Real estate scams are a growing concern in Kenya. With the rise of online property listings, it has become easier for fraudsters to take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. Whether you are looking to buy or rent property, it is critical to be aware of the common tactics used by scammers and know how to protect yourself. In this article, we will discuss some of the measures you can take to safeguard yourself against real estate scams in Kenya.
Do Your Due Diligence
Before committing to any real estate transaction, it is essential to do your homework. Research both the property and the seller (if available) to avoid potential scams. A quick Google search can reveal red flags, such as multiple listings of the same property, negative reviews, or a history of fraud. You can use the services of a qualified real estate agent, a lawyer, or the relevant government agencies to authenticate the documents and the property’s ownership.
Never Pay Money Before Viewing the Property
One of the most common real estate scams is the upfront fee scam. Scammers may ask for a deposit or transaction fee before you have even seen the property. Avoid wiring money to anyone before viewing a house or signing a lease agreement. Ensure that you inspect the property physically to confirm that it exists and is worth the price.
Verify the Legal Documents
When buying or renting a property in Kenya, you must verify the legal documents to avoid any fraud. Confirm that the title deed is legitimate and check whether there is an encumbrance on the property. Verify the ownership of the property by searching for the Ministry of Lands. Besides, check that all the property owners have signed the sale agreement, the transfer documents, and the stamp duty receipts are accurate.
Trust your Instincts
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Trust your instincts and avoid any deal that makes you uncomfortable. Keep in mind that scammers often create a sense of urgency or use high-pressure tactics to rush you into making a decision.
Get Everything in Writing
Make sure that all agreements are in writing. If the seller is not willing to commit to a written contract, consider it a red flag.
Get Professional Help
When considering any real estate purchase, it is a good idea to seek the advice of a qualified real estate professional. A qualified professional can help to identify potential scams and protect your interests throughout the transaction.
Beware of Unsolicited Offers
If you receive an unsolicited offer for a real estate purchase, be wary. Legitimate real estate agents will not contact you out of the blue with offers.
Beware of Online Scams
Be cautious when dealing with online advertisements, especially if the deal appears too good to be true. Check for red flags such as low prices, unverified sellers, and requests for upfront payments before viewing the property.
Avoid Cash Transactions
Avoid making cash payments for properties as it can be difficult to trace the transaction in case of fraud. Use bank transfers or other secure payment methods like Mpesa, and Airtel money and keep records of all transactions.