Buyer Beware: Worldwide, National, Santa Cruz Homes and Scams

Posted by Lauren Spencer on Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 at 11:01pm.

Whether you’re looking at Santa Cruz homes, homes across the nation or homes abroad, there's always the possibility of getting caught in a scam.

Many potential homebuyers and renters choose to go it alone and find the home of their dreams without professional help. While this method of house hunting works for some it definitely doesn’t work for all, and the consequences often far outweigh the benefits. Yes, the same can apply for home sellers as well!

Real Estate Scams
Here are a few real estate scams to watch out for:

• Down Payment Assistance Programs are wonderful gifts for potential buyers of Santa Cruz homes. However, there are certain rules that have to be followed for this down payment gift to be legal. For instance, as a gift, the homebuyer doesn’t have to pay it back. Some unscrupulous companies offer Down Payment Assistance Programs but expect the money back. This isn’t a gift; it’s a loan, and illegal if the program is listed as “down payment assistance."

• Property flipping scams happen when a con artist buys a home and sells it as an investment opportunity with zero down payment, no closing costs, low interest rate, etc. Although it sounds like a great deal, it becomes a scam when the house is severely overpriced and the buyer pays way more than the house is worth.

• Craigslist is an excellent resource for those wanting to buy or sell something. However, it is also a great source for con artists, who have turned their eyes to the real estate market. The scammers take information from legitimate listings on other websites (such as REALTOR® websites) and post it as their own on Craigslist. They often mention that they had to move for some reason, but can still rent/sell the home. All the buyers or renters have to do is send them their personal information and the first month’s rent or down payment.

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget to protect yourself. Be cautious when looking for Santa Cruz homes or selling them. Always check references and backgrounds. As well, if the home seller is in another country or another state, ask them if they’d be willing to use a local real estate agent.  Then be sure to verify the agent’s credentials.

If you want to buy or sell a house and need a professional, I can help. Call me at 831.662.6522 or email me at for more information.


Down Payment Assistance Programs

Property flipping scams




About Lauren Spencer

Award-Winning Santa Cruz REALTOR®

Lauren Spencer is your local real estate expert, specializing in Santa Cruz real estate and surrounding communities—this is where she lives, works, and plays too. Let her know your questions about the community and county and she'll be happy to fill you in on all you want to know! Lauren Spencer has consistently been voted best local REALTOR in Santa Cruz and is always happy to offer her advice and expertise. Call her at: 800.226.4717.

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