Tagged: real estate Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Geebo 9:01 am on May 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , real estate, ,   

    Smart rental service allows scammers to rent houses they don’t own 

    Smart rental service allows scammers to rent houses they don't own

    We’ve discussed rental service Rently before on this blog. Basically, they are a service that allows rental properties to be seen by prospective renters without anyone having to be there. While it sounds like an idea of great convenience on paper, it’s allowed scammers to take advantage of renters.

    For example, in Indiana, a family found themselves out of $1700 after they thought they had legitimately rented a home that they found on craigslist. That’s not to say there weren’t warning signs. The fake renter claimed he was out-of-town for a wedding but gave the family the access code to the lockbox which contained the keys to the property. Due to the fact that the family had access to the keys, they felt like this transaction was on the level. They then wired the money to the phony seller. As it turns out, it’s not exactly difficult to get the keys from a Rently lockbox. According to a local news report, all you need to do is answer a few questions in order to gain access to the lockbox. What you can do with the keys after that is up to your imagination. Their introduction video from their website even mentions that their service could be vulnerable to scammers.

    The video also notes that anyone wishing to gain access to a property needs to have a valid credit or debit card, however, that can be easily circumvented.

    While the idea of Rently sounds great in theory, there are too many ways to exploit the service to make it a viable alternative to having a real estate agent or property manager show someone around the home. When security is sacrificed in the name of convenience, you don’t really have either.

     
  • Geebo 9:37 am on May 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, ,   

    Craigslist scammer steals entire home 

    Craigslist scammer steals entire home

    We’ve discussed many real estate scams on this blog for the past couple of years. The most common one is when a home is listed for rent on craigslist by someone who doesn’t actually own the property. Usually, this is done to try to fleece prospective renters out of some kind of deposit or background check fee. More recently. we’ve heard of a scam that not only takes the cake, but it takes the whole house.

    In Missouri City, Texas, a couple was looking to put their home on the market. They were approached by a woman claiming to be a realtor. The homeowners signed something they thought was giving the woman permission to be their realtor. Instead, what they actually signed was a document that allegedly turned ownership of the home to the realtor for free.

    “These people changed our deed. They had got a power of attorney over our home, all the forms were notarized, but we’ve never been in front of a notary, never signed paperwork. Everything they’ve done was fraudulent.”

    To make matters worse, the alleged phony realtor listed the home for rent on craigslist and was able to lease it out to someone else who has since moved into the home. So far, no criminal charges have been filed but police are investigating.

    Trying to sell a home is hard enough without having to deal with scammers and con artists. If you’re approached by a realtor unsolicited, many states have a Real Estate Commission website where you can check to see if the realtor is legitimate.

     
  • Geebo 9:11 am on March 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3d printed home, real estate   

    Could 3D printed homes help the housing crisis? 

    Could 3D printed homes help the housing crisis?

    It’s no secret that there is a housing crisis not just here in the US but around the world. Too many families worldwide do not have access to affordable or sustainable housing. Now, a proof of concept home has been developed that its developers are hoping to help end that crisis. Recently, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Austin, Texas, two companies joined together to present what they refer to as a 3D printed home.

    ICON is a company that has developed a machine that is basically a 3D mobile printer that lays out a home in concrete. They’ve partnered with a non-profit called New Story whose goal it is to build homes in developing nations. Together, they’ve developed a 600 square foot concrete home that can be built for less than $10,000. The companies are hoping to get the cost down to about $4,000 in future developments.

    While the houses may not be the most palatial they could go a long way in helping people. Shelter is one of the most basic human needs and with a project like this many of those struggling could afford the dignity to be able to call someplace home that’s inexpensive but still sturdy. This endeavor has great potential and more projects like this need to come out of Silicon Valley instead of yet another social app.

     
  • Geebo 9:08 am on March 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , deadbolt, real estate,   

    Scam victim living in house illegally 

    Scam victim living in house illegally

    A man in Colorado is living in a house illegally after falling victim to a rental scam. The man found a home for rent on craigslist and wired $3000 to the people claiming to be the landlords. In return, the ‘landlords’ were able to give the man the access code to the home’s deadbolt. This is not unlike a similar scam we posted about back in November where scammers were hacking the electronic lockboxes used by realtors

    Once the victim in this case realized he had been scammed he contacted police, but now he may find himself out on the street. He asked the rental company if there was any way he could stay there but the company wants him off the premises. Again, it appears that the weak link in the security is the electronic deadbolt used by the rental company. As shown in the video below, many of these types of locks can be hacked remotely.

    However, as I’m sure you’ve surmised by now, the first mistake made in this unfortunate story was the victim wiring the money to someone before seeing the home. When dealing with sites that are a haven for scammers like craigslist, you should never wire money to anybody you don’t know personally. Not only could that money be received anywhere in the world, but it’s almost impossible to get the money back once it’s been transferred. While we hope this man lands on his feet, let his story serve as a cautionary tale to others when using unscrupulous classified sites.

     
  • Geebo 9:58 am on December 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, , Santa Barbara,   

    Craigslist used in multi-million dollar real estate scam 

    Craigslist used in multi-million dollar real estate scam

    Real estate scams are nothing new for craigslist. They’ve been going on for almost as long as the website has been around. As we’ve detailed in the past, the way these scams normally work is someone posts an ad for a property for rent at a price often deemed too good to be true. The scammer then usually offers some excuse as to why they can’t show the home and asks for some kind of deposit or application fee. Then it turns out that they don’t even own the property. However, a couple from California were recently indicted in federal court for exploiting people for millions of dollars using a new twist on the old scam.

    49-year-old Michael Davenport and 51-year-old Cynthia Rawlinson of Santa Barbara, California have been indicted in federal court for running a real estate scam that allegedly bilked thousands of people out of close to $27 million. How the scam is said to have worked is that the pair, doing business under several company names such as MDSQ Productions, LLC, Housing Standard, LLC, Anchor House Financial, American Standard, American Standard Online, and Your American Standard, would post ads on craigslist about properties for sale and rent at bargain prices. Once someone would inquire about the property they would be told that they would have to purchase the company’s list of properties. The problem with the list was that many of the properties were not owned by any of the companies and some were even said to be non-existent. This scam is said to have gone on for seven years before any charges were finally brought against the alleged scammers.

    This really should come as no surprise as when one thinks of committing real estate scams the first place they probably think of pulling it off is craigslist. Due to the fact that craigslist never seems to review their ads for potential fraud, nor doesn’t appear to do anything else to dissuade fraudulent ads, it makes craigslist the perfect breeding ground for scams large and small.

     
  • Geebo 9:59 am on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, ,   

    Rental scam continues to claim victims 

    Rental scam continues to claim victims

    Normally, we only post about online scams when either a new one turns up or there’s a new twist on an old scam. Unfortunately, consumers are still falling for one of the oldest online scams in the virtual book. So we thought we’d take another look at the old standby, the rental scam.

    For those who may not know, the rental scam works like this. The scammer will find a house for sale, usually on the site of a reputable realtor. They’ll then copy that ad then change it from a property being for sale to one that’s for rent. They’ll then follow this up by posting their fake ad on an unmodertaed classifieds site like craigslist. The rent will also be listed at below market values. When a consumer responds to the ad, the scammer will try to collect some kind of upfront fee, usually disguised as a rental application fee or some kind of deposit. Usually, the scammers will make some kind of excuse as to why they can’t show you the home while still asking you for money. These scams are usually designed to prey on those who are desperate to resolve a housing situation crisis in their lives.

    Recently, in Memphis, Tennessee, a scammer was able to con several people out of hundreds of dollars each for a property they did not own. The alleged scammer was said to have used the very same tactics we posted above. This is not an uncommon occurrence as it happens all over the country all the time. For example, here’s a similar report out of the Tampa, Florida area.

    In order to avoid these scams we first recommend not using unmoderated classifieds site as they’re not reviewing ads for possible fraud. Secondly, if the rent seems too good to be true it probably is. Don’t ever give money to someone without being able to walk through the property. If the seller claims to be out of the area, pass on the property. Always check with the county appraiser’s website or office to see if the property is actually available for rent. Lastly, you may not be looking for a rental property, but if someone you know is, please share this post and this blog with them in order to help educate them about this prevalent scam.

     
  • Geebo 10:03 am on November 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: lockbox, real estate, ,   

    Beware of lockbox rental scams 

    Beware of lockbox rental scams

    Reports have come out of the Treasure Valley section of Idaho where a new rental property scam has been taking place. The new scam starts out as the usual rental scam with the scammers copying a legitimate real estate ad then pasting it on to less than trustworthy classifieds sites. However, the scam takes a new twist when it comes to accessing the electronic lockbox used to secure the property for realtors and landlords. Specifically, the scammers have been targeting lockboxes given out by a company called Rently.

    Here’s how the lockboxes are normally supposed to work…

    Unfortunately, victims of the scam then give out the Rently access code to the scammers. The scammers then get access to the property and are able to show it to prospective victims like they own the property which makes it easier for scammers to ask victims for money in the form of non-existent security deposits and the like.

    If you’re looking for a property and end up needing to use one of these electronic lockbox devices, don’t ever give out the security access code to third parties. Also, you may think that since this scam is happening nowhere near you it can’t affect you, but if it’s happening in one area of the country there’s a good chance it could be happening in multiple locales.

     
  • Geebo 8:54 am on August 28, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , real estate, ,   

    Zillow has Zestimate lawsuit thrown out 

    Zillow has Zestimate lawsuit thrown out

    Back in May, we posted how real estate site Zillow was being sued over their ‘Zestimate’ feature. The lawsuit claimed Zillow’s estimates were undervaluing the homes which were being sold on Zillow and that Zestimates were a de facto appraisal. In Illinois, where the suit was filed, all real estate appraisers have to be licensed in the state.

    Zillow can breathe a zigh of relief for now, as the lawsuit has been dismissed by a U.S. District Judge in Chicago. The judge ruled the portmanteau of Zillow and estimate, creating Zestimate, clearly shows consumers it is an estimate and not an appraisal and Zestimates were just a starting point for people looking to buy a home. The judge also ruled Zillow did not violate Illinois’ Real Estate Appraiser Licensing Act.

    The plaintiffs will no doubt try to file an amended lawsuit since they still claim Zestimates are affecting property values negatively.

     
  • Geebo 9:02 am on July 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: real estate, ,   

    The cost of online rental scams 

    The cost of online rental scams

    A number of people tend to think that the real estate rental scams that take place online are no big deal. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Currently, southwestern Florida is experiencing a surge in these rental scams. The scam is the same one that’s been plaguing certain classifieds sites for years. A con artist, or artists, will copy an ad from a property that’s being sold and change the ad to make it appear that the property is for rent. Then the scammers will claim to be renting it at a reduced price that’s hard to resist. On top of that, they’ll try to lure in people who are either undocumented in this country or people with low credit scores. Of course the scammers will put restrictions on how you deal with them such as only contacting them through email or not letting you view the property before sending them some form of down payment or processing fee.

    WFTV in Florida supposes that if one of these scammers collected the $310 ‘processing fee’ that the scammers are asking from two people a day, the scammers could end up with a quarter million dollars in a short amount of time. That’s not even taking into account the victims who will not only be out of their money but could also find themselves without a place to live.

    The best way to find out who the true owners of the property are and if it’s for rent is to go to your county’s appraiser website. However, the best way not to get scammed is to not use that certain classifieds site that is the flame to the moth for real estate scammers.

     
  • Geebo 9:01 am on July 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: instant offers, real estate,   

    Realtors rebelling against Zillow over instant offers 

    Realtors rebelling against Zillow over instant offers

    Hot off of them threatening a blogger over fair use of photos (BTW, they backed down after the EFF told them they have no case), real estate website Zillow is testing a new program called Instant Offers. Zillow says Instant Offers can speed up the process of selling your home and make it a lot easier. Basically how it works is, you register your home with Instant Offers and ideally, within two business days you’ll receive offers from investors who are willing to buy your home. Real estate agents, who already have a contentious relationship with Zillow, are saying not only does this hurt their business, but Instant Offers are also not consumer friendly.

    Even though Instant Offers is only being tested in Las Vegas and Orlando, many members of the National Association of Realtors have seen the writing on the wall. The realtors are saying not only does Instant Offers take away business opportunities from them, but they also say the Instant Offers investors are not offering equitable offers to homeowners. The realtors believe the investors are offering a great deal below market value. One realtor has even taken it upon himself to start a grass-roots movement to try to stop Zillow from becoming the Amazon of real estate by launching the website Stop Zillow.

    However, the question that needs to be asked is, is Zillow looking to corner the real estate market nationwide, or are realtors looking at Zillow like newspapers looked at online classifieds before print media’s decline? Only time will tell.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel