Ah, Craigslist: Everyone’s go-to web resource for obscure knick-knacks, used furniture, job prospects and rental properties. In a post recently published on Unplgged, the tech-savvy branch of the DIY abode blog Apartment Therapy, tips and tricks are outlined for those looking to sell their stuff on the multi-city classifieds site. These pointers focus primarily on good, modest photography that showcase your hand-me-down wears at their best, and in their surroundings, in order to sway potential buyers. If detailed photos and descriptions are good for hawking your used furniture, why not apply the same logic to apartments and rental properties?
The Unplgged post led to us pondering Craigslist and its relationship with real estate in general. It’s easy to come up with a correlation between the user-generated postings and real estate listings on Craigslist, while making note of how the Unplugged tips can apply to real estate agents that need a little something extra for their listings. Listing properties on Craigslist can be a quick, cheap and easy way to syndicate a real estate listing and get it exposure not otherwise provided by a region’s Multiple Listing Service. A simple “FOR RENT” post for an apartment or home can provide just the boost a property needs to get it rented or sold.
But, with all good things free and easy comes temptation for abuse. In a post published last summer on Canonfire entitled Scammin’, it’s pointed out that finding real ads amidst the con artistry can prove to be a difficult task for consumers. In the post, three scams are exposed and it explains how these scams are designed to take advantage of would be renter’s who are just trying to find a place to live. Here’s a look at the top 3 Craigslist rental scams:
- Scam number 1 is a rental ad that contains no name, phone number or property location and the only means of contact is an email address. When a potential renter inquires about the property they are asked to fill-out a rental application, send it back, and then they will receive more property information …but they never do. This type ad is usually a “phishing” attempt to get personal information, including a social security number, on a rental application for a property that does not exist.
- Scam number 2 appears to be an ad to lease an actual home, but instead, is a ploy to get renters to move in a home that is pending foreclosure. In this case, the individual placing the ad pockets rental money without paying their mortgage company …all the while, the home is in foreclosure proceedings and the renter will be evicted once the foreclosure is final.
- Scam number 3 is an ad to rent a property for an unbelievably low price. When those seeking to rent call they are connected with a rental agency that induces them into paying $170+/- for a “list” that has addresses of several unbelievably priced properties. Needless to say, the addresses for the unbelievably low priced rental properties do not exist or the properties were conveniently rented as soon as the list was delivered.
In an age where people prefer to tweet their thoughts or click a “Like” button on Facebook in order to form an opinion, websites like Craigslist are fast becoming a go to source for listing agents and renters, as well as Internet predators looking to take advantage of the naive. Thus, when using such sites to find bargains or list properties, all users should probably use caution since this is a medium that has been associated with scam artists. The Latin Phrase “Caveat Emptor”, meaning Let the buyer beware, has never rang more true.