RED FLAGS TO HELP IDENTIFY FRAUDULENT REAL ESTATE AGENTS AND COMPANIES
” There are some frauds so well conducted that it would be stupidity not to be deceived by them.” – Charles Caleb Colton
There has been a fast rise of real estate companies all over Nigeria. While this is a good thing, it has also turned out to be a bad thing and this has led up to the rise of fraudulent real estate agents and companies. They extort money from unsuspecting individuals who are trying to purchase properties and abscond with it. This has caused many individuals hurt and disappointment. Barbara Floyd Jones, program manager for Neighbor Works America, the nonprofit organization behind the 2009 Loan Modification Scam Alert campaign said ”Consumers are now more aware of scams, but because scams have gotten more sophisticated, consumers are not sure they know how to avoid them.”. There are red flags to look out for in order to really identify real estate fraudsters. Some of those red flags are:
- No License: Every authentic real estate agent or company ought to be licensed and registered with the appropriate agencies and regulatory bodies. Agents or companies that possess these licenses are the only real estate agents and companies that are authorized to render re estate services to individuals. If any agent or company is unable to produce these licenses and documents, the chances of them being a scam is quite high. Some of such regulatory bodies are Estate Surveyors and Valuers Registration Board of Nigeria (ESVARBON) and Nigerian Institute of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV).
- Skipped Negotiations: Fraudulent real estate agents and companies are usually very reluctant to negotiate with whoever they are trying to sell properties to. They always just want the money that comes with whatever price is first mentioned so they can disappear with the money. They achieve this by making the price look or seem so amazing and that the customer would be missing out on a good deal if they do not make the payment as soon as possible without negotiation.
- Urgency: If you sense urgency to close a deal from a real estate agent or company, they most likely are a scam. They are in an unending haste to close the deal so they relentlessly bother the client to make payment as they do not want the risk of being discovered to be fraudsters. Authentic and professional real estate agents and companies have the understanding of the fact that the purchase of a property requires critical thinking and would give a potential client the required time to make a decision.
- Hide and Seek: This happens when real estate agents or companies are reluctant to show clients the properties before payment has been made. There are constant excuses and rationales for why they cannot show the property to the client. Just like how it is not advised to go dress shopping in a store and not try on the dress before paying for it, individuals are also advised to not make payment for any property they have not physically inspected especially when the agent or company show unexplained reluctance.
- Lack of Land Survey Plan: A land survey plan is a legal document that is made up of a specifically designed map of a piece land. It shows boundary, physical features and other important characteristics of the land. Because of how important a land survey plan is, most real estate fraudsters usually don’t have it and come up with all sort of excuses for why they do not have it. They often try and paint a mental picture of the land survey plan for the client.
- The Deal Sounds Too Good To Be True: If the price of a land sounds too good to be true i.e. too cheap, then it most likely is a scam. For instance, if a supposed real estate agent or company come claiming they have land for sale at Lekki for N500, 000, it should raise suspicions as that is one of the high brow areas of Lagos state and N500, 000 is ridiculously cheap for property at Lekki even if it’s a promo.
- Watermarked Pictures of Properties: The internet and various photo editing applications have made work easier for fraudulent real estate agents and companies. If the photo of the property is showed to you by any real estate agent or company has a watermark on it, their authenticity should be questioned. An authentic real estate agent or company would always have original images of all the properties they market to prospective clients and customers.
What Do You Do When You Are Targeted By a Fraudulent Real Estate Agent or Company?
The biggest mistake many people make is to ignore their instincts or guts. This needs to be stopped. If you feel something does not add up and seems sketchy, then it probably is. If you suspect that you are dealing with a real estate fraudster, avoid solidifying your transaction with them, report the activity to the nearest police station around you. You can also report real estate fraud to EFCC. Visit their website https://efccnigeria.org/efcc/ and fill the report/complaint form.
Sincerely, we could go on and on about all the red flags to watch out for when dealing with real estate agents and companies but fraudsters are resilient and are constantly creating new, sneaky and unsuspecting ways to rob people of their money. We are all advised to be vigilant, be observant, make thorough research before deciding to do business with any real estate agent or company and above all things, only do business with tested and trusted real estate companies like Pertinence Limited.
Kindly share in the comments section other notable red flags that people should look out for when dealing with fraudulent real estate agents and companies.