When it comes time to move, finding a safe and suitable place to live is often a top priority. Unfortunately, there are property scammers on the lookout for unsuspecting victims, especially those in transition. When it comes to relocating for military-connected families, it can be a time of high stress and vulnerability. Avoid falling victim to scams based on this list of seven tips.
Research Extensively Beforehand
- Use Trusted Websites: Start your property search on reputable websites like Zillow, Realtor.com, or the official website of your base’s housing office. These platforms often have robust security measures in place to protect users from scams.
- Check Local Listings: Explore local classifieds, but be cautious. Cross-reference these listings with established real estate websites to ensure their legitimacy.
Verify the Property’s Ownership and History
- Consult County Records: Most counties maintain public records of property ownership. Verify the property’s ownership history to ensure it matches the information provided by the seller.
- Title Search: Consider hiring a professional to perform a title search. This will help identify any outstanding liens, disputes, or ownership issues related to the property.
Watch Out for Red Flags
- Too Good to Be True: If a property seems significantly underpriced for its location or features, it might be a scam. Scammers often use attractive pricing to lure victims.
- Pressure Tactics: Beware of sellers who rush you into making a decision. A legitimate seller will give you time to consider the purchase and consult with professionals.
Use a Licensed Real Estate Agent
- Military Specialization: Look for a real estate agent with experience working with military families. They understand the unique challenges and timelines associated with military relocations.
- Check Credentials: Verify the agent’s credentials and licensing status through your state’s real estate commission.
Visit the Property in Person
- Virtual Tours: While virtual tours can be helpful, it’s crucial to visit the property in person whenever possible. This allows you to assess the condition and location accurately.
- Meet the Seller: If the seller is reluctant to meet in person or insists on handling everything remotely, it could be a warning sign.
Use Secure Payment Method
- Avoid Wire Transfers: Scammers often request payment through wire transfers or prepaid cards. These methods offer little recourse if you fall victim to fraud. Use secure payment methods like checks or escrow services recommended by your real estate agent.
Trust Your Gut and Seek Advice
- Consult Trusted Contacts: Before finalizing any property transaction, seek advice from friends, family, or colleagues who have experience with real estate. They may offer valuable insights.
- Report Suspicious Activity: If something feels off, don’t hesitate to report it to your local law enforcement or the Better Business Bureau. Reporting scams can prevent others from falling victim.
Stay vigilant, do your due diligence, and remember that seeking professional guidance is always a smart move in the world of real estate. Your family’s safety and financial security depend on it.