How to Avoid Home-Buying Scams

Are you worried about falling for home-buying scams? There are many reasons selling your home might make sense for you and your family. And whatever the reason, selling your house for cash may be the quickest and simplest route to a successful sale, as long as you work with a company you can trust.

So, if you’re considering selling your home for cash, here are some tried-and-true tips to help you identify and avoid home-buying scams.

10 Tips to Help You Avoid Home Buying Scams

Working with a cash-for-homes firm should be a valuable and mutually beneficial transaction. But, there are many home-buying scams in the real estate industry that, unfortunately, will try to take advantage of you. The following tips will help you to identify and avoid them.

1. Know How Legitimate Cash-For-Homes Firms Operate

Legitimate cash-for-homes firms operate within comfortable, convenient, and legal parameters. To begin the buyer-seller relationship, a proper cash buyer will want to visit your home before preparing an offer. This may not necessarily be an inspection but rather to understand the property’s value.

As the process moves toward an offer and contract, you shouldn’t feel pressure or a timeline that only benefits the buyer. Lastly, you will receive a written agreement before money changes hands, ensuring a transparent and legal transaction that lets you move on from your property with cash and without hassle.

2. Research the Company or Individual

While legitimate businesses do exist, scams are also common in the real estate industry. Before you contact any company claiming to buy houses, ensure they’re legitimate. Don’t just look for a website or business card.

Look for online reviews, testimonials, and ratings on reputable platforms. Also, check if the company is registered, licensed, and affiliated with local real estate associations. 

Some warning signs include a cheap website, unprofessional email addresses, and crude or illegal advertising methods like flyers stapled to utility poles. In general, pay attention to how they present themselves: their language, both verbal and digital, their methods of communication, and their general sense of professionalism.

What you don’t find can also be an indicator. They may be hard to trace if they have minimal or no online presence or don’t list a physical address. Ask for references, which a legitimate buyer will be happy and able to provide. Avoiding or denying this request is another warning sign.

If a potential buyer does provide references but shows other questionable behavior, check courthouse records and make sure they completed the transaction. You may just find evidence of another frustrated and deceived homeowner.

3. Look Out for Unprofessional Behavior and High-Pressure Tactics

If a company pressures you to sell your house quickly or for a low price, it’s probably a scam. Legitimate companies will give you time to think about your decision and won’t pressure you into anything.

If the buyer moves fast and is eagerto buy the house without first seeing it, they may not be a legitimage buyer. They may pose as foreign buyers and send you unsolicited financial information to prove their credibility. But if they can’t meet or call you or your attorney directly due to the “time zone differences,” it’s likely a scam.

Scammers often use high-pressure sales tactics to rush you into impulsive decisions. Legitimate homebuyers understand the importance of trust and professionalism. Beware of a company or individual exhibiting pushy behavior, making unsolicited calls or emails, or employing aggressive marketing techniques.

Remember this: any legitimate buyer will want to visit your home, work on your timeline, and remain available for communication. Behavior that contrasts these standards may be a warning sign.

4. Verify Proof of Funds

If you’re dealing with an individual, they should be willing to provide proof of funds to demonstrate their financial capability to purchase your property. Request documentation, such as bank statements or letters from financial institutions, to verify their ability to complete the transaction.

5. Consult a Real Estate Professional

Consider seeking guidance from an attorney who can assist you in navigating the selling process. They can help you distinguish between legitimate offers and potential scams.

6. Scrutinize Contracts Thoroughly and Get Everything in Writing

Review all legal documents and contracts thoroughly. Pay close attention to the terms and conditions, including any contingencies, fees, or clauses that could compromise your best interests. If you need clarification on any part of the contract, consult a real estate attorney before signing.

Get everything in writing. Ensure you get everything in writing, including the price of the house, the closing costs, and any other fees.

7. Be Wary of Upfront Fees or Closing Costs

Exercise caution if a home buyer or company asks for upfront fees or closing costs before you finalize the sale. Legitimate buyers will typically handle these expenses and deduct them from the purchase price when the deal is finalized.

8. Avoid Excited Buyers Who Are Too Eager to Pay Up

In this case, the buyer usually sends a check to your account but then claims they made a mistake and sent too much. They’ll then ask you to refund the difference before their check bounces, leaving you out hundreds or thousands of dollars.

9. A Contract That Is Heavily Skewed in The Buyer’s Favor

Sometimes a buyer will come in posing as an investor eager to acquire your property. They’ll offer to put your house under contract with no money down, but the contract is heavily skewed in their favor. If you notice that you, the homeowner, can’t exit the contract while it allows the investor to walk away at any time, be wary. They’ll often sell the contract to another investor, leaving you right where you started.

10. Rent-to-Own Agreements

Rent-to-own agreements can often be predatory and seek to take control of your home while leaving you still responsible for the mortgage. These scams identify and take advantage of people having difficulty paying their mortgages. If you’re struggling to make payments, contact your lender directly to find a solution.

Get a Fair Cash Offer for Your Home

Whether you’re responsible for the home of a recently deceased loved one, feeling burdened by an outdated or overly cluttered home, or eager for a new chapter without the hassle of a traditional sale process, selling to a cash buyer could be right for you and your family.

While there are scammers in the cash-for-homes business, they aren’t undetectable, and they certainly don’t represent the industry as a whole. Now that you know the common scams and behaviors of scammers, you can pursue the best option for your home.

If you live in the Chicago or Milwaukee metros and think a cash sale could be right for you, Grandview Homes can help with professional, courteous service and a guaranteed cash offer. At Grandview Homes, we’ll give you the closing date of your choice to ensure a smooth and low-stress transition to your next chapter.Contact us to get a fair cash offer for your home.