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Our mission at The Gresh Group is to be your best resource for real estate advice. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or investor, our team of professionals can answer any questions you might have about real estate. Subscribe to this blog to get the latest news on local market trends and receive expert tips for buying or selling a home.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

3 Real Estate Scams You Need to Know About


There are three real estate scams I’ve become aware of recently that you need to know how to protect yourself against.
Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?

It can be a scary world out there. While the majority of people are good and honest, a few bad apples always try to take advantage of others.

Unfortunately, the real estate market is no different. Today I wanted to let you know about some real estate scams I've become aware of recently:

1. The mortgage closing scam. This scam is spreading across the country. It has become so prevalent that the FBI estimates it has led to over $1 billion in stolen or diverted funds in 2017 alone. It starts when hackers gain access to a real estate agent's email account. Then, when it's time to close a deal, the hackers, posing as the real estate agent, send instructions to the homebuyer on where to wire the money.

Of course, it is only after the buyer has sent thousands of dollars to an unknown bank account that the truth comes out—the real estate agent wasn't actually the one reaching out, and the buyer has been scammed.

2. Fake real estate lawyers. This scam is similar to the first one, in that the scammers will impersonate somebody legitimately involved with a deal. In this case, the hackers will impersonate a real estate lawyer who is associated with a particular home sale.  

Find a real estate agent you trust to represent your best interests.

3. The bait-and-switch. Unlike the first two scams, this scam targets sellers. It also doesn't require any hacking or impersonation—just a dishonest buyer. Here's how it works: A buyer makes an offer that's well above the listed price, the seller happily agrees, and the contract is signed.

But then, the buyer starts procrastinating, making excuses, and dragging out the process for months or even a year. In the meantime, the seller continues to pay costs for the home, and is getting more and more emotionally worn out. In the end, the unscrupulous buyer flatly says they can only buy the home at a lower price, usually under the listed price. And the seller, desperate by now, frequently agrees.

So, how can you protect yourself against these and other scams?

For one thing, avoid sending account information over email. Confirm everything over a phone call (to a number that you already know to be valid)—or even better, in person. And ultimately, find a real estate agent you trust to represent your best interests. 

If you are ever in need of a trustworthy real estate agent, my doors are always open. If you have any other questions or you are interested in buying or selling a home, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 703-328-3434 or email me at Janet@TheGreshGroup.com. I would be happy to help you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

3 Questions to Ask Any Agent Before You Hire Them


Before hiring a real estate agent, you need to do some vetting. Here are the questions that we recommend you ask.
Selling your Greater Washington DC area home?
Buying an Greater Washington DC area home?

Buying or selling a home is a major project. Having a trustworthy agent to guide you through that project can be an invaluable asset. But how can you vet potential real estate agents to see who would be a good fit for you? Here are three important questions you should ask to get started: 

1. "How many homes have you sold in the last 12 months?" Many real estate agents will tell you the number of years they have in the business. That's useful, but their recent activity can be more relevant than their total experience. Asking this question can tell you how well they know the market, as well as how successful you can expect them to be in your case.

Bonus Question: You will probably want to ask whether the agent works primarily with buyers or sellers, because many agents specialize to some extent in one or the other.

2. "Can I have the contact info for your last three deals?" Anybody can say they are a marvelously effective real estate agent. But talking to actual past clients can help you decide whether this is true or a bunch of hot air. When you do talk to a real estate agent's previous clients, you don't need to get too fancy to get useful information. Simply ask them to share their experience.  

You want to get a sense that this agent is somebody you can trust.

3. "What is your strategy for my specific needs?" As a buyer, you will want the agent to explain how they will search for your new home, how many homes you can expect to see, and how the agent handles multiple offers. As a seller, you will want to know how and where the agent will advertise your home. 

So what kinds of answers should you look for to these questions?

Ideally, you will want to get a sense that this agent is somebody you can trust and that you feel comfortable working with.

At the same time, you will want them to be experienced and diligent, as evidenced by recent successful deals and a concrete plan of action for your situation. 

If you ever want to know how I measure up on these questions, you can always give me a call at 703-328-3434 or send an email to Janet@TheGreshGroup.com. I'd love to hear what your specific situation is and whether I would be a good match to help you in the current Northern Virginia real estate market.