If you’re on the hunt for a new home right now, there is no way to get around virtual tours. With lockdowns and travel restrictions in place in countless areas, checking out a potential new home online is often the only way.
Unfortunately, scammers know that too.
From glossing over dubious areas of the property during 3D walkthroughs to flat-out lying on listings, swindlers are leveraging virtual-only home searches. Here are five ways to protect yourself.
1. Verify, verify, verify.
The first thing to do when you come across a listing you like is to do a background check. On the property. And on the person listing it.
Run the images that come with the listing through a reverse Google image search. This will show you if scammers have stolen them from other (real) listings to use in their fake ones. Also run the text from the listing through Google. Many swindlers use the same phrasing for multiple scams.
即使做得相当好，虚拟旅游也不能给你一个完整的画面。影片中有无数你看不到的缺陷。一旦你搬进来，你肯定会 气味 尽管如此，还是要倾听他们的声音。
从 污染交通 就在你卧室外面，隔着薄纸的墙壁，可以听到邻居的对话，还有浴室水槽里散发出的污水恶臭。
Many of such defects can be fixed if you’re aiming to buy the property. But before you have to go out and find a contractor for mold rehabilitation, you should know what you’re in for.
4. Ask for a live tour.
If you are seriously considering a property, ask for a live tour. Especially if you have any doubts.
Being on a Zoom call with the landlord or a realtor while they walk you through the property is a game changer. You can gauge the noise level, see the real-life lighting conditions, and feel the property’s atmosphere. More importantly, you get to ask for a closer look into dubious areas and grill your guide with in-depth questions.
If they try to evade these questions, or don’t want to show you a particular area of the property, you know you’ve just dodged a bullet. Pro tip: Come prepared with apartment hunting questions.
5. Keep recordings.
Finally, even if everything seems above board, keep records. Save the photos and videos from online listings. Screencap everything. Record Zoom calls. Save emails in a separate folder.
These files could be lifesavers. If you do move into a new home, and it doesn’t live up to your expectations, you have solid evidence for a potential dispute.
And often, even the knowledge that they’re being recorded is enough to scare off scammers.
When on a virtual home hunt, maintain constant vigilance. Be critical of everything.
Yes, you could be missing out on a decent offer – but this fear of missing out is exactly what scammers count on. Set your standards and stick to them.
The search for an apartment or house might take longer that way. But you can also be sure that once you do find the right fit, it is entirely above board, and you run no danger of losing thousands to a virtual scam.
You’ll be able to cozy into your new home – and leave swindlers standing out in the cold.