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How to Avoid Real Estate Scams and Hoaxes

If you want to buy a condo unit, a piece of land or property in any part of the Philippines, take heed of the following tips that will help you from being scammed.

  1. Always check if the Transfer Certificate of Title is authentic.

    • Ask the seller for a photocopy of the title.
    • Go to the Registry of Deeds and get the Certified True Copy of the Title. Before heading there, ask the seller of the property for the title number and the name of the owner.
  1. Deal only with licensed real estate brokers.

    • Demand for an identification. Professional real estate brokers should have licenses. If they can’t provide one, then just walk away.
    • To confirm if your agent has a license, call the Professional Regulatory Commission +632 735 1248 and 310 0026.
    • If the property is interesting enough, the owners/developers would have contracted out its sales and marketing to real estate agencies.  Start searching for the official real estate agencies of the property as they are more than willing to give you a list of their licensed agents.
    • Conduct all payment transactions in the real estate or developer office to eliminate all fake agents. Make sure that there are witnesses to the transaction.  Document the payment further by taking a photo with the agent holding the check.
  1. If your developer is delayed with the turn over of the condo unit, make sure all your records are complete.

In case you need to file a lawsuit, your best bet is your documents:

    • Reservation Fee receipt
    • Contract To Sell
    • All other receipts (insurance, tax, miscellaneous)

If you believe you are a victim of a fraudulent transaction, report it to the National Bureau of Investigation, +632 525 4093 or 524 6395.

  1. Never pay cash to a real estate agent, land owner or representative.

    • Make all payments in checks.as they can be traced.
    • Even if you are renting an apartment, there ought to be an official receipt from a real estate firm. If not, delay the payment and prepare a receipt yourself and have him/her sign.
    • If the agent says he forgot to bring an official receipt, even if you came ready to make that purchase on your dream house, don’t.
  1. Be careful when searching for accommodations online.

    • If you’re in another city with plans to rent an apartment or condo unit, and you went searching for accommodations online, discard those replies if the owner, agent or representative claim to be overseas and can’t pass you the keys. They are likely not the real owners but instead are scammers.
    • The photos of the flat or property they email you are not proof that they are owners. Usually, the flat is too good to be true, as the unit is well located and is available at a very cheap price. Scammers send you the lease contract on the first or 2nd email and are likely to insist that you sign, and immediately send payments
    • You’re better off asking a friend to physically check the flat for you. Demand a tour of the property or the interior of the unit by the owner.
  1. Information is the key to avoiding scams.

    • Go online and search for articles and reviews on the property, the developer, owner or the area. You may learn if there are structural defects, violations of building codes, legal cases etc.
    • To find if there are any scams associated with the developer, agent or the housing project.
    • Google keywords (developer, agent or the housing project) and the word “scam”.
    • Do an ocular inspection of the property you want to buy.
    • To erase any doubts, hire a private investigator to do a background investigation to know who you are dealing with.

It is better to err on the side of caution. Remember, there is no need to rush headlong if you have any doubts. It is your hard earned money you will be losing if you get swindled. It is far better to delay and be sure of what you are getting into and where your money is going.

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