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Craigslist rental scammer sting and arrest caught on camera

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Admitted rental scammer arrested

When a young couple was recently scammed out of $850 they paid to what they thought was a landlord, their friends set up a sting to catch the woman posing as a landlord on properties she didn’t own, and lined up the Yuba City police and CBS13 to be there when the sting was executed.

In the video above, an older woman doesn’t run, she doesn’t act fidgety, she admits in front of the cameras that she stole from the couple and although she didn’t admit to having scammed anyone else, the police pulled rental applications out of her purse. She apologized and appeared to be calm yet very sad as she was cuffed and taken to the police vehicle.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department confirmed with CBS13 that the woman’s name is Sherri Heschong, and goes by dozens of names in her Craigslist ads where she allegedly poses as a landlord, takes application fees and deposits on properties she does not own. The Sheriff’s Department says she was arrested in September on two felony charges, then failed to appear for at least one court hearing.

Tips on avoiding Craigslist scams

Craigslist scams are unfortunately not uncommon and it can be difficult for people to tell the difference between a landlord. Craigslist warns against scams and gives tips on how to avoid them as well as report suspected scams and the Better Business Bureau offers the following tips on avoiding rental scams:

• The email addresses they use usually are from yahoo, ymail, rocketmail, fastermail, live, hotmail and gmail, and they also post ads under anonymous craigslist addresses. They frequently change their aliases.
• The deal sounds too good to be true. Scammers will often list a rental for a very low price to lure in victims. Find out how comparable listings are priced, and if the rental comes in suspiciously low, walk away.
• They use photos stolen from other property advertisements or from home furnishing catalogues or hotel websites.
• They use fake names, often stolen from Facebook profiles or networking sites. Often they assume the identities of previous victims.
• What they all have in common is that sooner or later you get a request to transfer funds via Western Union, Moneygram or some other wire service.
• Never under any circumstances, wire money at the request of any prospective “landlord” via Western Union, Money Gram or any other wire service.  Even if they tell you to wire the funds to a friend or relative’s name “to be safe,” it’s a trap!
• Never send a scan of your passport or other ID.  These thieves will use your identity to scam others. Ask to see the landlord’s ID – record all the information you can from it.
• Use a browser to search for the person’s name who you’re dealing with. Be sure to add quotes around their name. You could add the words “fraud” or “scam” at the end of your search terms.
• Use reverse directory look up if the person has given you their telephone number. It’s important to double check that they are who they say they are.
• Visit the local county courthouse to look up property ownership for the apartment in question. Who really owns it? Is it the person you’re dealing with? Or someone else?
• Scan any provided photographs carefully. Do they match up with what you’ve seen in person? Do they look like they all came from the same place?
• They don’t ask for an application or permission to check your credit? That’s a red flag!
• Considering the current state of our economy and the rise in foreclosures, ask the landlord if they’re current on their mortgage payments, and then get their answer in writing.
• Consider using another method for obtaining a rental, i.e. real estate agent, going through a rental agency, etc.
• Always check bbb.org to see if the “company” has any complaints.

Austin

Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home

When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?

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Looking at the bigger picture

(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).

That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).

They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.

“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”

Click here to continue reading the list of the 12 best places to buy a home…

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Housing News

Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?

With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.

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aging housing inventory

The average home age is higher than ever

(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.

With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.

Prices of new homes on the rise

Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.

Click here to continue reading this story…

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Housing News

Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?

The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.

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zillow move

Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes

(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.

Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.

So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.

1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues

It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.

Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.

2. Two major media brands emerge

Last fall, the News Corp. acquisition of Move, Inc. was given the green light by the feds, and this month, Zillow finalized their acquisition of Trulia.

…Click here to continue reading this story…

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