Scams no longer take place solely on email and by phone. Billions of people worldwide use social media, which unfortunately provides the perfect grouping of unsuspecting victims for scammers. While many post on social media daily, the majority of users have difficulty spotting scams before they’ve been compromised—and within the real estate space, users can lose out on more than just data, risking not only their safety, but their belongings and money, as well.
Here’s what consumers should look out for on social media:
Fake Listings and Rentals
There’s a reason for the saying, “It’s too good to be true.” Oftentimes, consumers see a rental or listing for an incredible, low price. While the photos may look great on Facebook and Instagram, this should be the biggest indicator that the property may not be legitimate. Where renters or buyers have to be most wary is communicating with the “agent” or “owner” who posted the listing. If there are any requests to wire funds up front, or for sensitive information such as Social Security numbers before even seeing the property, consumers should walk away and report the incident to the police.
This is where working with a vetted real estate agent comes in handy. Agents can help consumers determine if a listing is legitimate or if it appears to be a scam. Additionally, agents work with other licensed agents who are listing rentals or properties for sale, ensuring transactions and all involved parties are valid and safe. By working with unvetted online leads, consumers put themselves at risk.
Scammers Impersonating Real Estate Agents
This can go both ways. With social media, it can be difficult to vet an individual. Anyone can go online and say he or she is a real estate agent. Social media users today need to be savvy when hiring someone. Here are some red flags to look for when people claim to be real estate agents on social media:
- No formal business page
- A lack of online reviews
- No link to a website with their license number
- No references to real estate on their social media pages
- An unwillingness to meet in person
In essence, consumers should never meet someone in person without first identifying who they’re speaking with. Furthermore, money should never change hands before a property viewing and until legitimate contracts are involved.
Most real estate agents use social media these days to stay in contact with past clients and reach new ones. Unfortunately, there are also some real estate scammers looking to take advantage of people online. Before working with someone found on social media, consumers should do research to ensure a person or company is legitimate.