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Signs That An Online Housing Listing May Be A Scam

Signs That An Online Housing Listing May Be A Scam

Typically, every home search, whether for renting or buying, begins online. The Internet can provide a wealth of information for homeowners, but it can also be a place for scammers to target those searching for a home.

There are three common types of online scams. First, many scammers duplicate listings of homes that are available to rent or purchase but drastically reduce the price. Another type of scam is listing a home that doesn’t exist, leaving out images and addresses. Finally, some scammers even rent out homes they don’t own. These are homes where the real homeowner may not check on the property often.

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It is important to know the signs of an online housing scam before you begin your preliminary research and start to visit properties. This way, you can avoid a dangerous and fraudulent situation before it’s too late.

How to spot a scam

Be on the lookout for the following signs. Any of them could be indicative of a scam and should require further investigation:

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Listings without Images.

Every prospective homeowner wants to be able to view images of a home to determine if it is worth seeing in person. Look for listings that have images of the property included.

Listings without images should be a red flag. Search the property address to see if you can find images of the home elsewhere. This will also help you find out if the property actually exists and determine if the listing is possibly a duplicate.

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Even if the listing includes images, conducting research on other websites outside of where the property is listed can help you verify that the images match up with the area. For example, does the listing include photos of a home with climate conditions that don’t match the area you’re searching?

Listings that are priced too low.

Compare the listing price to other properties in the area. Are they similar? If the property you’re looking at is priced lower than surrounding homes, it may be a sign that the price is too good to be true. Consider the amenities of the property for the listing price. Again, if the price seems too low, the listing could be a scam.

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Listings that ask for money or private information before showing the property.

Is the property manager not willing to show the property or provide more information until he or she receives money or important financial information from you? If so, this could be indicative of a scam. Never pay in advance before seeing a home. You shouldn’t be required to give a credit check or provide payment until you’re absolutely sure that you’re ready to buy.

In addition, never fill out a rental application until you’ve seen the property. You don’t want to release personal information until you’ve visited the property and spoken with the person who has a legal right to rent or list the property.

How to protect yourself

Now that you know the signs of a potential scam, what else can you do to protect yourself?

  • Never wire money.
  • Research and compare prices.
  • Never leave a purchase untraceable. Scammers may ask you to pay in cash.
  • Research the contact information of the listing owner. Is this person in good standing, or has someone already filed a complaint?
  • Check for duplicate property listings.
  • If at any time during your property search you feel unsure, listen to your gut. If the listing seems too good to be true, it most likely is.
  • Verify the owner or landlord. Make sure the individual who is showing you the property is the right person.

How to report a scam

Flag the listing so other potential tenants or homeowners are aware. Contact your local authorities as well. You can also file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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