4 Real Estate Scams and Hoaxes To Look Out For

real estate hoaxes and scams

Dreaming about becoming a Boca Raton homeowner? Who can blame you! Life here in the high tropics is near picture-perfect 300 days out of the year. If you ask one of the tens of thousands of people who relocate to Florida each year why they moved to the Sunshine State, they’ll tell you that our quality of life was their number one reason. While most of us see these people as new friends and neighbors, some see them as dollar signs. Here are 4 real estate hoaxes and scams to look out for if you are thinking of moving to Boca Raton.

Fake Rental Units

fake rental unit

So you want to rent before you find a place to buy? Good idea! We agree that taking a month or two to get the feel of your new city is a safe and measured course to take, even if we are certain you’re going to love it here. However, with more and more people moving to Florida from the northeast, seasonal and full-time rental units have seen their supply begin to dry up and the scammers have found a score. Some scammers may have a key to show you an unfurnished (or even furnished) unit. They may put on a “hard sell” and say that they have offers, but a cash deposit on the same day will guarantee you the lease. Maybe that ad on Craigslist for a $900/month two-bedroom a block from the beach seems too good to be true? When in doubt, contact the local appraiser’s office for the name and contact information of the owner of the unit, to confirm the legitimacy of the let. Always write a check and always verify. 

Unlicensed Real Estate Agents

fake real estate agent scam

Real estate may not be rocket science, but getting it right is time-consuming, tedious, and requires substantial knowledge of the local area and laws. Closing a home in Boca Raton without a Real Estate Agent is no picnic and best left to the professionals. However, be wary of unsolicited contact from supposed agents, especially those with low fees. Online posts, classified ads, or word-of-mouth does not belie legitimacy. With so much of your personal, financial information going to an agent to facilitate the purchase of your home, always ask for a copy of their license to verify online through the State of Florida’s website. Don’t let them charm you out of it!

Illegal Property Flipping

scammer phone call

Property flipping is practically a Floridian past-time, as home prices have historically risen year over year for most of the recent memory. However, there are still people out there that do not want to put in the hard work of renovating a home with potential. Enter the con artist. They find an undervalued home and purchase it. After a day’s worth of yard work and some touch-up paint, they find a corrupt appraiser to submit an inflated value of the home to the city or county. The con artist then finds an acquaintance to act as a “straw buyer,” someone who does not intend to live in the home, to apply for a loan from the bank to match the inflated value of the home’s asking price. Once the home is sold, the con artist pays off the appraiser and the stray buyer pockets the substantial difference and disappears – forcing the bank to foreclose on the home and sell it at a loss.

Moving Scams

moving scam

We bet you’re thrilled to move down to your new home in Boca Raton! Don’t let those stars in your eyes blind you – because you may be in for a rude welcome when you arrive. Moving scams are on the rise! Many a family has driven or flown ahead and awaited delivery of their furniture, only to be left waiting for days until they receive a phone call that usually says the estimate that they were given was wrong and the cost will actually be much higher by several orders of magnitude. The moving company will not be delivering the furniture until the new balance is paid in full! Don’t let your stuff get held, hostage! To avoid fraudulent movers, ask for the company’s U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) number and use the FMCSA database to check if the company is registered. Always get an estimate in writing, check review sites and your state’s consumer affairs agency for any complaints, make sure that the business has a brick-and-mortar location, and have someone visit your home in person to take proper inventory of your belongings and to give you said written estimate.

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