How Buyers and Sellers Have Lost Thousands of Dollars to Email Scams

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laptop and smart phoneEmail scams are as old as, well, email, but as the years go by, these scams have become more and more sophisticated. Recently, several home buyers have fallen victim to specially targeted email scams that attempt to rob them of their closing costs — sometimes up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

These types of scams are devastating both financially and emotionally, especially when your home is involved. But to help protect you from email scams targeting the real estate industry, we have outlined a few tips about what these scams are and how to avoid them.

What Email Scams Are Common?

Though the method through which hackers collect personal or financial information is always changing, there are a few basic types of scams that buyers and sellers should be aware of.

Phishing

fishingThis type of scam attempts to “fish” for sensitive personal or financial information (such as passwords or credit card numbers). Many emails used in recent phishing schemes look legitimate; they may use the name of a trusted company or individual as the sender name, but the email address is slightly different than the company’s or individual’s verified address.

These types of email messages may also ask you to verify information or click on a link, which could install harmful software on your computer.

Wire Transfer Fraud

A specific type of phishing email that has been targeting home buyers recently is one that asks buyers to wire their closing costs to another account. The email typically crafts some urgent scenario, such as a last-minute change in wiring instructions, and urges the recipient to act quickly by wiring the money to the new account. This phishing email has led to home buyers losing thousands of dollars — in some cases, the entire purchase price of the house — to scammers. Unfortunately, the money can’t be returned once it’s gone.

Wire transfer fraud scams are especially dangerous because the emails appear to be sent directly from the real estate agent, the electronic signature company, or the title company. There may not be any misspellings or grammatical errors in the email message (which were surefire signs of a scam in the past), the message itself may be friendly and conversational, and any information related to the real estate transaction may be detailed and accurate.

How You Can Avoid Falling Victim to Email Scams

Now that you know what types of scams have plagued the real estate industry, here are a few tips you can follow to prevent yourself from falling victim to a devastating email scam.

person dialing a phone numberVerify that you received an email from the right person. Ensure that any emails you receive are legitimate by contacting the sender directly. Make sure you look up their phone number instead of clicking on the number provided in the email signature, which may be the scammer’s phone number.

Verify that the email address is legitimate. When you receive emails that appear to be from your real estate agent, title company, or attorney, check to make sure the sender’s email address does not contain misspellings, extra characters, or anything unusual.

Never share sensitive information via email. Your real estate agent will never ask you to send sensitive personal or financial information in an email.

Don’t touch an email that looks suspicious. Never click on any links or download any attachments from an unverified email, even if it looks legitimate. These links or attachments could be malware that will harm your computer.

Always use strong passwords. Use passwords that contain letters, numbers, and special characters, and change them periodically.

Update your antivirus software. Protect your computer from malware by ensuring your antivirus is up to date.

Report suspicious emails. If you receive an email that seems suspicious or is in fact a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission immediately.

Contact Us to Learn More

We’re aware of scams like these, so it’s our goal to keep you informed whether you’re buying or selling a home. Give us a call and we’ll provide you with any additional resources you need!



Hilton Head Is Open For Business!

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Hilton Head is Open for Business

Hilton Head Island is cleaning up this time with leaf blowers(not chainsaws) and in a matter of days(not months) our Island will be open for business as usual.  For the vacation guest and returning owners, it will be really hard for them to tell that a Hurricane rolled through. There have been conflicting reports about the closures on the Island and we wanted to let you know that the Island is now open for business.  So please pass it on!  Click here for a partial list of Business Openings.

Property Updates
 
New Listing #4 Little Harbour – $209,000
Big Views across the marsh to Port Royal Sound in this new gated community off Dillon Road.  Little Harbour will offer five residents some of the best views on the Island.  New model home will be available to see before the end of the year.  Home-site offered at $209,000
 
 
New Listing:  217 Barrington Court – $399,000
Oceanfront and wonderful!  Located in Palmetto Dunes this beautiful villa offers 2nd floor views to the Ocean, a big patio, open kitchen, granite tops, newer cabinetry and underneath parking!  Price to sell!
Robbie Bunting, 12 New Orleans Road, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928
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Hilton Head Island is Open for Business

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Hilton Head Island is cleaning up this time with leaf blowers(not chainsaws) and in a matter of days(not months) our Island will be open for business as usual.  For the vacation guest and returning owners, it will be really hard for them to tell that a Hurricane rolled through.  There have been conflicting reports about the closures on the Island and we wanted to let you know that the Island is now open for business.  So please pass it on!  Listed below are just a few of the businesses open.

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Hilton Head Properties Hires Internet Marketing Expert Group

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Hilton Head Island Realty and Rentals recently hired Tennessee marketing agency, Internet Marketing Expert Group (IMEG) to improve upon marketing efforts.

Darcey Sundling, Property Manager with Hilton Head Properties R and R stated, “Beginning on September 1, 2017, we will be working with the team at IMEG to continue growing our company while increasing bookings and revenues for each of our owners with proprietary software to improve our guest experiences.

IMEG is focused on growing businesses in the travel, tourism and hospitality industry with a proven track record of increasing revenues through their digital marketing strategies and tools. They have also been named to the Inc. 5000 List of fastest growing private companies in America each year since 2013.

“We are excited to add Hilton Head Properties Realty and Rentals to our list of clients. We love partnering with forward-thinking vacation rental companies, like Hilton Head Properties Realty and Rentals who are already successful and looking to partner with people to take their business to the next level. As business owners, we understand the amount of time, effort and money it takes to establish and maintain an organization. Because of this, we are determined to help Hilton Head Properties Realty and Rentals achieve the highest results possible for the company and their stakeholders, the property owners,” said Justin Jones, CEO and Founder of IMEG.

Property owners can expect an increase in visibility from social media to organic search as well as an improved guest experience and online reviews to help with conversion and repeat guests.

Some of the services IMEG will be providing include: search engine optimization, social media, email marketing and content marketing. Each of these services will assist in building our online presence and increasing revenues for our owners.

For more information about IMEG, please visit www.imegonline.com.  If you would like to contact Hilton Head Properties R and R for more information about rental management, rental proformas or vacation opportunities, please contact Darcey Sundling at (843)785-2242.



6 Questions to Ask When Considering a Neighborhood with an HOA

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community pool with inflatable innertubeLet’s say you have your heart set on buying a home in a community with a swimming pool, a clubhouse, and maybe even golf or a marina. Having access to these amenities often means living in a community with a homeowners association, or HOA/POA.

Generally, an HOA is responsible for keeping the neighborhood looking beautiful — and as a result, keeping property values high. But since no two neighborhoods are the same, no two HOA’s will be the same, either. Read the rest of this entry



The Floorplans of Palmetto Dunes, Shelter Cove and Leamington

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Why wait on your dream? Start browsing Palmetto Dunes Villas today and learn about the features they offer.  These villas offer 1-4 bedrooms overlooking lagoons, the Atlantic Ocean, Shelter Cove Marina, fairways or the lush Low Country.  The links below include almost every villa in Palmetto Dunes, Shelter Cove and Leamington!
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Easy like Sunday Morning on Hilton Head Island

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Looking for a great spot to brunch this Sunday on Hilton Head Island? Hard to believe there are so many to choose from.  If you are a long time Islander, you probably remember the old Hilton Head Inn and Perkins on Sunday morning.  Listed below are some of our favorites.  Let us know if we left any off the list! Read the rest of this entry



The Hilton Head Eclipse Event!

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The solar eclipse on August 21 is creating quite a stir in the Hilton Head area.  Although not total on Hilton Head, the photo to the left shows the eclipse from the Island.  Pretty darn close!  If you are planning on visiting, many hotels and rental companies are offering specials including free “eclipse” glasses(while they last). The information and links below will help you plan your viewing party!

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Want Top Dollar for Your Home? Hire a Real Estate Pro

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A quick Google search is all it takes to discover hundreds of new recipes, do-it-yourself projects, and tips about how to stage your home. With so much information available online, especially about the home selling process, many homeowners start to wonder whether it’s faster and more cost-efficient to sell their own homes rather than hiring a real estate agent to do it for them. (Spoiler alert: It’s not.)

Sold sign in front of single-family houseMaybe you’re just now thinking about selling your home. All those HGTV shows and helpful articles make it look so easy — how hard could it be to sell your home yourself? Or maybe you’re already elbows deep into selling For Sale By Owner and are thinking, this isn’t so bad.

A helpful tip when considering whether to skip right over hiring an agent: Just because you can do something yourself doesn’t mean that you should, especially when it comes to selling a home.

So what makes a real estate agent so invaluable?

What Does a Real Estate Agent Do, Anyway?

Everything from preparing paperwork to negotiating the price and terms — you name it, a real estate agent does it. But what many home sellers forget is that a real estate agent’s job is a lot of behind-the-scenes work.

contract to purchase a homeWhen you hire a real estate professional, you’re not only benefitting from the agent’s intimate knowledge of what’s happening in the local housing market, you’re also working with a licensed professional who is legally bound to work in your best interests. A few essential elements of their job include:

  • Researching recent comparable sales to determine the best price for your home
  • Spending their own time and money to market your listing
  • Promoting your home through their network of contacts and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
  • Coordinating showing appointments and open houses on your behalf
  • Responding quickly to inquiries about your property
  • Writing counteroffers and filling out required disclosures
  • Doing everything they can to help you achieve your goals

Isn’t It Cheaper to Sell My Home Myself?

Commission — a percentage of the sale proceeds that goes to the real estate agents involved in the transaction — is a major factor in the decision to go FSBO (For Sale By Owner) or hire a real estate pro. Working without a real estate agent will certainly save you a few thousand dollars on commission, but there’s a catch.

If You Go Down the FSBO Road

If you decide to go FSBO, you won’t save as much money as you think. You might not even save money at all.

Sign that says For Sale By OwnerYou will have to spend your own time and money to invest in quality photography for your listing, purchase marketing materials (and not just a For Sale By Owner sign), carefully research which home improvements will bring you the most bang for your buck, and list your home on the MLS, just to name a few.

This all assumes that you price your property correctly, manage to entice more than a couple of buyers with your marketing efforts, investigate whether interested buyers are actually qualified to purchase your home, make all the right repairs so no red flags surface during the home inspection, and don’t make a costly mistake involving disclosure forms or the contract!

If You Work with a Real Estate Agent

Since real estate agents are licensed professionals, they are experts at handling all the details of your transaction. They will help you avoid costly mistakes, negotiate the best price and terms for your property, and ensure that it sells for top dollar.

At the end of the day, working with a real estate agent instead of going FSBO will save you time, money, and headaches.

Okay, I’m Convinced — What Do I Do Next?

If your goal is to sell your home quickly and for top dollar, we can help. We’re more than happy to share our wealth of home selling resources, including staging tips and a home evaluation. Give us a call and let’s talk about your plans.



Should You Hire a Professional or DIY on Those Home Repairs?

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equipment for a do-it-yourself home repairTo DIY or not to DIY? That’s the question on many homeowners’ minds when there’s a repair or home improvement project on their to-do lists. The good news is that you can do plenty of things on your own. But for other projects, you’re better off hiring a licensed contractor, plumber, or electrician to do the work for you.

When undertaking a home improvement project, whether you’re buying or selling a home, you want to strike a balance between saving time by hiring a professional and saving money by doing it yourself. So here’s how to know when to hire a professional and when to go DIY.

Replacing Hardware — Do It Yourself

Need an upgrade from tarnished doorknobs, outdated cabinet pulls, or boring light switches? Pick up new hardware from a local home improvement store and go for it. Replacing hardware is a fairly simple fix that any homeowner can do on their own.

roofer's tool belt on top of a houseReplacing Roof Shingles — Hire a Professional

Unless you have significant roofing experience (and aren’t afraid of heights), you’re better off leaving this job to the professionals. Contractors can repair your roof in significantly less time — and save you risk of injury.

Installing Ceiling Fans or Light Fixtures — It Depends

If the wiring is already there, you can put in a new fan or light in your living room yourself with little problem. Just make sure that you’ve turned off the power on the circuit breaker before removing the original fixture.

However, if you want to add a ceiling fan or overhead light to a room that doesn’t have wiring already in place, you will need to hire an electrician. They will check to see if your home has sufficient amperage (and rewire the room if necessary), cut and patch drywall to install the fixture, and add a light switch.

Installing Major Appliances — Hire a Professional

Installing a new oven, refrigerator, washing machine, or dishwasher takes quite a bit of know-how, so you’re better off hiring a professional to get the job done right. They will check the wattage, check gas and water connections, and ensure that your new appliance is level, among other things.

white tile backsplash in updated kitchenAdding a Backsplash — Do It Yourself

Adding wall tile to your kitchen or bathroom is something you can do yourself. Home improvement stores have all the equipment you need, from mortar to tile cutters to the wall tiles themselves. When considering this DIY project, make sure that you have the time to prepare the mortar and grout, lay the tile, seal the backsplash, and allow everything to dry.

Adding Granite or Quartz Countertops — Hire a Professional

Upgrading your countertops involves precise cutting of the quartz or granite and assistance from several people to lift the heavy countertops — plus the initial assurance that your cabinets can support the weight of the heavy material. So when installing new granite or quartz counters, it’s better to hire a professional.

Need Recommended Service Providers?

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, we can connect you with trusted contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other professionals who can save you time and money on your home improvements. Contact us and we’ll be happy to provide recommendations!




Copyright © 2017 Hilton Head Real Estate. All rights reserved. Disclaimer: All content on this blog is my own opinion and should not be treated as fact or relied upon when purchasing or selling real estate.
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