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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Shameful Realtor Scams

If you ever see this, perhaps on Facebook (that's where I saw it), be wary.  This one appears to have been sponsored by Keller Williams (a Realty company), but I imagine it could be sponsored by any local Realtor anywhere in the country. 

Being a homeowner, and somewhat curious about the market value of my home, I clicked on the headline to what appeared to be a news article.  The picture is of a local train museum that I recognized, so it appeared that the local paper was running a story on this new "tool" that allows you to see your home's market value.

Clicking on the headline takes you right into a registration site, where you input basic information, like the property address, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and square footage of the home.  Then you're asked for some basic contact information, including e-mail and phone number (allegedly "for verification purposes").  Finally you are finished, and looking forward to seeing the "tool" provide an indication of your home's value.  But that's not what happens.

Instead, you get yet another screen that looks like this.  An informal congratulations to you!  The value of your home is being calculated and is on it's way.  But alas, there is no "tool."  This is simply a phishing site, intended to siphon your property and personal information for marketing purposes.

What happened when I did this?  A couple of days later, a strange woman knocked on my front door on a Sunday afternoon.  The dog had just peed on the hardwood floor in the entryway, so I happened to be by the front door (cleaning up the mess).  She hands me a handwritten envelope, and says it's the market valuation I requested.  Inside is simply a print-out from the MLS, showing the sales price of recent home sales in my neighborhood. 

I did not ask anyone to come to my home.  At no point in the process was I advised that anyone would come to my home.  I simply saw the supposed news story on Facebook, clicked it, and thought I was accessing a "tool" to calculate my home's value.  To add insult to injury, now I'm receiving junk mail from the Realtor who took the listing.  I'm disgusted, turned off, and really quite offended.

To be honest, I thought better of the Keller Williams franchise than this.  I'm surprised they would stoop to such a low level of professionalism (or lack thereof).  The geographic market that I'm in is on fire.  Sales are hot.  There's a shortage of available homes for sale.  I get that.  But prices are also crazy, and Realtors get paid based on the prices.  I get that too.  (Realtors are making good money in a market that's on fire.)

I may be in the market to sell my home.  My curiosity was more than just passing.  But instead of seeing me as a lead, Keller Williams and the Realtor who phished me on this site, should see me as an anti-customer.  There is not a chance that I will do business with them.  And I will be telling everyone I know what they did to me.  This is shameful, disgusting, unprofessional, and offensive.  It's scams like this that give the Internet a bad name.

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