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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 December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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