Buying a home is a whirlwind of excitement, paperwork, and changes. While it can be a time to celebrate, it’s also a vulnerable time where some not-so-great people try and take advantage of. Luckily, many homeowners never experience a scam, the unfortunate reality is that some do fall victim to home ownership scams.
The best thing you can do to watch out for scams is do your research, talk to your realtor, and trust your gut. If something feels off, chances are it is! With that, here are some common scams to be mindful of as a homeowner:
Hot Water Scam
Someone calls you to say your hot water heater needs to be inspected, and if not you will be fined by the provincial government. The men are posing as hot water inspectors and are falsely claiming to fix things in the home, while on the lookout for money or valuables they can take.
How to avoid it: A quick Google search or a call to your hot water company, or even 411. If you get a call claiming you might owe money or be fined, look into it before agreeing. Especially if you’ve never heard of it before.
You move into a new house and get a knock on your door. “Hey, is this house for rent?” Um, nope! You do some digging and realize someone posted your home for rent. Someone is using your address and claiming the deposits for their self and ripping off renters.
How to avoid it: While you can’t avoid this scam unfortunately, you can take action. Call the police right away, get as much information from the people who knock, and provide information to the police when you can to assist in the investigation. You are not at fault here, and it sucks others are being ripped off. The best thing you can do is help find the person responsible.
Moving into a new home means all new utility bill set-ups. So, when you get a call from a utility company claiming you owe money, it doesn’t sound too fishy. But, the amount is high and they’re asking for a check or credit card. That seems strange, doesn’t it?
How to avoid it: Contact the previous owners, and ask for information about the utility company from the caller. You can even talk to your realtor if you need more information. Don’t pay anything until you verify it.
The “Too Good” Rate Scam
In the rush of putting in an offer for the new home, you suddenly need to find a loan. A company offers you a low credit rate and says you qualify. Great! As you go down the path of securing the loan before closing, the “lender” adds in a ton of new terms and adjustments. It’s too late to back out now – the home is closing! So you sign on and end up way in over your head.
How to avoid it: Work with your bank, realtor, or a trusted lender. Don’t get caught up in low rates that don’t make sense. Remember, if it’s too good to be true – it probably isn’t true!
Outsmart the Scammers
Rest easy knowing many scams can be avoided. By taking the time to slow down, do some research, talk to other trusted people (friends, family, your lawyer or realtor), and following your gut feeling, you can avoid common homeowner scams.
If you feel worried, talk to your realtor and learn more about the common scams and how to avoid them. Your realtor will know what’s par for the course of buying and selling a home, and has experience with the process. Anything that seems out of the ordinary is an instant red flag.
By being aware of the scams, you’re already protecting yourself.