“Wait! How to Avoid “Buy Houses for Cash” scams

There are many reasons selling your home for cash might make sense for you and your family. You may need to sell your home quickly and easily to avoid long, drawn-out sales processes. Maybe you have a “difficult” home to sell due to maintenance or cleaning needs. Or, maybe you are responsible for selling a loved one’s property, and dealing with a traditional sale is more than you can handle right now. 

Whatever the reason, selling your home for cash may be the quickest and simplest route to a successful sale, as long as you work with a company you can trust.

Working with a cash-for-homes firm can and should be a valuable and mutually beneficial transaction. But, there are people in this industry who, unfortunately, will try and take advantage of you. If you’re considering selling your home for cash, also consider how to identify when an opportunity might actually be a scam.

There are a few tried-and-true sham practices that scammers often turn to that you should be familiar with.

Let’s examine the three most common forms of scams.

The first involves an excited buyer who is eager to pay up. They’ll send a check to your account, but then claim they made a mistake and sent too much. They’ll ask to be refunded for the difference before their check bounces, leaving you out hundreds or thousands of dollars.

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. You, the homeowner, are unable to exit the contract while it allows the investor to walk away at any time. They’ll often sell the contract to another investor, leaving you right where you started.

Additionally, 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, you should engage with your lender directly to find a solution.

We know these scams are out there, so let’s understand how to best identify and avoid them.

Do your research. If a company is suspected, it will likely show with some preliminary research. Some warning signs include a cheap website, an unprofessional email address, and crude and/or illegal advertising methods, such as 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. Does this person seem like a qualified professional? To contrast, Grandview Homes has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.

What you don’t find can also be an indicator. If they have minimal or no online presence or don’t list a physical address, they may be hard to trace for a reason. Request a list of 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 displays other questionable behavior, check courthouse records and make sure the transaction was actually fully completed. You may instead just find evidence of another frustrated and deceived homeowner.

Consider their behavior. Overeagerness and pressure are key signs that your interested buyer may be a scammer. The buyer moves fast and is more than happy to buy the house sight unseen. They send you unsolicited financial information to prove their credibility (though the statements are fake). They may quickly woo you with a cash offer, then pressure you to sign a contract or exchange funds on an uncomfortable deadline. Scammers will often pose as foreign buyers who are excited to buy your house sight unseen, but due to the “time zone difference,” they are unable to meet or call directly with you or your attorney. Remember this: any legitimate buyer will want to visit your home, will work on your timeline, and remain available for communication. Behavior that contrasts any of these principles should be seen as a warning sign.

Know how proper cash-for-homes firms operate. There are many legitimate cash-for-homes firms that operate within comfortable, convenient, and legal parameters. To begin the buyer-seller relationship, a proper cash buyer will almost certainly want to visit your home before preparing an offer. This is not an inspection, but rather the buyer themselves understand the property to write the best offer. As the process moves forward toward an offer and contract, you shouldn’t feel pressure or a timeline that only benefits the buyer. For example, Grandview Homes will give you the closing date of your choice to ensure a smooth and low-stress transition to your next chapter. Lastly, you will receive a written agreement before any money changes hands, ensuring a transparent and legal transaction that lets you move on from your property with cash and without hassle.

Selling to a cash-for-homes company can and should be an easy, empowering, and mutually beneficial process. 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 certainly bad actors in the cash-for-homes business, they aren’t undetectable, and they certainly don’t represent the industry as a whole. Now knowing the common scams and behaviors of scammers, you can pursue the best option for your home with comfort. 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.

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