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How to Avoid Real Estate Scam

Posted by Esther on August 7, 2018

Scams in the real estate sector are real. Although, it is not just a Nigerian problem, it’s a global occurrence and there are ways you can guide against being a victim. It is not wise to think that you can’t be fooled in real estate transactions. While some sellers and buyers are quite honest, there are some sellers, agents or buyers who are dishonest. The reality is that dishonesty is never written on anybody’s face to determine is who is fraudulent or not. These scammers usually feign sincerity, but they are criminally minded looking for unsuspecting prospects.

The question is: how do you know if you’re about to be scammed in a real estate transaction?  The truth is that you may not know if you are about to be scammed but there are signs and ways that you can protect yourself against the activities of scammers. Even if you are working with honest people, getting yourself acquainted with these tips will really equip you to make a good deal.

These are tips to help you avoid a real estate scam:

Don’t be in a haste in the buying/renting process
Most things done hastily usually end up in regrets. You have to be detailed in your investigation before you go on to make financial commitment. Don’t rush to pay and refuse to be pressured into making hasty financial commitment. If they say it’s too good to pass up, check it and be sure, otherwise forgo it! There will always be genuine deals. They might not come often but will definitely come, so take your time and do your assessment well. 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 faced with rushing the buying or renting process is that you have little time to ask necessary questions and verify the authenticity of real estate deal.

Ask Questions
Don’t look for cheap property or distressed property. Most of it has the undertone of fraud. Also try to avoid encumbered properties, no matter how cheap they sale. Properties in Nigeria, especially in areas like Lagos, Enugu, port Harcourt and other major cities aren’t that cheap. The areas and neighborhood of a property goes a long way to determine the price. Do a little leg work and find out the average price of similar properties in that area. The price of similar properties within 1km drive will usually fallen within a certain prize range. If the property it is too cheap, don’t be gullible, check again and be sure. Yes, it might be a favor, but it’s safe to be sure. Ensure to ask a lot of questions especially about any unclear issue. Ask the agent the reason for the sale? When there is not a reason for the sale, it can be a red flag. Questions are important because they help reveal inconsistencies in the real estate transactions. If you spot any inconsistency that cannot be reconciled, then you need to have a second thought about your involvement in the transaction. 

Avoid Paying Cash
If you are going to pay, do it through a means that can be tracked. Insist on writing checks or any other type of payment that doesn’t leave you hanging dry if anything goes wrong. Be wise and avoid payments you can’t trace. If the home owner or agent is asking you to pay in cash, then you should tread carefully and avoid jumping in hurriedly. The problem with paying in cash is that the money is not traceable unlike paying in a bank. Instead insist on writing checks or paying at the bank as this means of payment does not leave you hanging in the loop if the transaction goes wrong.

Verify the Person You’re Working with in the Real Estate Transaction
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 previous works and deals. You should work with a property dealer who has a track record hitch-free transaction. Often, it preferable to deal with a registered property firm rather than dealing with a single individual.

If you feel something is wrong with the person approach and marketing strategy, then you may need to step back a little and find more about that person. Do not transact with a with any person you have not proven his genuineness and track record.

Email Scams
Internet scams are so common these days. All the merits of the digital era have made life much easier, however, the internet space is awash without fraudulent deals. When you receive an email that seems suspicious, especially unsolicited mails, double check with your agent before doing a follow up.

Reliable source in your search for properties
It is advisable to use a reliable source in your search for properties so as not to be duped. Online property listing sources such as Ugetproperties is a reputable platform to use in finding properties in Nigeria.

Never skip inspection
Make sure you go for inspection of the house or land as the case may be before thinking of purchasing or acquiring the property. A major red flag for transactions involving real estate is when the home owner or agent discourages or tries 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.

Above all, use a reputable estate agent or developer to help you through the process. If you do, you can be sure you will get exactly what you are paying for.


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