Last updated on December 5th, 2023 at 08:43 am

Quick Facts

  •  Fake real estate agents are unlicensed individuals who attempt to pose as legitimate real estate professionals.
  • Fake realtors often require potential buyers and renters to pay a fee upfront, such as a security deposit or application fee, before they can view the property.
  • They may also ask for personal information, such as Social Security numbers, to complete the transaction.

When you’re buying or selling a property, one important choice you’ll have to make is selecting the best realtor.

With so many agents on the market who can you be sure that you’re working with is a real agent? 

It’s true that there many fake realtors that take advantage of unsuspecting buyers as well as sellers, and it’s important to know how to identify these scammers.

The real estate market is extremely competitive, and fraudsters always find new methods to profit of the public.

It doesn’t matter if they’re posing as an authentic agent or employing tricks to deceive clients, fake agents can cause serious emotional and financial damage.

Many fraudsters are now posing as we buy home companies who will buy your property in cash! 

It is paramountto recognize warning signs and to protect yourself from falling prey to real estate scams.

If you’re looking for an agent in real estate knowing the warning signs that point to an untrusted agent is paramount.

By being aware and alert you will be able to ensure an easy and secure property transaction.

We’ll detail the most effective methods to identify fake real estate agents and guard yourself against potential frauds.

We’ll also go over the best practices for closing a sale and ways to verify the identity of clients.

 

What is a fake real estate agent

When it comes to real estate transactions, it’s crucial to work with a trustworthy and reliable professional.

However, the unfortunate reality is that there are individuals out there who pose as real estate agents but lack the necessary qualifications or credentials.

These impostors can cause potential harm to unsuspecting clients. So, what exactly defines a fake real estate agent?

Understanding the Impersonation

A fake real estate agent is someone who presents themselves as a licensed professional in the industry but lacks the proper credentials.

They may either fabricate their qualifications entirely or misrepresent their level of expertise in order to gain the trust of unsuspecting clients.

These individuals often take advantage of the complexities within the real estate market and exploit the vulnerability of buyers and sellers.

Red Flags to Look Out For

To safeguard yourself from falling victim to a fake real estate agent, it’s important to be aware of the warning signs. Here are some red flags that should raise concerns:

Lack of License or Certification

A genuine real estate agent should be registered and possess a valid license or certification to practice in their respective jurisdiction.

Verify their credentials with the appropriate regulatory bodies to ensure their legitimacy.

Suspicious Behavior or Unprofessionalism

Pay attention to the behavior and professionalism of the real estate agent.

If they exhibit unprofessional conduct, such as failing to follow ethical guidelines, pushing you into hasty decisions, or displaying a lack of knowledge about the industry and local market, it’s a warning sign to consider.

Inconsistent or Dubious Documentation

A reliable real estate agent will provide clear and transparent documentation throughout the buying or selling process.

If you notice inconsistencies, discrepancies, or feel pressured to sign documents without thoroughly understanding their content, it’s essential to proceed with caution.

Requesting Upfront Payments or Unusual Financial Demands

Legitimate real estate professionals typically earn their commission upon successful completion of the transaction.

Be wary of agents who request upfront payments or engage in any financial practices that seem questionable or go against industry norms.

  • In the United States, 1 in 5 real estate agents are fake, according to a 2018 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
  • In the same survey, it was found that fake agents account for 20% of all real estate transactions in the US.

Verifying a Real Estate Agent’s License and Credential

One of the most important steps in hiring a real estate agent is verifying their license and credentials.

This ensures that you are working with a legitimate professional who has the necessary qualifications and is authorized to represent you in your real estate transactions. 

Check with the State Regulatory Body:

Each state has a regulatory body or board that oversees real estate professionals.

Visit the website of your state’s regulatory body and use their online search tool to verify the agent’s license.

This search tool will provide information about the agent’s licensing status, disciplinary actions (if any), and any additional credentials they hold.

Verify the License Number:

Once you have obtained the agent’s license number, double-check it against the state’s regulatory body’s records.

Look for Additional Certifications or Designations:

In addition to a real estate license, many agents obtain additional certifications or designations to showcase their expertise in specific areas.

Some common certifications include Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), and Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB).

These certifications indicate that the agent has undergone additional training and has specialized knowledge.

TREC haș a page that allows you search for any disciplinary actions that have been taken against any agents. 

Ask the agent to provide you with a list of homes they have recently sold or are currently listing.

What are some things to watch out for when working with an agent

  1. Poor communication: If the agent is unresponsive or takes an extended period to reply to your messages or calls, it could be a sign of their lack of commitment or dedication to your needs.

  2. Lack of local market knowledge: A competent real estate agent should have a solid understanding of the local market, including recent sales, neighborhood trends, and property values. If your agent appears uninformed or provides inaccurate information, it might indicate a lack of expertise.

  3. Pressure tactics: Be cautious if your agent pushes you into making quick decisions or tries to persuade you to buy or sell a property fast in San Antonio TX that doesn’t align with your needs or preferences. They should respect your timeline and help you make informed decisions.

  4. Dual agency conflicts: Dual agency occurs when an agent represents both the buyer and the seller in a transaction. While legal in some places, it can create conflicts of interest. If your agent is representing both parties, ensure they provide fair and impartial advice and disclose all information transparently.

  5. Inadequate negotiation skills: One of the key roles of a real estate agent is to negotiate on your behalf. If your agent seems ineffective in negotiating prices or terms, it could lead to unfavorable outcomes for you.

  6. Unprofessional behavior: Watch out for signs of unprofessionalism, such as consistently arriving late, not following through on commitments, or displaying a lack of respect. A professional agent should conduct themselves with integrity and professionalism.

  7. Pushing beyond your budget: If your agent consistently suggests properties or encourages you to spend more than your budget allows, it may indicate a lack of respect for your financial limitations. A good agent should help you find properties within your price range.

  8. Limited availability: While real estate agents have multiple clients, they should still make time for you and prioritize your needs. If your agent frequently cancels appointments or is consistently unavailable, it might be a sign that they are not giving your transaction the attention it deserves.

  9. Lack of transparency: Your agent should provide you with all relevant information about a property, including any known issues or potential concerns. If you suspect your agent is withholding information or being evasive, it could be a red flag.

  10. Unreasonable fees or charges: Real estate agents earn a commission on transactions, which are typically a percentage of the sale price. If your agent’s fees or charges seem unusually high or they introduce unexpected costs, it’s important to question and clarify the reason behind them.

Types of Properties Handled

When it comes to spotting a fake real estate agent, it’s important to understand the different types of properties they may claim to handle.

These individuals often try to take advantage of unsuspecting buyers and sellers by posing as legitimate professionals. 

Residential Properties:

Fake real estate agents may target residential properties, including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments.

They may advertise these properties for sale or rent and try to attract potential buyers or tenants with enticing offers. 

Commercial Properties:

Commercial properties, such as office buildings, retail spaces, and industrial facilities, are also at risk of being targeted by fake real estate agents.

These individuals may pose as experts in commercial real estate and promise lucrative investment opportunities.

Vacation Properties:

Another area where fake real estate agents might operate is in the realm of vacation properties.

They may claim to have access to exclusive vacation homes, luxury resorts, or timeshare arrangements.

Beware of unusually low prices or high-pressure sales tactics.

New Developments:

New developments, such as condominiums or housing projects, can be attractive targets for dishonest agents.

They may offer pre-construction deals or promise substantial returns on investment.

Remember, the presence of fake real estate agents does not mean that every agent is fraudulent.

Stay Safe When Listing Your Property

Protect yourself from potential scams when listing your property by verifying the credentials of any real estate agent you work with, avoiding quick decisions or deals that are too good to be true, and enlisting the help of a licensed attorney for legal assistance. 

You are going to letting someone list your house, so spend some time verifying who you are working with.

  • Don’t provide personal information until you’ve confirmed legitimacy, and stay vigilant against common email alert scams and thieves during showings (expensive jewelry, house keys).  

Common Scams and Fraudulent Practices

When it comes to the real estate market, it’s essential to be aware of common scams and fraudulent practices that can put you at risk of financial loss or other damages.

Rental Scams:

In rental scams, fraudsters pose as landlords or property managers and advertise fake rental properties online.

They often ask for upfront payments or personal information before allowing you to view the property.

To avoid falling victim to rental scams, always meet the landlord or property manager in person, visit the property before making any payments, and be cautious of deals that seem too good to be true.

Foreclosure Scams:

Foreclosure scams target homeowners who are facing financial difficulties and are at risk of losing their homes.

Scammers offer to help save their homes from foreclosure by charging upfront fees or deceiving them into signing over their property.

To avoid foreclosure scams, work directly with your mortgage lender or a reputable foreclosure prevention counselor.

Be wary of anyone who promises to stop foreclosure for a fee.

Identity Theft:

Identity theft is a common fraudulent practice in the real estate industry.

Scammers may use stolen personal information to impersonate homeowners, obtain loans or mortgages in their name, or sell their properties without their knowledge.

Protect yourself from identity theft by safeguarding your personal information, regularly monitoring your credit report, and being cautious of sharing sensitive information online or over the phone.

They won’t use their real name

Today, people are more savvy than they used to be, leading to avoid falling victim to fraudsters.

However, the majority are unable to distinguish genuine agents and disguised agent.

The majority of fraudsters do not have their original names to avoid being tracked and arrested.

They appear well-dressed and attractive, which makes you believe they are hungry wolves.

Any narrative they might present about themselves is a complete fake. It is mandatory to ask for the company’s number and request to speak to the customer service representative.

It’s possible that they are prepared for this scenario, however, in the majority of cases they don’t.

If they start to muddle words or make excuses, then the answer might be staring you in the face. 

They use another companies marketing materials

Some people will do anything to scam others out of their money.

They may even attend meetings held by a real estate company to pose as agents.

This allows them to access company marketing materials and deceive people into thinking they are legitimate.

However, it does not mean they have all the knowledge they claim to have. To besure, ask them detailed questions about real estate and observe their responses.

They will negotiate the price too early

Fake individuals are only interested in taking your money and not helping you secure the property.

If you show no interest or say you can’t afford at the price, they will likely discount the amount too fast!

They will try and get you to make a decision immediately

A real estate agent’s role is not just to sell properties, but to guide buyers through the process.

They have extensive knowledge of different locations and their potential.

A real estate agent won’t pressure you into making a purchase on the same day.

They will educate you about real estate and provide you with information.

If you’re not interested, they may leave a flier and move on.

They understand that there’s no need to exchange contacts immediately but provide contact information for future reference.

They are patient and not in a hurry.

A fake real estate agent lies to make you think they’re helping you and that offer will close soon.

They try to confuse and rush you into making a quick payment.

What are the consequences of working with a fake real estate agent

  • Financial Fraud: One major consequence of working with a fake real estate agent is the potential of financial fraud. These scammers can trick you into paying for a property that does not exist or is not actually for sale.
  • No Legal Recourse: If something goes wrong during the transaction, you will have no legal recourse because the fake agent is operating illegally.
  • Loss of Money: A fake real estate agent can disappear after collecting money, leaving you with a heavy financial loss.
  • Identity Theft: Giving your personal information to a fake agent increases your risk of identity theft. They could misuse this information to carry out fraudulent activities.
  • Wrong Property Valuation: You may end up paying much more for a property than it is worth because a fake agent is not likely to provide a correct valuation.

How do fake agents find their victims

  • Internet Listings and Social Media: They often post attractive but fake listings on legitimate real estate websites or social media platforms. These listings usually feature properties at a price that is significantly lower than the market rate to attract potential victims.
  • Unsolicited Contacts: Fake agents might contact people directly via email, text message or phone call based on contact information sourced from a variety of online and offline list sources, posing as a real estate agent.

Reporting and Taking Action

Here are the steps you can take to report and take appropriate action:

Document the Evidence:

Collect all the evidence you have gathered during your interactions with the fake real estate agent.

This includes emails, text messages, contracts, and any other relevant documents.

Make sure to organize them chronologically and create a clear timeline of events.

Contact Local Authorities:

Report the fake real estate agent to your local law enforcement authorities or the real estate regulatory body in your area.

Provide them with all the evidence you have collected and provide a detailed account of your experience.

This will help the authorities in their investigation and may prevent others from falling victim to the same scam.

Reach Out to Consumer Protection Agencies:

Contact consumer protection agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Better Business Bureau (BBB), to report the fraudulent activities of the fake real estate agent.

These agencies are equipped to handle complaints and can take appropriate action against scammers.

File a Complaint with the Real Estate Board:

If the fake real estate agent is a licensed professional, it’s essential to report them to the relevant real estate board or regulatory body.

Provide them with all the evidence you have collected, and they will investigate the matter and take necessary disciplinary actions.

Warn Others:

Help protect others from falling into the same trap by sharing your experience with others.

Write reviews on reputable real estate websites, social media platforms, or community forums.

This will raise awareness and serve as a cautionary note for potential victims.

Final Thoughts 

Real agents are identified and verified by their company and are authorized to speak on behalf of the company.

However, it is important to be cautious as some individuals may falsely claim to be real estate agents by using fake company fliers and providing misleading information.

To avoid becoming a victim watch out for the common tendencies of fake agents. 

If you think anything is wrong hang up the phone,  or thank them for the time and move on.