Are you checking Craigslist for rental properties and homes that are on the market?  Beware! The key to success on Craigslist (and other non-real estate sites) is to eliminate the scam ads.

Who Can You Trust?

I have bought and sold items on Craigslist for years.  Couches, cars and even a kitchen countertop and have dealt with many buyers who were less than  honest.  Unfortunately, there are deceitful  people who can show up on either side of the selling table.

Gulliblility (is that a word?)

What sometimes happens with real estate on Craigslist is that dishonest, criminal-minded people will search for an appealing property and post it for rent or sale, collect a significant deposit from some unsuspecting, out-of-towner who needs to move quickly and make a decision, sight unseen.  The victim then packs up their belongings and comes to town, pulls up in front of this property they’ve chosen only to discover that the house is inhabited and was never for rent or for sale!  Imagine the dismay!

So here are some of the ways that you can spot a scam ad on Craigslist and save yourself from such a scenario:

Cheap Rent

If you see a 3 bedroom 2 bath home for rent or sale and the  amount is too good to be true, it probably is.  Know the market in the area where you’re looking before you send a dime.

Vague Location

Craigslist scammer won’t give you an exact address.  He’ll give you a street name (if it’s a long and busy street) or a Neighborhood but they’ll say the actual address will be sent once they receive your money.  Don’t.  

Multiple Locations

You see the same property listed several times on Craigslist in different towns.  That’s not a mistake or a look-alike home.  The scammer assumes you are only looking in one area so feel safe in repeating the ad.  The more. People who see it, the more deposits he could ultimately collect.

You Can’t See Inside YET

The scammer can only meet you at a public place and not at the residence.  This is because he doesn’t have access to the property!  Again, you want to meet them but you also need to see the home.  

Sob Story Perfected

The scammer will generally have some sort of a sob story.  The price is so cheap because his mother died and he needs quick cash for the funeral, or someone is about to have open heart surgery and they don’t have health insurance, or they lost their job, there’s a million possibilities all designed to tug at your heartstrings.  Be sympathetic but not gullible.

Move Forward with Caution

This is not to say that all ads are Craigslist are scams.  There are some genuine, hard working people who are trying to sell their belongings the only way they know how.  So call the number or send an email but listen very carefully and think long and hard if you’re gut is telling you to flee.  Your gut knows best.