Over the past few days I have received several calls from people who were suspicious about rental properties they were investigating. They approach me because when they Google the address of many properties it often brings them to my website through the IDX which is a feed from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
So often I become an information service. But I am glad I am able to stop some people from becoming victims of these scams which are becoming more and more common.
There are many sites which carry these false listings, Craigslist and Trulia being two of the more well-known. Criminals often look for legitimate property listings, either for sale or rent, and publish their own rental ads showing ridiculously low prices, and there are people who fall prey. The would-be renters are asked to send money after which they will be given the keys. They have never even seen the property.
How to avoid falling victim to one of these scams:
- Double check the listing to see if it is advertised on the local MLS. You can access the MLS as a guest. If you do happen to see it advertised there at a much higher price you can rely on that being the accurate one.
- Never send money site unseen. Many of these so-called landlords will tell you they are in another state and can’t show you the property. Any serious landlord is going to want to meet you and certainly want you to see their home. They will also want to check out your credentials: credit, work history, references, etc. You wouldn’t give someone you have never met keys to your home would you!
- Know, that if it sounds too good to be true it absolutely is. Good rentals in Los Angeles are hard to come by and they are not cheap.
- It seems that most of these scams are built around existing listings, so if all else fails call a real estate agent to help you flush out these scavengers.
If you are looking for a rental in the Los Angeles area, don’t hesitate to contact me for advice.
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