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Welcome to your constantly updated resource for news and views on the Brookline Real Estate market. Here you will find commentary and statistics to explain the daily changes in the Brookline specific housing market.

Whether you're looking for an estate in Cottage Farm, a condo in Brookline Village or are just stopping by please feel free to read along and comment at will. If you are interested in speaking about renting an apartment, buyer representation or listing your home please feel free to contact me.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Beware of this new scam

All of us know that there are many scams out there on the internet. "I'll send you a check for $5000 and you refund me $4000," etc... Well, there is a new one that we've come across recently and it affects those of you who have property listed for sale on MLS.

Recently sellers and agents have been getting strange calls from people interested in renting their properties. The prospective renters state they saw the ad on Craigslist, drove buy the house and are calling because they saw the for sale sign. The confused seller or agent, with no intention of renting the property, comes to find out that someone has taken the photos and MLS descriptions of their sale listing and posted the property for rent on Craigslist. With the increase in "free" access to all MLS data anyone can get a number of interior pictures and pretty much any other data for a sale listing. When the renter goes to investigate they see a sign out front, so it makes perfect sense to them on the surface.

A few people have chased down these fake landlords and engaged them in a dialog about renting. The story usually goes something like "We're taking a short term job and need to quickly move out of the country, and want to keep our house for when we return." In some cases the rent is so amazingly cheap that I'm sure a ton of emails or calls come in. In one example I know of a $1,000,000+ single-family home in a Boston neighborhood that was being "rented" for $1,600. In many instances, unless a prospective renter can make contact with the actual owner or agent, it's impossible to know when this scam occurs.

So, while the rental process is hard enough, and navigating the options on Craigslist is already way too difficult, everyone must be very aware of what they are coming across. In this time of trying to do all business on your own and by email without ever using an agent or meeting anyone in person, it is critical that everyone pays attention to who they are dealing with and where their information is being distributed.

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The views expressed on these pages are the opinion of the author and any public contributors. They do not substitute for the advice of a legal or financial professional. These opinions are not representative of any firm or business. Please always consult an attorney, financial professional or sign a contract with a Buyer Agent or Seller's Agent for specific advice.