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How to check if an online property listing is legitimate

/ 11:57 PM June 06, 2021

Amid the pandemic, many Filipinos have utilized online platforms to look for properties.

At first glance, one might think that every property listing across all websites and channels are the same—a few photos, basic property details and some contact information. However, there are some telling signs that can separate a legitimate listing from a complete waste of time. Remember, research is important when it comes to property buying and/or renting since acquiring them isn’t exactly a small decision.

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Love at first sight doesn’t work with property portals

If you think the listed property price is too good to be true, it possibly is. For example, when looking for condominium units, always check current property and rent prices in the area. Research companies like Colliers and JLL always provide quarterly reports about the area prices and one can easily access them through their websites.

Why should you always check the area price? Some property portals don’t update their listings online so the price posted might be from years ago. The general rule of thumb: if the last update of the listing was more than six months ago, it isn’t accurate anymore.

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You should also check the posted property photos and information provided as these are good indicators on how reliable the agents are. A good agent puts a lot of effort in taking photos and providing complete property information.

Vague information, incomplete listings and few photos posted are red flags. One can cross check the same properties from other agent listings.

Check photos VS floor plan

No photo of the kitchen, or the second bedroom? Chances are, you’re going to be disappointed with how they look. If a real estate broker hasn’t included the photos online, there is probably a good reason for this.

Agents always want to display the best features of a property, but may keep the less beautiful areas hidden. Check all of the photos against a floor plan to ensure you are not going to be disappointed when seeing the actual property.

Have you seen this photo before?

Taking photos of a property can be time-consuming and inconvenient. Some photos come out blurry or ill-directed when you are in a rush. This is why property agents sometimes recycle photos of units especially if they are in the same building.

You deserve to see photos from the actual property you are interested in. If you see a photo used a number of times, it’s best to steer clear of those listings.

Know what questions to ask

If everything is good so far, the next step is to prepare the questions to ask the agent once you decide to contact them. Aside from amenities and location, you should also ask about the numbers like rental yield, property yield and current prices per sqm in the area, especially if you are planning to buy a property for investment. A good agent will have these numbers close at hand.

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If you’ve done your research well, you’ll know if the agent is really knowledgeable about the property or not.

Is the agent responsive within 24 hours to your query?

If you do decide to contact an agent about your listing, keep in mind that if they respond to your query in a timely manner, it probably means that they will be more supportive and attentive to your concerns. Agents who take much longer to respond will generally be less likely to help out with any issues after the sale.

If you follow these steps to verify an online listing is legitimate, you’ll have a much better chance of finding your dream property through a responsive and competent agent.

Good luck hunting!

The author is a start-up professional with over 18 years of experience running agencies and technology companies in Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia. He is now working with PropertyAccess Philippines

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