You’ve found the perfect city. You’ve picked the perfect house. You’ve signed your lease, paid your fees, and packed your boxes. You arrive at your dream rental and reality hits you in the face. That dream home you found online is not what it appeared to be. As the online home search process becomes more common, so does the chance of you coming across a rental scam.
Scammers know what you want: a great deal on a listing that you can get your hands on as soon as possible. They go to real estate listings and scrape the photos from actual real estate sites. They may even try using the same name and contact information of the person who originally posted the rental when creating their ads. Here’s how you can protect your dream from turning into a nightmare.
Check the listing photos
Some scammers pull listing photos from the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS), like REIN.com. To safeguard our photos, we display an MLS watermark. If you aren’t on the MLS website and see this watermark, the person using the photos isn’t the original owner. There is a possibility they aren’t associated with the property.
Review the listing details
If the listing details are vague, don’t match what you are seeing in any accompanying photos, or don’t make sense, then you may have stumbled upon a scam. Also check for bad grammar or misspelled words. Most real estate professionals take great care in writing their listing descriptions. Any errors should make you suspicious.
Can you find the property somewhere else online?
Search for the property address elsewhere online. See if you find the property on other sites with any inconsistencies. Have the right questions and proper research done before any meetings.
Did they ask you to view the property first?
If the person listing the property asks you to sign a lease, pay any fees, or wire money without seeing the property, something is wrong. Scheduling a meeting ensures that the person you’ve been speaking with matches the person you will meet with. It also ensures that the listing photos you’ve been viewing online are actually of the home you would be moving into after making your decision.
Are they claiming to be out of the country?
Don’t buy into that claim so soon. Proceed with caution when making deals with an owner who is overseas. Make sure you are working with someone who has trustworthy local representation.
If you think you’ve spotted a rental scam in your home search, we encourage you to report it to local law enforcement and to the Federal Trade Commission. Use REIN.com to search for the most accurate and up-to-date rental listings. Connect with one of our 8,000 agents to help you navigate current market conditions. If it’s a question of whether you should rent or buy, check out our rent vs buy calculator to help guide you in making the best decision. For local listings you can trust, start with REIN.com.
Local Home Listings You Can Trust.