Tag: property

Six property scams to avoid

A recent article by Business Tech highlights the leading property scams to avoid.

Engel & Völkers singled out the most predominant property scams you may encounter while searching to buy or rent property:

1. Intercepted emails

This involves scammers, hacking into the email of people involved in the transactions, such as agents or lawyers, by tricking home buyers into wiring funds to them instead of the appropriate parties. They often will use a generic email address indicating that the funds should be wired to a specific account which will then vanish without a paper trail.

2. Fraudsters posing as a buyer

They will approach a seller privately and show keen interest in the property and put in an offer. After a few days, the supposed buyer will contact the seller asking for a document to be signed to help them get their home loan approved, which the seller then signs without reading too much of the document only to discover later that a third party claims to have bought the home.
It will be found that the scam artist (the first buyer) has been marketing the home online as an agent, by taking the photos off various websites, and has found a buyer who is also unaware that something is wrong – and who might have paid a large deposit over to the supposed agent.

3. Identity theft

Criminals have become much more experienced and are using stolen identity details not only to empty bank accounts but to obtain various credit accounts and even home loans. They are able to delay detection of the fraud for long periods while the unpaid bills and instalments mount up.

The scammer will use false documents to pose as the property owner, register forged documents transferring a property to their name, and then get a new mortgage against the property. After securing a mortgage or line of credit, the criminal takes the cash and disappears.

4. Bait and switch scheme

This occurs when a prospective buyer offers an ‘above market value’ price to a seller. The seller, impressed by the high offer signs the contract, meanwhile the deceitful buyer has no intention to purchase the property.

Once the seller signs the contract, the seller may only sell to that buyer for a specified time, when that time ends the fraudster asks to extend the contract a few weeks to work out closing details. Sounding reasonable, the seller agrees to the extension blinded by the high offer.

In the meantime the seller keeps paying taxes, maintenance, utilities and insurance the buyer comes back to the seller with an excuse as to why this price no longer works, and requests a reduction to below market value and threatens to cancel if their demand is not met. Stressed by time and on-going costs, the seller agrees to the reduction.

5. Duplicated listings

“Agents” copy legitimate rental listings and advertise for a much cheaper price. Unfortunately, many people fall for these fake listings and wire money to the owners of these fake listings.

6. Fake rental agents

When you find a property you really like, you call the agent to arrange a viewing and they say they will meet you there. Later they call and say they won’t be able to make it anymore, but no need to worry the landlord will be there to show you around. The agent then promises to negotiate a lower price with the landlord.

When you arrive at the house you find many other people interested in renting the same place. You call the agent back to negotiate a better price that you’re happy with; they will phone you back shortly to inform you of the new price, all you have to do is transfer the money for the first two months to secure the place.

On moving day, you find someone else is moving in and the agent wasn’t an agent; they just found the property online and reposted it with their own contact information. They purposely send several people at a time to view the property to generate a sense of urgency for the potential renters.

Avoid becoming a victim

  • Be wary when you are requested to make a payment for something minor like a credit check or security deposit, in most cases, there’s nothing you can do to get your money back because the scammer can’t be tracked.
  • If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. Prices are considerably higher than they were a few years ago.
  • The email sounds strange – some listings hide the email address when you send a message, so you might not be able to see the address if you respond to the listing. Scammers usually use free email servers and they’ll often go by a series of random letters to make them less easily traceable.
  • The agent won’t show you the property – If you ask to see the property and they claim it’s impossible, it’s probably a fake listing. Agent will make time for people who are interested in the property.
  • The seller pushes you – the faster a scammer gets you to agree to a business deal, the faster they can steal your money and avoid getting caught. The seller will often use high-pressure tactics that attempt to push you into acting quickly in order to purchase the home. Don’t be prodded by any seller to send money.
  • The seller asks you to wire money – when you see the term “wire money” or similar variation of that phrase come up in a business conversation with someone you’ve never met, red flags should go up. Many scams entail wiring of funds because it’s more difficult to trace and enables the scammer to collect the money sooner. Scammers will come up with a variety of plausible reasons why the money should be wired rather than sent through a bank or lawyer.
  • The buyer or seller is foreign and wants to buy a home unseen – most people want to at least see a property and become familiar with the area before making a large investment. This doesn’t mean you should be wary of all foreign inquiries, but many scams often occur overseas because it’s harder to trace the person behind the fraud. Foreign buyers who don’t ask questions, act in haste, and don’t care to see the property indicate a high likelihood of fraud.
  • Be well informed about market related prices within the area you are looking to rent or buy. If a property is advertised way below the market related price for that area it should raise your concerns.
  • If you found a “bargain” online you should call the estate agency to find out if the deal is for real. Don’t call the number at the bottom of the ad because this number could lead to a fake office. Rather find the actual office number, call there and ask the receptionist to give you the number of the specific agent or branch you are looking for.
  • Be wary of agents and landlord who seem too eager or pushy to get you to live in their property or one they are marketing. A legit agent or landlord will always conduct the necessary checks and will not be too disappointed when you don’t show much interest in the property.
  • If the agent is constantly making up excuses as to why they are not able to meet you or show you the property, you should also be worried. The chances are good that they don’t have access to the property and are stalling for time until they can think of a clever way to get you to pay the deposit.
  • Never pay a deposit before you have viewed a property.

Source: Business Tech

Co-working spaces, the trend that is shaking up the traditional workplace model the world over, is set to cause a dramatic change in how and where people work in South Africa.

Linda Trim, director of FutureSpace – a joint venture between Investec Property and workplace specialists Giant Leap that offers high end co-working space, says that in 2016, there were approximately 11 000 co-working locations around the world.

“But this figure is expected to more than double to 26 000 by 2020. By comparison, there are approximately 24 000 Starbucks locations worldwide. Taking a cue from the popular reference to the coffee giant’s location strategy, that means there may soon be a co-working space on every corner.”

Trim noted that co-working spaces were increasingly popular with strong demand for FutureSpace’s offices.

“We already have steady 80% occupancy rate only three months after launching.”

FutureSpace plans to open further offices around South Africa, a possibly overseas in 2018 such is the demand.

The biggest shift Trim expects to see in the coming years is that co-workspace will become a key component of many companies’ workplace and real estate strategies — for occupiers and building owners alike.

“Flexible workspace is not just for millennial freelancers or tech startups anymore. Large, multinational companies are increasingly taking on space at flexible workspace operators or integrating shared working spaces into their own environments,” she noted.

For example, Microsoft recently shifted 70% of their sales staff in New York City to flexible workspace. Large employers already make up the fastest growing market for shared workspace provider and many businesses’ preferences are moving toward short-term real estate contracts with flexible provisions.

Companies like IBM and Microsoft have begun to outsource the design, building and management of some of their workspaces to third parties.

Says Trim: “In the same way we now purchase many technologies as services rather than as software, the future of ‘space as a service’ looks bright.

“This model provides companies with a way to access space in an on-demand fashion, drawing on the knowledge of outside experts in a way that frees them to focus on their own core businesses.”

Building owners are also finding opportunities to revitalise underused spaces by transforming them into the type of shared work areas that are increasingly in demand.

Already, many occupiers won’t consider a building without available flexible space. To remain relevant, commercial office buildings will need to create spaces that attract people to connect and collaborate — both within the office and outside of it.

In South Africa, as in the rest of the world, companies will soon need to think more about accessing office space than owning or leasing it.

This paradigm shift will require an evaluation of “core” and “flexible” space needs.

Core space is the real estate a company must rent or own over the long term for the business to function. Flexible space is the real estate that can be deployed quickly without long-term commitment, adjusting in near “real time” based on needs.

“By categorising space needs this way, businesses can make better decisions about how to execute a real estate strategy that minimises cost and maximises opportunities,” Trim adds.

One of the best examples of large companies adopting the flexible co-working workspace approach in Asia is HSBC’s recent contract for 400 desks in WeWork’s Tower 535 in Hong Kong.

“It created the right environment for their staff, working in the same location as other like-minded teams, including Hong Kong’s fin techs and other startups,” says Trim.

By making flexible workspace an integral part of an organisation’s workplace strategy, companies can not only provide employees with a valuable opportunity for choice and connectivity, but they can realise meaningful benefits thanks to flexibility.

In balancing core and flexible space needs, companies can reduce financial risks related to long-term space needs and be nimble in making changes as needed.

“Building owners can benefit from transforming underutilised spaces into shared working areas, which in turn can help attract and retain tenants, “ Trim concludes.

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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