It has happened a few times to us – expecially with the REO(real estate owned), or Vacant Listings. We received a phone call from a neighbor next to a listing we have in the San Fernando Valley. It is not the Santa Clarita Valley, but it happens here too.
The caller identified themselves as being a neighbor that I had made contact with when I took this listing a couple of weeks ago. I remembered the contact and asked them what was happening. They told me that they remembered the conversation and that I told them if anyone showed up at the property to give me a call. So, they were calling to tell me there was a U-Haul truck and a lot of activity at the home we had listed for sale.
I called Mr. Seller – he Responded to the home and was informed that those that were moving in had paid a “Real Estate agent” they met on Craigslist. The supposed “agent” told them they had a great deal on a Rental in Sun Valley where the owner would only accept a cash deposit. But they wanted to continue to market the property for sale(reason for my sign being posted). However, they would write into contract that it would be at least six months before the tenants had to vacate. In addition, the tenants would have an option to buy the home for below market value within the 6 month lease.
The above story is not the way for you to conduct your property leasing or rental acquisition needs. If you are searching for a Rental, you need to watch out. Now the Local Police Department is involved. Those that were trying to move in are without their “cash” deposit and without a place to live.
I’ll never forget something my dad used to say, “son, if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.” Find out who the representative of the “landlord” is. Get credentials and double check their name and office on line. When they hand you a card or don’t want to give you a card – those small hairs on the back of your neck should be standing tall. If you get a card that looks like it had been printed in the last couple of hours – start to worry. There are a lot of hungry folks out there that will use every trick or device possible to take advantage of others that are desperate.