When you’re buying or selling a home, you have to be on your guard for some of the most common (but not necessarily easy to recognize) real-estate-related scams that are out there.

Spoofing/Email Fraud

One of the simplest involves mimicking your email and stealing downpayment, good faith escrow or other payment. To avoid this scam, check all emails carefully, and never click a link inside of an email to go to a payment portal. A proper money transfer for real estate purchase or sale involves a third party bank and typically a wire transfer. Call your lender, real estate lawyer or buyer/seller directly and verify any requests for money.

“Too Good to be True”

Less malicious than financial fraud, but still aimed at heart-ache, the “Too Good to be True” advertisement is a red flag for fraudulent activity. So what’s the point of posting a fake listing with a lower than average price? It’s to draw you in to giving them a call. Prevalent on popular real estate search websites, the to-good-to-be-true post is usually photos of a previously sold home, with gorgeous interior shots and a price that just seems a little too low. Calling the realtor for more information (as prompted by websites) gives them the lead they want. They’ll simply tell you that house was already sold, but look at all these similar (yet more expensive) homes available.

Foreclosure Scams

When your home is unfortunately in pre-foreclosure, it goes into the public record. This puts a target on your head for foreclosure scam artists. Many companies will reach out to you in this time, but some of them will be unscrupulous, offering debt relief and foreclosure prevention for the cost of one large (up-front) lump sum. For foreclosure relief, research reputable real estate lawyers and lenders.