Skyrocketing home prices and mortgage rates have led to more Americans entering (or re-entering) the rental housing market. With this said, this is also leading to more housing scams. In addition to fake listings of homes for sale, we are also seeing a spike in rental listing scams. Add in the various economic challenges being felt by Americans and this only results in more housing scam artists. As always, it is extremely important that consumers are knowledgeable and diligent when searching for rental housing. We discuss some common things to be on the look out for.
Signs of a scam
As with most scams, rental listing scams are almost always conducted using email or other online communication methods. Furthermore, these fake landlords typically place a “for rent by owner” ad on popular sites such as Craigslist, Zillow, Facebook Marketplace, or any other online classified site that allows owners to advertise property for rent. When viewing these rental ads, there are typically some common red flags to be aware of. A few of these are:
- Funds are required prior to showings (i.e advance deposit via wire transfer, bitcoin, or money transfer app)
- Below market rental price
- Typos and grammatical errors
- Little or no tenant screening requirements
- Avoidance of in-person meetings
- Inability to view the property in person
As with anything, the more knowledgeable and cautious you are, the less likely you will be to fall victim to a rental scam. Of course, hiring a professional real estate agent will be your best first step when searching for housing. In the event that you become a victim to a scam, you should report any information that you have to the authorities. In addition, you will want to contact the site where you saw the listing advertisement to report this scam as well. Lastly, you may also contact the Federal Trade Commission. In the event that you submitted a payment to the scammer already, you can check with your financial institution to see if the paid funds are recoverable. In closing, the more knowledgeable you are, the less likely it is that you will fall victim to a scam. Like most things in life, if it seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
Are you in the South Florida market and looking to buy, sell, or rent a property? We can help! Contact our team at Live South Florida Realty, Inc. today. Also, be sure to download the free Florida Home Search app for your mobile device.