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How to avoid real estate scams like a ninja

How to avoid real estate scams like a ninja

“If a deal is too good to be real, probably it’s not real.”

This is the first thing to have in mind when thinking about purchasing a product from the Internet.

It may sound obvious, but it is not always easy to discover a real estate scam. From recent years, they have become more common as swindlers gain experience about how to take profit of the new technologies and refine their techniques in this illegal practice. Even if companies and authorities put a lot of efforts and resources to control it, customers play an essential role to catch them. You are the ones who really get in touch with this fake ads and need to be prepared.

During my career at Trovit, and after having reviewed thousands of listings, I realized that we can avoid being fraud victims by following some logical tips. 

Most common types of Real Estate scams

  1. Scams from abroad

The advertiser says that he is abroad (or his contact information belongs to a different country) and all the communication has to be done via email. He will probably explain that he is not available to show the property or will promise to send you the keys once the payment in advance is completed. However, it is very likely that he will never show up again after you’ve paid.

Also take an eye on listings that are written in a different language or that have a lot of grammar mistakes. They have probably been translated from the original language.

  1. Unreal prices

Let’s be realistic: if the price is too low to be true, for sure there’s something hidden behind! The advertiser wants to draw your attention so you will choose his property among the other ones because of its “incredible price”.

Doing a market research is a good practice to have an accurate idea regarding the average prices in the real estate sector. Get information about the market, compare prices for each type of property, the area or neighbourhood, the age of the house… This way you will know which prices are realistic and which are not.

  1. Fake listings

Have you found the same listing twice or more times on the same website? That’s suspicious! One of the listings may be fake, and probably it will be the one with the lowest price. Fraud advertisers use to take the information of another listings and modify the prices. Even if duplicated ads are more controlled nowadays, you can always find some cases.

Also take an eye on the listings that are too generic or don’t look real at all. For example, if they don’t offer much information about the property (just a couple of lines and no extra details) it is better to ask the owner for more information and pictures. Images can also be an indicator to detect real estate frauds: if they have been copied directly from the Internet, or look too wonderful to be true, it is better to discard the listings.

  1. Personal information

If the advertiser is asking you for personal information, files or bank details, be careful! They may use this data to do transactions or save your profile in their own database. You don’t want to find an unknown charge in your bank account! Before giving this kind of information, make sure that the advertiser is trustworthy and the property really exists. And if you’re finally going to do the payment, it’s always better to do a transfer yourself.

And all these kinds of frauds can be avoided by following some simple rules! 

paying with card

The 7 golden rules to avoid being a victim of scam:

  1. Make sure that the seller is trustworthy. Don’t trust in advertisers who can’t talk on the phone with excuses.
  2. Do the consultations personally, face to face.
  3. Ask to see the property by yourself (not only in pictures) and check the real status of the house.
  4. Don’t pay anything if you haven’t seen the property.
  5. Don’t send money in advance through the bank, Western Union or another service. Neither as a signal, reservation or another different reason.
  6. Don’t give your personal data or banking details such as credit card information.
  7. Ask the advertiser to do the deal through a real estate agent, who you can sign a contract with.

Have you found a possible scam listing at Trovit? Report us the case to our email and we will review it!


Digital Marketing Specialist

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  1. Eugenia Briscoe

    21 March

    You did not mention hire a Lawyer who can read the complicated details one is sure to find on a contract.

  2. Dolores Courtney

    5 April

    Is it normal practise for advertisers in Spain to request a passport number prior to giving the exact address of real estate?

  3. Janna Carmell

    27 April

    Make SURE that the person showing you the home for sale is ACTUALLY the owner. As a real estate agent in Florida I visited a nice couple who wanted to sell their house. In doing my research, it turned out that the house was owned by the woman and her sister (who was not present). This couple actually thought they could scam the sister out of her half of the house via a quick sale.

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