This is how you can differentiate between trustworthy real estate companies and fraudsters

As the author Wolfgang Lörzer himself knew, “You can’t be tricked by a bargain if you simply reject it”. This wisdom applies to many areas of life, including real estate. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it should be avoided. Thanks to our tips, you can be sure that you won’t get any nasty surprises when looking for real estate.

How to find a trustworthy real estate companyAdvance payments

In a popular scam, the supposed owner of a property is unable to show you a flat or house because he is currently abroad. He suggests sending the key by post and requires a deposit beforehand. The transfer is preferably to take place via an institution such as Western Union, which allows you to transfer cash without concrete proof of identity. If you comply with this demand, you either receive no key at all or one which doesn’t fit the lock at the property. The deposit is then lost in the course of this popular global scam. The Federal Trade Commission in the USA therefore recommends that you never pay a deposit or a consultancy fee before a guided tour has taken place and the relevant documents have been signed.

Foreclosures in the USA

A phenomenon which is particularly familiar on the American market concerns letting property for which foreclosure is pending. This is unavoidable and the tenant must leave the new home quickly. This leads to considerable inconvenience and financial losses for the tenant. So be careful if an owner fails to show much interest in checking your financial situation. He views you as merely a short-term tenant for the transition period and places no importance upon securities.

Phishing and fee-based lists

A falsified link, which can be abused for advanced-fee fraud, can be recognised by the fact that it is not only the name of the provider which appears in the link text, the name and a place holder appear in combination. If a supposedly trustworthy real estate provider offers you a list of interesting real estate offers for a fee, this is likely to be a scam.

Telephone surveys

You are not actually looking for property, but once you have participated in a telephone survey on a related topic, the supposedly trustworthy real estate provider tries to impress upon you the benefits of property as a capital investment. You are often expected to decide immediately as only a limited number of apartments are still available. You haven’t seen the property at all. This attempt to build a sense of urgency is a clear indication that the person is not a serious real estate provider.

On your guard when abroad

In cities such as London, many people are looking for properties and are often lured into scams with deceptively real-looking real estate advertisements. The advance payment trick using Western Union or MoneyGram is widespread. In the USA and Canada, there were cases which targeted owners who have difficulty with paying their mortgages. The fraudsters offer to take on running costs and loans for the owner if he pays an administrative fee in return and transfers the property title. The fraudster then ignores all invoices and disappears with the money from a newly accepted mortgage. 

How to recognise trustworthy estate agents

You want to find a real estate provider that you can be sure is not a fraud. So remember: Trustworthy real estate providers never request money before they have signed the purchase or rental contract. They would also never sell you property that you had not viewed.

At Engel & Völkers, we are a professional, internationally renowned real estate agency with many years of experience in negotiations for high-quality objects and place great importance on transparency and reliability. If you are looking for a property and want to visit a secure site, visit our website

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