Protecting yourself from Real Estate Fraud

We were very nearly caught – twice!
Putting our house up for sale should have been the easiest thing in the world. We lived in a great town, great area and great road. The houses were affordable and roomy. With a third child on the way, we felt we just needed more in the way of garden space.
So, we started to think about moving.

One of our friends knew a man called Martin. He told her he was interested in our house if we were serious about selling. We said yes, and he came round to view.
He looked in every room, examined the walls, tapped paving slabs outside, peered at views from all the windows and said he loved the house. He would, however need to alter a few things to increase some of the room sizes. We felt he really liked the place.

He made an offer which was the market price less the estate agent’s likely fee. We agreed as this was reasonable and it had saved us a lot of hassle. He told us to wait to hear from his solicitor.

We waited – and waited. We called him, he did not reply. We asked our friend and she said she could not get him to talk about it. She was really embarrassed. Then she told us he was looking at other houses. This guy got off on the power that being a potential buyer gave you. He had no intention of ever actually buying the houses.

Our second marketing attempt was through an estate agent. We decided not to risk going privately and we got a few people looking. One lady came back twice and the second time brought her friend. She said she loved the house and made an offer, which we accepted.
We waited and waited – again! We called the agent who said he was trying to contact her. Eventually he came back and this lady had made offers on three separate homes, all at different prices and with different agents. She was seeing which she could eventually afford.
We withdrew the house as we did not want to wait on her command. We lost the house we had really fallen in love with on the way, as we could not now move on time.

Our agent said that, apart from what people tell them verbally (and most are honest), they have no way of actually checking someone’s buying ability. It was only by talking to another agent that he realized they were both selling houses to this lady.

We have also had people come and see the house who cannot afford it – they made us an offer so low it was ridiculous – what do they expect us to do?

We had another who looked around and then said, quite openly that he was just comparing our house to his, which was similar, so he could get an idea of its value. He went out of the door much quicker than he came in!

It seems, when it comes to buying a home, there are many people out there who are out to see what they can get. While not openly defrauding sellers, they give he wrong information, lead them up the garden path and allow them to pin their hopes on a sale which will never come about.

To me, this is fraud and very dishonest.

Happily, we have a good ending. The elderly couple who owned the house we loved sold the house to a company. However, as soon as we got a firm buyer, I put a little note through the letter box and told the couple of our change of fortunes and thanked them for letting us view. We got a phone call the same day from the estate agent who said the elderly couple wanted us to have the house as they liked us and wanted it to remain family home. They had canceled the sale to the company. So, we ended up in the home we wanted – I really hope those dishonest ‘buyers’ get their come uppance.