive your report.
  • Pay your dues on time. Doing this raises your score and gives the impression that you’re a responsible debtor.
  • Do it as soon as you can. You cannot raise your score in a few weeks. Sometimes it takes months or even years, so the sooner you can start, the better. Otherwise, if you can have an excellent track record for at least a year, you can negotiate your application with the lender.

3. Get to Know the Property

Better property knowledge will go a long way in spotting a scam and preventing a buyer’s remorse:

  • Determine the property prices within the area. There are many ways to set a price for a home or property; these could include an initial assessment or the market value. Either way, the property offered to you should not be extremely low than the average rates in the area.
  • Inspect the property. Not all low-priced properties are scams, but it could mean that the seller is desperate to get rid of it. It could be because it needs a lot of repair or maintenance. The bank may about to foreclose it, or it’s in a bad location. By seeing it, you can better decide if it’s worth the price.

You cannot get rid of property scammers, but you can outsmart them. Make sure you observe their actions and listen to them well, so you would know when you’re being scammed.

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