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Sellers beware: How to spot a 'bogus' offer to purchase

14 Feb 2018

If you're selling your property and an offer seems too good to refuse, should you be concerned?

“Receiving an offer to purchase (OTP) on your property can be a heady moment, but we urge you to take the time to carefully look things over. Above all, do not allow a seemingly ‘too good to be true’ offer overrule your good sense,” says Andreas Wassenaar, Licensee & Principal of Seeff Dolphin Coast.

Where no significant money is paid within a very short period (three to seven days) it is a weak offer and is best avoided.

“Danger signs are when a potential purchaser is quick to offer full asking price, but cannot show how he or she is going to finance the purchase.

He says an offer where no significant money is paid within a very short period (three to seven days) it is a weak offer and is best avoided.”

“Serious buyers will be ready to pay at least a 10% deposit within a short period, and will already know exactly how the balance of the purchase price is to be secured. They will also have a very good idea of what level of mortgage finance they will qualify for,” says Wassenaar.

Funds that are due from offshore sources are typically problematic and unlikely to finalise.

“As estate agents, we are often left wondering why some prospective buyers even bothered presenting offers when they are unable to show how the sale price will be paid, or have uncertainty regarding their ability to afford a property that they have expressed an interest in,” Wassenaar says.

“Another reason to be vigilant is because, when money is involved, scam artists start coming out of the woodwork. Bogus buyers will usually try to bypass the estate agent, offer to pay money straight into your account, and try to hurry things along. Stick to your guns and avail yourself of the advice of your estate agent and conveyancing attorney to avoid any potentially disastrous financial implications.”

Nowadays technology has made scamming easier than ever, faking documents and cloning email addresses are all part of the scammer’s arsenal.

Unfortunately nowadays, Wassenaar says technology has made scamming easier than ever, faking documents and cloning email addresses are all part of the scammer’s arsenal. This isn’t helped by the fact that these fake buyers usually (literally) dress the part, and may be well spoken and arrive in an impressive vehicle.

“The bottom line is to never accept an OTP that has not been vetted by experts - and never let any potential ‘buyer’ take possession of your property before all of the relevant funds have been handed over and verified and the correct process had been completed,” says Wassenaar.

He says your estate agent and conveyancing attorney are the experts in the field, and are your allies. Keep them in the loop every step of the way to avoid potential pitfalls.

“It is our duty and responsibility to look after our client’s or seller’s interests. If an offer seems too good to be true, it usually is,” says Wassenaar.

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