Like a pest in a host, scams are just as inevitable in any industry. Real Estate Philippines’ growth benefits the country’s economy and its people. Relentlessly, frauds are also on its on-the-job crawling under the sleeves of legit realtors and buyers, taking advantage of the current high market. The government’s effort through the Professional Regulation Commission and Integrated Professional Organization of Real Estate Practitioners is trying to help in preventing such cases, but these stunts are called dangerous for nothing. They know the maze of the business just as the licensed real estate brokers and agents. Although the red flag is high, it does not mean one would be discouraged from being a vigilant buyer. 

According to the news report of the Philippine News Agency, the National Bureau of Investigation Director Dante Gierran identified two suspects in multi-billion Batangas property scam last February 28, 2019. The culprits was eventually arrested by NBI who faced charges of syndicated estafa through the use of falsified documents and money laundering under Section 4 of Republic Act 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act. The fraud is not only happening for the touch-based residents but most especially for those workers overseas. Department of Labor and Employment said in a statement in the Business World, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are considered highly targeted of the illegal schemes was urged to be particularly wary of the incidents offering high returns than those offered by regulated institutions. 

One can avoid such danger if the ways and means of these frauds are prudently traced and familiarized. To classify cons from legit ones, there are several scams that one may want to start listing. 

Rental Scams

With the recent on-trend platform for property listing, people nowadays find houses and condominiums units online where scammers can easily sabotage. Hoax patrons can easily copy-paste the listings posted and represent themselves as agents in another site. The scheme begins as they would urgently ask for money, a security deposit or broker fee. One can smell the skin-deep already if these “agents” cannot show up for viewing or to meet the client in person but still ask to transfer funds to a certain bank account right away. There are many ways for this trick to be possible starting with making many bogus accounts, fake postings and property for rent or sale from just about nowhere. In this case, inquiring properties through a reputable online real estate platform is essentially important. Established companies are guaranteed reliable since they already built a reputation and brand to main. Plus, they have in-house brokers.

 Information Brokerage

This type of scheme is a team-up dupery. It involves two real estate agents joined together to increase the commission fee once the property is sold. The scenario will usually be practice by one agent representing the buyer and the other represents the seller. Poor owners and buyers do not have any idea what they are currently dealing with the two different brokers since they are not introduced. The set-up will just revolve around the two agents who happen to be the main mastermind in the transaction resulting in distortion of the property value since the commission will be shared. Such action is a clear violation of the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities for Real Estate Service Practitioners. Hence, buyers and sellers must tap brokers with proven legal backgrounds to protect their interests and to avoid decisiveness along the process. 

Forged Land Titles

Just to be one step higher in business, some people hunt for vacant lots they will represent as their property to be sold. These property thieves will look for copies of land titles and other pertinent papers referring to which are accessible to the public through local government agencies. Fake land titles can be conveniently obtained in notorious areas where fabricated documents are made at a very affordable price. To set it all done, scammers will simply put their name and details of the subject lot on the document. Dealing with highly regarded real estate agents and developers are the best way to prevent this fraud. Under Republic Act 9646, PRC license is a must for Philippine brokers. One may conduct own investigation by getting a Certified True Copy of the Title from the Register of Deeds. The office is commonly situated in the city or municipal government office where the property is located. One must obtain the title number and the full name of the owner to avail of documents. 

Bait for Buyers 

A kind of fraud where real estate agents post advertisements or marketing properties that they are not authorized at all. From there, the said agents will offer the properties at the lowest prices to catch victims. The con broker will eventually start to build rapport with the potential buyer and once the trust is gained, the play will officially begin. If the buyer looks convinced and interested, the agents will now make an excuse that the original property has already been sold and confidently offer an alternative property that the former is now accredited to sell. Homebuyers are advised to check the usual rates in the place where the supposed property they intend to purchase. It is quite suspicious if the property is offered at a very low price compared to other types of units, this is one of the warning signals in real estate scam. Be secured and ask the broker for a copy of their authorization to sell from the owner.    

Predatory Lending

Loan sharks smell desperation from their victims. They will lure those in need with much tempting offers such as a 15% monthly interest rate which surely put one on bad credit. Illegal lenders present their scams through stickers, flyers, and posters. Target victims are those eligible to acquire loans from the bank, SSS, and Pag-IBIG housing loan. 

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