REAL ESTATE INFO: Scammers target private sellers

Selling your property privately online? You may want to check if someone else is also selling it, and at a huge discount to lure unsuspecting buyers.

You rent your property online easily, so why can you not sell it as well? That is the reasoning for many private sellers, and especially those who think they are saving a lot of cash through this process.

However, as more sellers are discovering, it is not that easy. An Ottawa-based private seller revealed this week that she found her house for sale on another site at almost half the listed price. Interested buyers, primarily international, are sent official looking legal documents and encouraged to lodge a deposit for a ‘quick sale.’

“There are new financial and real estate scams turning up all the time, but I have not seen an overall increase in scams in the past few years. However, the creativity and sophistication of scams do seem to get better and better,” says Claude Boiron, author and broker at Coldwell Banker Terrequity Realty.

Tracking the scams is difficult as many of the service providers are not based in Canada, with Boiron advising online sellers to be extra vigilant and cautious.

“Regularly check online for any unauthorized ads regarding your property during the selling or leasing process,” he advises. “Some aggregators may help sell your property, but anyone who modifies your ads, especially the asking price, is likely up to no good.”