Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Real Estate Scams Everyone Must Know

No one relishes in being deceived by a trusted realtor or partner in growing your real estate investments. Though every scam story points to the scammer, it is also essential to note that each has participation. The scam can be a result of negligence from the buyer, seller or agent. Either way, no one looks forward to the event.

There are several factors involved in executing the crime - the property, documents, lenders, sellers, buyers, agents, and third-party entities. All of these can perform the violations or be an accomplice. Hence, it's best to be aware of the real estate scams in the Philippines. Below are the crimes rampant in the industry and how they operate.

Abrupt Change in Lender

The property owner receives an official notice regarding the transfer of load to a different lender. Besides the change in the lender, the letter will also inform you that your remaining balance will be carried over a different account name.

If you didn't request for any changes on your loan structure or anything connected to it, it's best to disregard the letter. Moreover, you must verify instructions before accepting any of the terms.

Bogus Buying

A woman under the alias Virginia "Virgie" Manalang had gone around Manila to trick real estate agents and homeowners into giving her cash. She presents herself as a potential buyer of a property. She says she can purchase the unit or house and lot as she is married to an engineer in Australia who sends his monthly pension. To prove it, she issues a check worth hundred thousand as initial payment. However, she initiates to draft the deed of sale and handle the transactions from there. Her acts are questionable as she asks the agent or seller for cash so her lawyer can write the deed of sale. She asks additional amount to cover attorney and notarial fees. She also requests for photocopies of valid IDs and signatures which she uses to target other real estate agents and realtors. Her check is also a bouncing check and the bank account used for it belongs to a different entity.

Copycat Rentals

The person would post an online listing of his or her rental that seems harmless at first. The photos look valid as there are images of the rooms of the unit and its amenities. Fake agents use this tactic to ask renters for a deposit without meeting them in person.

Double Sale

It may be a case of an initial buyer of the property may neglect the registering and transferring the title, or a seller accepting a higher price thought a potential buyer already placed payment.

Fraudulent Schemes by Agents

Agents advertise properties that aren't for sale or currently handled by a different agent. They offer the properties at a low price to bait people. Once the client sends inquiries on the property, the agent will claim it as sold or unavailable. He or she will then offer their own listing which may have a higher price than the previous property.

Some brokers and realtors may take advantage of their skills in selling and building rapport. They may misrepresent a property and neglect to disclose the most important details. Though it is the duty of the agent to be transparent on the pros and cons of choosing the land, condo unit or house and lot, they may not comply to close a sale.

On the other hand, other agents connive to raise their commission fees. One acts as the listing agent, while the other represents the buyer. Both the seller of the property and its buyer aren't aware of the setup which distorts the value of the property. The practice violates the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities for Real Estate Service Practitioners.

Predatory Lending

Loan sharks and small time, unscrupulous financial institutions lure home buyers and house hunters to unfair and abusive loan terms. They coerce their victims through deceptive or exploitative actions to acquire a loan. Most of the time, the forced borrowers don't need, want or can't afford the mortgage.

Property Title Fraud

This type of scam involves the use of old property titles and use it to generate fake titles. The scammer provides supporting documents keep buyers from doubting the deal. Another way of doing it is by presenting a fake title over an existing an existing property regardless if it has an owner or not. People who neglect due diligence are potential victims of this scam.

Sale of Foreclosed Properties

This scam is rampant and likely to happen with Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) wanting to invest in a home in the suburbs like Vermosa. Scammers, who act as a homeowner or realtor, offer foreclosed properties to potential buyers who cannot check and inspect the property (due diligence). They forge the documents to make the transaction as real as possible. Once they close the deal and the buyers are ready to move in, they disappear. They are out of reach while buyers deal with the bank.

Unfinished Developments

Lesser known developers or names you haven't heard in the industry must be taken with a grain of salt. Scams involving unfinished developments include asking for reservation fees or amortization on a property without the advertised amenities and facilities. These add-ons can also be pending or abandoned by the developer. These developers may refuse to return the money leaving the owners empty-handed.

Part of this scam is pre-sold properties with low rated that remain unfinished until the turnover date. The developer promises a different period. They move it several times until the buyer gives up.

“Too-good-to-be-true” Real Estate Champions

Individuals advertise themselves as experts who can provide insights on the market and valuable pieces of advice. They sell themselves by conducting seminars promising quick returns and strategies. They market immediate success which is far from reality.

There are also individuals posing as real estate agents. They set up a website full of property listings copied from legitimate realtors. They trick home buyers by presenting forged documents and contact information to pay a security deposit or initial payment.

You can avoid these schemes by raising awareness and spreading them to communities. That way, other people recognize the signs and report them to authorities and institutions immediately. Moreover, you must conduct your research when inquiring in a real estate property in Cavite or any place in the South. You'll have your notes to compare with your broker which can prove their reliability on the transaction.

Note: This article was first published on May 5, 2015, as "Top 3 Real Estate Scams You Need To Avoid." It was updated to raise awareness of potential buyers and sellers of real estate properties.

Image by Quill Group

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