How to Avoid a “We Buy Houses” Scam

If you’re considering selling your house, you’re likely familiar with the option of hiring a real estate agent to help you list it. However, many people may not be as familiar with is the process of selling your house to a real estate investor like We Buy Lancaster Houses. This gap in peoples understanding can open folks up to scammers and the “bad seeds” of the house buying business. These con artists aren’t real, reputable cash buyers, but will portray themselves to be.

It’s important to note, however, that selling your house “as-is” to a cash buyer or real estate investor IS a perfectly viable option, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you need to sell quickly. That said, it’s extremely important to understand the process and carefully vet anyone who claims to be a real estate investor or cash buyer.

We Buy Houses Sign

Make Sure They’re Real People

It’s happening constantly these days.  You get a phone call or a voicemail and sometimes you didn’t even hear the phone ring! They say that they’re a real estate investor and are interested in purchasing your house. Sometimes you could even be the one that made contact initially by calling one of those “We Buy Houses” signs you see littering light posts or highways. How do you know the person on the other end of the line is real, legitimate and even located in the State of Pennsylvania?

The best way to begin is by asking specific questions. What’s the company’s name and where are they located? Where can I find their website? Do they have google reviews you can check out? Would they be willing to connect you with their references? Always verify what they’re telling you and if they can’t be specific about any of these things that should be a huge red flag!  Don’t ignore them no matter how good they make it sound! Push for answers and don’t let up until you can verify everything you need to. It’s so much better to put in the work upfront of verifying rather than realizing further down the line that you’re dealing with a company that isn’t reputable and might be trying to scam you.

Are They Too Pushy?

Any legitimate and reputable real estate investor is going to want to get as much information as possible and also set up a time to meet you and see the home prior to making you an offer.  This should be obvious as how can someone possibly make you a fair offer for your house if they’ve never seen it? If someone is telling you otherwise, this should set off alarm bells in your head. Even if your upfront about the house being in very poor condition, a seasoned real estate investor will know that there are many versions of “very poor condition” or “needs some work”. They’ll need to see for themselves to understand if the rehab is going to take $10,000 or $100,000 and how much will be needed in order for them to make a profit.  They’re also going to need to look at things that many homeowners don’t think much about which includes plumbing, heating, roofing, electrical, and foundation.

If someone says they want to buy your house sight unseen, the offer they’re going to give you is likely not a legitimate one.

They Keep You Waiting

While reputable home buyers like We Buy Lancaster Houses are well funded and have the funds to complete the purchase, some scammers or newbie investors don’t.  Because of this, they’ll often need to figure out how to sell your house to an actual real estate investor before they buy it from you. This can cause them to push back either signing a contract with you, or give them flexibility in when they’re going to close on your house.

Someone who is a scammer or non-legitimate investor will need to string you along until they can find a real buyer. So if they say they can’t close on your house right away but aren’t willing to put down any earnest money, it probably means they are just trying to buy time in order to find a real investor. If these people can’t find a buyer, they’ll just walk away from the transaction and stop returning your phone calls.  We’ve seen it time and time again.

Also be aware, because these scammers and newbies investors will often offer you the most for your house.  They don’t understand the expenses involved in rehabbing or buying properties.  We Buy Lancaster Houses gets calls all the time from these people trying to sell us your house at prices that don’t make sense for any true investor. This means that they won’t be able to sell the deal and will have wasted your time and often leave you in a much worse situation than when you began!

Understand the Basics of Selling Your House For Cash

Any reputable home buyer will NEVER make you pay any money up front. Period. We cover all of the upfront fees with the title company and paperwork and you will not need to come out of pocket to pay for anything during the contract period. If any potential “buyer” is asking for any fees or cash upfront, RUN.

A legit buyer will want to learn about your situation and your property and create an offer and transaction that will fit your needs. Everything about the offer will be in writing and there is again, NEVER ANY UPFRONT FEES. There’s no obligation to take our offer, and it’s always free to get one.

If you accept their offer, you sign an agreement and that agreement is held along with an earnest money deposit by a reputable title company or title attorney. They should be upfront with you as far as where that money is being held and how to contact the title company if you were to have any questions. Reputable buyers like us are also always available to talk through any parts of the transaction or any questions you might have through the process.

Make Sure To Review the Contract

We always allow any seller as much time as they need to review our agreement of sale and even consult with an attorney if they want to. If someone is pressuring you to sign quickly, STOP. You’ll also want to make sure that there aren’t any clauses in the contract that will cause issues.  Many times, scammers will have contracts that are very one sided so that it’s easy for them to get out of it and impossible for you.  Reputable home buyers will always use fair contracts and will even go through the entire agreement with you line by line.

If you’re considering selling your house and want to work with a reputable and highly rated home buyer, give us a call today at (717) 715-0010 or fill out our form here to get started!

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