CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Land scams are on the rise in North Carolina, prompting a warning from the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.
“Even if it’s just earnest money or a due diligence fee or something, they’re looking for cash,” said Janet Thoren, Legal Counsel with the North Carolina Real Estate Commission.
The Commission is warning brokers and buyers to watch out for a growing trend; people posing as owners of properties in order to make a quick buck.
Their stories typically entail trying to sell or lease their property from another state or country.
Thoren gave an example of how the conversation goes, “You can’t see the house, so you’re going to if you really want it, I got get all these people lined up to lease this house at this great rate, and if you really want it, you’re going to need to take it now,” she said. “And sometimes they get a bite.”
Thoren says some of them are succeeding.
“A few of them are getting they have gotten money, and so it’s concerning,” she said.
Renters could end up sending thousands to the person posing as the owner. Home buyers could lose out on their due diligence fee, and the house. In one case, two separate real estate agents put “for sale” signs on a lot only to find out from the rightful owner that the property was never for sale.
“We’ve heard about quite a few of these down in the coastal areas down around the Wilmington area,” Thoren said. “I think it’s going on quite a bit down there. So, I think that I think everyone needs to be aware of what’s happening and on alert.”
The scammers are typically asking for a quick close in cash, and they usually want to close the deal electronically, which is why they’re also difficult to catch.
Thoren suggests agents get a photo ID of the client to verify the person is the rightful owner.