In Real Estate, Scammers Are Getting Unbelievably Tricky

A hip-looking website and a realistic-looking payment invoice. Real estate professionals in Florida were recently hit with a scam in which they were instructed to pay a fee to maintain their membership listing with the Florida Board of REALTORS®, but there is no such organization.

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What’s concerning about this latest scam to hit the real estate industry is how much the perpetrators paid attention to details. The website is slick and the invoice is serious. Whoever is behind this attempt to milk fees out of unsuspecting real estate professionals appears to be banking on the idea that the right design can mislead people. Which means it’s not just realistic-looking emails you have to be on guard against; you have to be on guard against realistic-looking invoices and websites.

The scam is a top story in the latest Voice for Real Estate news video from NAR. Other segments look at what’s happening  in Washington. Among other things, the Trump administration has pushed the pause button on a rule that NAR had concerns with, paving the way for REALTORS® to have input into the rule should it be rewritten.

The rule concerns the expansion of bodies of water subject to Clean Water Act restrictions. That’s a topic that seems remote from the everyday practice of buying and selling real estate but it has the potential to slow and even derail development of real estate because property that previously was not subject to environmental review would be subject to it. So, NAR favors reviewing that rule and seeing how it might be changed.

Another Washington story is about flood insurance. The federal flood insurance program is the only realistic game in town for home owners and buyers in many areas and it expires in a few months, so NAR has been pushing hard to get it extended soon, because the last time the program expired, it wreaked havoc on home sales in thousands of communities across the country. The good news is that Congress seems serious about not letting that happen again and the update explains what has to happen over the next few months to keep the insurance flowing.

The video also looks at a report that just came out from NAR that finds Gen Xers—those born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s—are getting back into the market after enduring a rough ride during the economic crisis a few years ago. Of all the generations, this one was hardest hit, with a fifth of them going underwater on their mortgage and almost 15 percent having to sell under distressed circumstances. But they’re back in the market now, and that’s a good thing. Access the video.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is director of multimedia communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. He can be reached at

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