Shelter From the Sneakiest Real Estate Scams

Scams are a reality of real estate. Whether buying, selling or renting property, here’s what to know about some of the sneakiest schemes: Closing cons It starts with hacking the email accounts of real estate agents to steal details about clients and closing dates, often by tricking agents into clicking malware-infected links supposedly sent by a potential client. Scammers then follow with phone calls or other emails — posing as that agent, a title company, real estate attorney or the …

10 Tips to Avoid Rental Scams

Counting the days until summer vacation, downsizing, or are the kids heading off to college? Count on attempted rental rip-offs, which have earned perennial placement on many Top Scam lists throughout this decade. In the classic ruse, fraudsters simply steal photos and descriptions of properties from real estate, hotel or vacation rental websites and clone those ads — but with a bargain rental price. These phony ads are usually found on Craigslist, but also on newspaper websites, online chat boards …

Let the (Home) Buyer Beware

Looking to buy or sell a home in the coming weeks (a period that’s expected to be the busiest real estate season in eight years)? If so, beware of a new impersonation scam that targets real estate agents and others involved in house closings — specifically, their clients. It starts with an email to real estate agents (supposedly sent by an interested buyer) that includes an attached link. When the recipient opens the link, malware secretly infects the individual’s computer, …

Non-Traded REITs – Warning, Danger Ahead

Are you looking for income? One solution often pitched is private and non-traded REITs (real estate investment trusts). REITs raise money to buy income-producing real estate. In this low-yield environment, they are touted as having high yields and no market risk, and as alternatives to bonds. These days, REITs are selling like hotcakes. According to Investment News, sales doubled to $20 billion in 2013 from a year earlier. Sales were likely to be robust for 2014 as well, though the Wall …

Location, Location: Do Homes Near Graveyards Sell?

Would you have grave concerns about buying a home near a cemetery? The real estate brokerage Redfin was dying to know if homes near cemeteries, with rows and rows of tombstones, sell for less than homes a greater distance away. Turns out they sell for more – when they sell. Sign up for the AARP Money Matters newsletter The company compared sales prices of homes from 50 feet to 1,000 yards away from cemeteries in 90 metropolitan areas. On average, homes closer …

What’s Happened to Housing Affordability?

The National Association of Realtors announced earlier this year that its Housing Affordability Index shows 2012 was a record year for housing affordability.  Subsequently, articles appeared in the media with titles such as “Housing Today Is More Affordable Than at Any Time in History” and “2012 a Banner Year for Housing Affordability, Industry Group Says.” In addition, I’ve seen TV reports that continue to note how affordable housing has become. All of these are at odds with study findings presented …