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Tips to help you avoid a real estate scam

It is unwise to think you can’t be fooled in a real estate transaction while some sellers and buyers are quite honest, there can be some dishonest sellers, agents or buyers. The reality is that the trait of dishonesty is not written on anybody’s forehead instead many of this scammers are criminally minded folks who are taking advantage of the system. Scams in the real estate industry in Nigeria are real but real estate scams are not just a problem peculiar to Nigeria. It is a global issue and there are ways you can protect yourself from being a victim.

So the real question is: how do you know if you’re about to be scammed in a real estate transaction? The truth is you can’t know if you are about to be scammed but there are warning signs and tips you can take to protect yourself against the activities of scammers. Even if you are working with honest people, these are safe ways to approach buying, renting or selling any home.

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Don’t rush the buying/renting process
It is quite possible to find a great deal and you most probably want to act quickly so you don’t lose the offer to someone else but the problem with rushing the buying or renting process is that you have little time to question the real estate transaction.

Step on the brakes of excitement and objectively analyse the deal if it seems to good to be true then it is advisable to step back from such transactions. It is better to be safe than sorry.

Verify the person you’re working with in the real estate transaction

Do not take whoever you are working with at face value ensure you do your research about that person. This is the digital age, check the person online, ask for referrals from other people and review their past works.

If your gut feeling tells you something is wrong with the person involved in the real estate transaction, then you need to step back do more research about that person. Don’t work with any person you have no confidence in.

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Ask questions

Ensure to ask a lot of questions especially about any unclear issue about the real estate question. Ask the agent the reason for the sale? When there is not a reason for the sale, that can be a red flag. Questions are important because they help reveal inconsistencies in the real estate transactions.

If you spot any inconsistencies that cannot be reconciled then you need to rethink your involvement in the real estate transaction.

Avoid paying cash

If the homeowner or agent is asking you to pay in cash then you should tread carefully of that real estate transaction. The problem with paying in cash is that the money is not traceable unlike paying in a bank instead you insist on writing checks or paying at the bank as this means of payment does not leave you hanging dry if the transaction goes wrong.

You want to be able to hold someone liable when all is not what they seem; so be careful and avoid payments you can’t trace. If the agent or house owner is unyielding about paying in cash, then you need to step back immediately from that transaction.

Email scams

Internet originating scams are not uncommon these days. All the advantages of the digital era have made our life a lot easier, however, they don’t come without harm. When you receive an email that seems suspicious, double check with your agent before taking any actions requested electronically.

Use a reliable source in your search for properties
Online property listing sources is a reputable platform to use in finding properties in Nigeria. It is advisable to make use of well know property agency so as not to be duped of one’s hard earned money.

Never skip inspection

A major red flag for any real estate transaction is when the homeowner or agent is trying to discourage you from inspecting the house. If there is nothing suspicious to hide then inspection is not negotiable. Insist on inspection and if not granted by the homeowner or agent then it is advisable to terminate the real estate transaction immediately.

Damilola Dimeji-Ajayi

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