The real estate industry in NYC is known to host fraud frenzies like no other. Its size makes the city a great place for predators to hide, but don’t let that get you discouraged! Identifying a scam is your strongest defense, so take notes on the tips in this article and you’ll find yourself well-equipped against the classic NYC pitfalls of relocating.
Fake Listings and Agents
Before you hand over a nonrefundable application fee, be sure the listing and agent are legitimate. You can Google the address to find out if the listing is posted on any other sites to confirm that it’s actually on the market. Also, verify the agent’s history through Google and even request their physical real estate license on location. They are required, by law, to carry this on their person. Make sure to use this easy check-point before involving the exchange of any money.
Another fake listing type occurs when a scammer occupies an Airbnb and then lists it as a sublet. When the time comes to take residence in your trendy furnished pad, the listing contact is nowhere in sight and neither is your money. In this case, fraud can be avoided by requesting a copy of the lease to be sure the lister is the legal renter and that they have the legal right to sublet. Again, simple research is the solution to these city swindles.
Too-good-to-be-true listings are hard to accept as red flags, but you should trust your gut on these doozies. Arm yourself with an understanding of market rate in your area of interest. An apartment with an unusually low price is often coupled with deceptively advertised rooms and features.
Always ask for a floor plan and/or square footage. Look into sites like NakedApartments.com or StreetEasy.com to get a better sense of prices in specific areas. Both offer tools that filter price range, size, and location to help you navigate the realistic offerings by neighborhood. The number of windows is also important as some rooms might just be illegally converted closets. It might sound silly, but when you hear about people “living in a closet” in the city, it’s often not a joke.
Moving Company Scams
You’ve made it past the obstacle course of digging through fake agents and navigating misleading listings. Doing your research at this stage should be high-priority because, although unassuming, these people are in control of all your worldly possessions.
Ask your friends for recommendations, check reviews online, and take the extra step to make sure moving company sites are legitimate by confirming that the address and contact information are live. Some scam artists create fake company profiles, load up your belongings and never deliver. Don’t find yourself waiting in an empty apartment wishing you took the time to click a few links and make a few phone calls.
Be wary of any unusually low moving estimates. Companies in the city are infamous for luring you in with low rates and then refusing to finish the delivery until you agree to the new price. Read the terms of contract carefully and don’t be afraid to ask questions as the language can often be ambiguous.
Research is the strategic and simple solve for all the swarming dangers of relocation, but solid investigation can be time consuming. To save yourself some hassle, direct your search through a real estate brokerage to let the industry professionals handle all the details. And make sure, above all, to reach out to one of our agents at Platinum Properties with any questions about your move!