Real Estate

Baffled Homeowner With No Plans to Sell Finds Her House Listed for Sale. Here's Why

A homeowner with no intention of selling her house was surprised to find it listed for sale on Zillow and Trulia.

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Imagine finding out your house is listed for sale on a real estate site, even though you have no plans to sell.

It happened to one homeowner, and the I-Team looked into what’s going on.

Diane, who wanted to keep her last name private, says she recently started getting suspicious voicemails.

“Oh I’m interested in buying your house. Please give me a call,” said Diane, imitating the voicemail.

She was baffled because she’s not selling her house. Diane was stunned when she found it listed for sale on Zillow and Trulia. 

“I went online and I saw my property, ‘For Sale by Owner!’” said Diane. 

She was imagining the worst. 

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“My scare would be that somebody would come in and say ‘Oh, I’m the owner’ or something,” said Diane.

And that could very well happen, said Steve McFarland with the Better Business Bureau.  

“There are so many frauds in real estate going on right now,” said McFarland.

He said Diane’s house was likely posted by a scammer, who was trying to snag money or personal information from a potential buyer who was willing to swipe up the property sight unseen. 

“They want a deposit,” said McFarland. “They want a Zelle transfer, they want a wire, some kind of transfer, and once they get it - they disappear.”

McFarland said these scams are huge in the rental market, too. In fact, last year the I-Team talked to Vicki Eisenstein who put down a $2,200 deposit for an apartment she found online. But when she showed up to move in, she learned it was all a scam.

“The police discovered someone was already living in the unit he sold me,” said Eisenstein. 

So, if you’re house or apartment hunting, the BBB says here are red flags that the listing you’re looking at may not be legitimate:

  1. You’re asked to send cash via a payment app or wire money.
  2. You’re not allowed to see the property in person.
  3. The rental or sale price is below market. 
  4. You’re asked to act quickly. 

As for Diane, the I-Team reached out to Zillow and Trulia. They both removed the listing.

Zillow said it goes to “great lengths” to “police activity and fully inform users of scams and how to protect themselves.” Zillow also offered these tips.

Trulia didn’t comment. 

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