Living in today’s digital age comes with a set of perks and downsides. It’s undeniable how convenient life is with a smartphone and the internet with you. Indeed, technology has made it possible to do things quickly without even breaking a sweat.
But like all things in life, today’s digital age also has downsides. Even though the internet aims to help, it has also become a platform to trick and con people. Unfortunately, no matter how smart and careful you are, online scammers have endless tricks up their sleeves.
The thing is, huge investments like real estate are online now. If you’re looking to buy a property, it’s easy to find real estate agents that sell various property types that could meet your needs. But the real struggle is whether to believe their listing is legitimate or not.
If you already have a couple of real estate listings saved on your phone, hold up, and take a moment to go through each of them before moving on to the next stage. Here’s your reminder that no matter how good and authentic a listing may look, it can be fake. So to help you save time, let’s go through a couple of tips that’ll tell if a real estate listing is legitimate or not.
1 – Research and validate the authenticity of the platform where the property is listed.
Today, you’ll see various listings on the internet, starting with social media platforms. Since social media is a powerful place to reach as many people as possible, many real estate agents and companies build their presence on those platforms. However, this accessible place has also paved the way for scammers to con people.
So, how do you know whether the listing you find is legit? First, check the platform where you saw the listing. If it’s from a social media account, review the number of followers, customer engagement, customer reviews, and account age. If the page has a hundred followers without customer engagement–you must further validate its authenticity.
On the other hand, research the details that the brand is claiming if it’s from a company website. If they claim to have worked with various clients, fact-check that. If there’s a contact number or physical store details on their website, I suggest inquiring about those. That way, you can verify the real estate agent or company that listed the property.
2 – Use Google reverse image search to see similar listings that use the same photo of the property you’re eyeing.
The internet can be deceiving, especially if you’re not careful and thorough in using it. The truth is, there are 750 billion images on the internet. On Google alone, there are 136 billion images, according to statistics. With a sea of online images, it’s easy for scammers to use a random photo that they saw for a real estate listing.
If you’re still sceptical about a listing’s images, I suggest using Google reverse image search to see more listings or websites similar to the photo. Once you search for a photo, you’ll find results about a post, article, or website that uses the same picture or a similar one. If you see the exact image on a different listing, contact the real estate agent or seller about it.
If they deny it, then the chances that they’re lying about the property’s details are high. Since Google reverse image is free, don’t hesitate to try it. It could help you ease your mind and validate a listing you like.
3 – If you’re in touch with a real estate agent, I suggest researching their experiences before closing a deal.
Today, it’s easy to do a background check about a person and company, thanks to the internet. Unfortunately, scammers and con artists are great at what they do. It’s easy to believe that a con artist is a professional real estate agent, especially if they’re knowledgeable about the market. So how do you know if they’re legit or not? Again, it’s none other than fact-checking their background.
The truth is, it’s also easy to claim that you have a license and have closed various property deals before. Again, people can make fake things look real seamlessly on the internet. With that, you must never hesitate to fact-check everything you see online. After all, it can be a tricky place.
If you’re hesitant about the real estate agent you’re working with, I suggest checking their license on the government page validation in your country. In New South Wales, you can visit Service NSW’s website to check an agent’s license. You’ll need the agent’s licensee name, trading name, and license number to proceed.
4 – If the agent always makes up excuses to postpone an ocular visit, it is likely fake.
One evident reason that’ll tell you if a listing is fake is an avoidant real estate agent. If you’ve been booking a schedule to do an ocular visit, but the agent keeps making excuses about their availability, that’s a sign. Do you think there’s an agent who wouldn’t want to make a sale? Of course, there’s none.
Licensed real estate agents know the importance of an ocular visit for potential buyers. They use oculars as an opportunity to showcase the property, highlight its strong points, and charm their skills. If your agent keeps delaying and avoiding your request for a site visit, take it as a sign that the listing is fake.
5 – If the agent requires you to share your personal and legal details, you have the right to be sceptical about the listing.
Last but not least is when an agent requires you to share your personal and legal documents’ details during the early stage of listing inquiry. Professional real estate agents can immediately tell if a client is interested in a property or not just by a glance. And, that does not include a requirement to share your details with them.
If the agent already requires you to submit legal documents such as your bank certificates, mobile number, tax declarations, and more, I suggest choosing a new agent. Unless you already saw the property and made it clear that you’re buying it, you don’t have to share your personal and legal information.
Being careful in checking a real estate listing is a great habit.
Hopefully, my five tips will help you spot a fake listing from a legitimate one early on. Remember, as a potential buyer–you have every right to fact-check the details you see. After all, buying real estate is a huge purchase. So to save you from any problems, make it a habit to be careful in checking a real estate listing.
About the author:
Bianca Banda is a writer for Bennett Property, one of the largest and most successful real estate agencies offering a full range of property services, including sales, leasing and development.