Oftentimes, people who are trying to sell their house are desperate. Very few of us are in a position where it’s fine for our house to sit on the market for months or years without selling. As such, those of us who are trying to sell a house are particularly vulnerable to getting scammed. Scammers know that the best time to get to someone is when they are desperate and need money quickly.
I’m not suggesting that you could get scammed into losing your house. That isn’t necessarily impossible, but it would be difficult to do and most scammers are looking for quick, easy ways to con their victims. For instance, they could get you to share personal information that gives them access to your bank accounts or to other sensitive information. They could also do something very simple (but frustrating for you) such as take your address, email address, etc. and sell it to other scammers to bombard you with scam materials.
Whatever it is that the scammers are after, you want to try to avoid them at all costs. As such, here are ten questions you should ask to ensure that you don’t get scammed when dealing with someone who wants to buy your house:
- Do they have a website or place where I can find clear, concrete information on the people I’m dealing with or with their business? This one is important because most scammers try to fly under the radar. If they do have a site, that site will usually have very little content about what they actually do and will focus more on getting your sensitive information, such as a social security number or credit card.
- Am I able to speak to someone over the phone or do they insist that I text or email only? Scammers don’t like to talk on the phone because the person at the other end might be able to identify by their tone of voice that they aren’t legit. As such, they will try to limit this type of communication for electronic means at all costs.
- Are they operating a real business or is it just one person who isn’t willing to disclose his motives for buying my house? Each state has a way of looking up businesses online, and you can verify there if a business is real or not. The state of South Carolina has its database of businesses here, and that is where Upstate House Buyers LLC is listed.
- Do they immediately ask for sensitive information rather than for the usual information that a house-buyer would be interested in? Sensitive information includes: social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, etc.
- Do they want to buy my house without ever seeing it? This is a big red flag – no one should legitimately be willing to buy a house without looking at it first. If they tell you that they are willing to buy it without ever seeing it, don’t take the bait.
- Do they want me to send a wire transfer/check/Paypal to close the deal, with a guarantee that they will send me their payment via wire transfer/check/Paypal shortly thereafter? This is a very common ploy. In this tactic, the scammer will insist that you will get paid a certain amount of money but that he needs you to pay some money first. When dealing with real estate, he may claim that the money you owe will cover closing costs, and that he will repay you the full amount that he owes you after he receives your money. The only problem is that once he receives your money, you will never hear from him again.
- Do they try to purchase the house without anything official in writing (such as a contract)? Since scammers try to fly under the radar, they don’t want to mess around with contracts or other documents that could get tracked back to them (or make it obvious that they are scamming you). More often than not they will try to get you to agree to things through emails without real signatures or text messages.
- Do they have a mailing/postal address (or a PO Box)? There is nothing a scammer hates more than having a mailing address, since mail is run by the US government and having an address or PO Box means their scam could be traceable by law enforcement. If the people you are dealing with don’t have a place where you can send them mail, you should be concerned about their legitimacy.
- Have they clearly invested in their business or do they not have much more than a phone number and a generic email address? Scammers typically don’t spend a lot of money crafting their schemes. They want to get money (from scamming), not spend money on things like marketing materials, etc. that could ultimately track a law enforcement official to their doorstep. As such, most scammers will not have professional business cards, marketing materials, websites, etc. They will likely keep these things to a minimum and have very little noticeable infrastructure to their “business.”
- Are they able to provide references, if you ask for them? A legitimate real estate investor will have people who can vouch for his legitimacy. If not, he is likely trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
Upstate House Buyers is a legitimate business registered with the state of SC. We pride ourselves in honesty and transparency and want all parties that we work with to have the sense that we are reputable and truthful. If you have any concerns about this, we welcome for you to check out our FAQ page to answer any questions you may have. If still not satisfied, please contact us and let us know your concerns, and we will do our best to answer them and alleviate your concerns.