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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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