Buying real estate is a major purchase and steps must be made to ensure against fraudulent transactions. Property scams can cost you not only your money; it can mire you in legal troubles as well.
Follow these measures to avoid falling victim to scams:
1. Don't give away personal information – the details of your bank account, your credit card verification code, and personal documents – especially to someone over the Internet.
2. Inspect the property. Make sure that the product on paper matches that in real life. Search for the property on Google Maps to verify if its actual location matches the address given to you. Don't pay for anything upfront until you have inspected the property with your own eyes, and be wary of brokers or agents who can't or don't show up to viewings. To ensure the quality of its construction, hire a certified home inspector.
3. As per the law, brokers and real estate agents must possess a license to practice. Check if your agent is a licensed professional through the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), where you can look them up by name or by their license number . Ask for a copy of the agent's PRC ID to cross-reference the information. Get the agent's contact details and verify if these avenues are legitimate. Visit the agent's office address, if any. Ask the agent for at least three references – ideally, clients that they've worked with in the past. Contact these references to inquire after the agent's credibility and character. 3. Verify if the property has a License to Sell issued by the Housing Land Use and Regulatory Board (HLURB). You can inquire via the HLURB website or visit the regional office with jurisdiction over the property. If you're buying a pre-selling condominium unit, make sure that the License issued corresponds with the phase of the development that the unit falls under.
4. Verify the land title to make sure that the property hasn't been sold to anyone else. Firstly, obtain the title number and the full name of the owner of the property. Proceed to the Register of Deeds at the city or municipal office where you can request for a Certified True Copy of the land title.
5. Don't sign any blank fields on the Contract to Sell. Ask for your own copy of the contract. Read the contract thoroughly, including the fine print. It's best to consult a trusted lawyer before you sign any legal paperwork.
In the end, the safest and surest way to buying property is to stick to well-known developers with good cred and a history of delivering quality projects on time. Additionally, choose only reputable real estate platforms, like Property24, where listings are posted by proven agents and brokers, as opposed to listings posted by non-professionals.