Unfortunately, scammers exist in every industry, including commercial real estate. As a professional commercial property management in Calgary, we want to shed light on this topic to help business owners avoid one of the worst nightmares – a rental property scam.

New business owners and those who desperately need a place right away are more likely to fall for rental fraud. Be wary of a signing process that seems a little too quick or a listing that seems too good to be true. To protect your business from scams, here are five telltale signs you’re dealing with a fake real estate agent.

Sign #1 – The property dealer claims to be out of town

One of the biggest signs of a fake real estate agent is a person who claims to be out of town and can’t meet you. This is especially tricky in today’s digital world when we rely on virtual meetings to be safe. A landlord or a representative of their property management company will always want to meet you to ensure that you’re a legitimate, responsible tenant. Additionally, if the agent pretends to work for the military or is away on a missionary trip, turn your back. Chances are, you’re dealing with a fraud.

Sign #2 – Requests your financial information too soon

Of course, part of the process of renting a commercial property in Calgary is to present your financial information. However, no real estate agent, property management company, or landlord will ask for your financial information right from the start even before talking about the property. Never make a security deposit before signing a lease or seeing the property in person.

Another glaring sign is if the person asks for a wire money transfer overseas, claiming that it’s part of the application process. If you experience this, report the listing as fraudulent and block all communication.

Sign #3 – They are not able to show you the property

If you meet the real estate agent in person, but they cannot show you the property, they don’t actually have access to that property. They have likely faked an online listing to make it seem like the place is readily available but will find an excuse not to show you inside the property – even if you’re circling the premises. Their excuse might be that the landlord is away or you cannot enter for safety reasons. Bottom line: if you cannot see the space at all, it’s almost certainly a rental fraud.

Sign #4 – The price is amazing

It feels amazing when you see an incredible commercial space for lease in Calgary at an equally incredible price. However, anything that is priced below the market rate is a big red flag. A listing that is too good to be true can be a ‘bait and switch’ – a tactic that scammers use to lure in potential renters to act fast and sign a lease quickly before it’s gone. Be sure to shop around and compare the average price of similar listings in the area.

Sign #5 – No screening process

The screening process always requires a rental application and credit check to move
the process forward securely. Additionally, properties that are available immediately without the usual tenant process are a red flag. Even if it’s not a scam, be wary of an inexperienced and disorganized landlord. You may end up with an unfavourable lease term, unexpected legal issues, and other challenging problems that can disrupt your business.

How to avoid rental fraud

Now that you’re aware of some of the most common tactics that real estate scammers use, here are some tips to ensure you’re entering a legitimate contract:

  • Double-check rent and prices, compare with similar listings
  • Visit the property in person
  • Research the seller
  • Consult with a reputable broker

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The material presented in this blog is provided for general information and educational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional advice. All information is subject to change regularly and without notice. CMS Real Estate Ltd. assumes no responsibility for any errors in the information provided, nor assumes any liability for damages incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, of the use and application of any of the contents of the blog/website page.

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