Real Estate scams in Italy are in the rise
Fake properties are often listed on various websites and in some cases, property hunters even visit the home in person and are shown around by someone claiming to be the landlord or the realtor before being asked to transfer a deposit.
How do I know if it’s a fake?
First of all, trust your gut instinct. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
However, in general, it is a scam listing if:
- The property listing comes with rendering or high quality pictures used on Italian or foreign property listings websites.
- The asking price of the property is doubtfully low compared to the local property market in Italy.
- The supposed landlord/owner pretends to be abroad or unable to meet for a property viewing. If the property is advertised by a fake agent and he/she claims it’s impossible to view the home, it’s probably a fake listing. Agent will make time for property hunters.
- The supposed landlord/owner can only be contacted per email and doesn’t answer calls. Fraudsters usually use free email servers and they’ll often go by a series of random letters to make them less easily traceable.
- The supposed landlord/owner requests the payment of a deposit with prepaid cards or similar, however, he never asks to be paid with a bank transfer
- As guarantee, fraudsters send false id or passport copies or Italian fiscal codes.
How can you protect yourself against scams?
- Never communicate any personal or credit card details online.
- Never send money before you’ve viewed the property. A landlord asking for a holding deposit prior to a viewing may not have the best of intentions.
- Check that a property actually exists. Ask a professional Italian geometra or a property management agency to investigate about the house on your behalf.
- If the listing seems suspicious, ask the landlord/owner proof of ownership and cadastral papers of the house
It is highly recommended to work with registered professional realtors, geometra and property managers to ensure that you will be protecting yourself against real estate scams.