The real estate world has always been a place where criminals hope to make an easy buck.
Real estate transactions involve a lot of money changing hands, which makes them a key target.
A West Knoxville home is a large investment. When you think about buying or selling a home, you want to be sure that you protect yourself.
In this post, we’ll outline some of the most common real estate scams so that you don’t get fooled by one of these West Knoxville real estate scams.
Wire fraud is one of the most common West Knoxville real estate scams. Wire fraud can happen very easily and when does it happen, it can be very costly to the victim.
Here’s how wire fraud can play out:
In each case of wire fraud, someone involved in the transaction gets hacked through email. A buyer, seller, realtor, mortgage company or title company may have their email hacked without realizing it. The hacker will monitor their email and look for pertinent details about the transaction.
Wire fraud affecting a buyer happens when a buyer gets instructions to wire funds to a place other than the title company. Usually, a buyer will receive an email from either the title company or their realtor asking them to wire the funds somewhere other than where they may have previously been told. This email often appears authentic because it’s coming from a realtor or title company’s email. When buyer wires the money, it goes to the wrong place, leaving the buyer out of thousands of dollars.
As a seller, the situation is similar. The title company or realtor will get an email indicating that they should wire the funds to a certain place. The email appears authentic because it comes from the seller’s email. So, after closing, the title company wires the funds, only to find out they’ve gone to the wrong place.
Avoid This Scam: Since wire fraud can appear so real and authentic, it’s important that you pay attention to details in your real estate transaction. Know your contacts and how they will be contacting you during the transaction. If you receive a change of instructions at the last minute, be sure to follow up at the last minute. The best way to avoid wire fraud is to be extremely vigilant about checking and double-checking the details. Before sending a wire or sending your wiring instructions, be sure to make a call confirm.
Fake rentals are another really common real estate scam. These scams happen more than many people think and the listings can appear to be so real they can be extremely easy to fall for.
This scam goes down like this:
You find this fabulous rental on Craigslist. It’s huge. It allows pets. It’s so nice. And, it’s got a great backyard for your dogs. And, the price, you’ve been searching for so long and this listing is unreal. You contact the landlord about renting it, but you only correspond via email or phone. The landlord makes some excuse that they’re in another state or country, which is why you never meet them
They ask you to send a deposit (and sometimes a month’s rent) and once they get it, they’ll let you know where the key is hidden. They’ll say it’s hidden somewhere around the house, but when you go and look for it, it’s nowhere to be found. The reality is the scammer has picked a vacant home that’s listed. They pull the photos from the internet and list it like it’s a rental on Craigslist. Once you’ve realized this, your deposit is nowhere to be found and neither is the scammer.
Avoid This Scam: When you’re looking at rentals online, be sure that you’re smart and you know who you’re dealing with. The best way to do this is by asking to view the property prior to renting it. A scammer will not be able to get you into the home. If you’re unable to do this, be sure you look into who really owns the home. A quick Google search of the property address will show you if it’s listed for sale. If you’re seeing the same pictures online, that should raise a huge red flag.
Finally, deed scams are another popular real estate scam. At closing, you’ll sign off on the Warranty Deed. After closing, the deed will be sent to the Register’s Office to be recorded. Then, it will be sent back to the title company you closed with and sent out to you a few weeks later. Unfortunately, many buyers forget this and this is why they fall victim to the deed scam.
Here is how the deed scam plays out:
You’ll receive a letter in the mail offering to send you a copy of your Warranty Deed and other property information. In exchange, the company will ask for some money, roughly between $80 and $90. The letter appears to be legitimate and even has some information identifying the property.
If you’re like most buyers, you may fall for it. You may unsure of how you get a copy of your deed and know it’s an important document. So, you happily write a check in response to the letter. Later, you realize that you don’t actually have to pay for a copy of the deed, since the original is mailed to you after closing at no charge. Or, you’re able to get a certified copy from the Register’s Office for just a few dollars.
Later, you realize that you don’t actually have to pay for a copy of the deed, since the original is mailed to you after closing at no charge. Or, you’re able to get a certified copy from the Register’s Office for just a few dollars.
How To Avoid This: You should be told at closing when you’ll receive your Warranty Deed. But, if you don’t remember, be sure to contact your title company. You will never receive a notification in the mail about getting a copy of the deed, it’s part of your closing costs to receive the original copy.
Real estate scams take all different shapes and sizes. As a West Knoxville buyer or seller, you must always be wary. When something seems to good to be true or an unknown source asks for money, be sure that you take the steps to double check the source.
To keep up with the latest ongoing scams and fraud in Tennessee, you can visit the TN Scam and Fraud Alerts Page, that is maintained by the State of Tennessee.
Are you interested in buying or selling a West Knoxville home this year? If so, please do not hesitate to let us know. Rick can be contacted at 865-696-9002 or via email at [email protected]. Kati can be contacted at 865-696-1888 or via email at [email protected]
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