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  • Writer's pictureLuke Miller

Avoiding "fake" offers and scams when selling land

Updated: Apr 17

In the realm of real estate, especially when it comes to buying and selling vacant land, avoiding scams when selling land can be akin to traversing a labyrinth. Among the myriad of offers that landowners may encounter, there lurks a shadowy realm of "fake offers" as I like to call them – sometimes deceptive schemes that can potentially lead to disappointment.

It is important to note that this is not illegal, but if not done in a way that is transparent, is not necessarily ethical. As a vacant land seller, it is imperative to arm ourselves with knowledge and discernment to distinguish genuine offers from empty promises.

One particular avenue where this distinction becomes crucial is in the assignment of real estate contracts. Assignment clauses in real estate deals involve transferring one's rights and obligations under a real estate contract to another party, usually an end buyer.

Why would an investor do this? Sometimes it is for legitmate purposes like creating a new entity to purchase the land. Sometimes it can be for less legitimate purposes like trying to sell the contractual rights to someone for a mark up. Now, this isn't always illegitimate - in fact I do this as a land buyer/seller sometimes - however clear and consistent communication with all parties is obligatory. All of my purchase agreements contain an assignment clause, but I stipulate that I need YOUR permission (the seller) to do so.

Sleazy real estate investor trying to scam you
Hint: if it feels sleazy, it probably is.

Another "fake offer" type that I hear about often is the long closing window. Be weary of a purchase agreement with a buyer that includes a LONG closing period. Anything over 45 days probably isn't necessary.

It is possible that the buyer of your land is taking that property and listing it for sale themselves to try and sell the property before buying it from you. Again, this is a ethical gray area for most unless there is a VERY clear understanding of the process.

I want to be clear, there are times when a seller wants too much money for their property for me to risk buying it for cash so I propose this structure. We are very good at selling land so it makes sense for us to try and sell the property before buying it, higher price for the seller and less risk for us, however we will ALWAYS make sure you know what we are doing before we list your property. In fact, we make you sign a document giving us a very limited Attorney In Fact that allows us to list your property. It is not always necessary, but it is an extra step to ensure we are operating above board.

So, how can landowners ensure they aren't falling prey to fake offers when considering wholesale or assignment deals?

  1. Thorough Due Diligence: Before engaging with any potential buyer or investor, conduct thorough due diligence on them. Research the individual or company making the offer. Look for reviews, testimonials, and any red flags that might indicate past fraudulent activities. Verify their credentials and track record in real estate transactions with a title company or attorney if possible.

  2. Clear Understanding of Terms: Don't rush into signing any agreements without a clear understanding of the terms. Take the time to review all documents. Our contract is very clear and simple - a good indication that we will follow through and do what we say we will do.

  3. Transparent Communication: Genuine investors will be transparent and forthcoming about their intentions, strategies, and the risks involved. Be wary of individuals or companies that employ high-pressure tactics or promise unrealistic returns. A reputable investor will provide clear explanations and be willing to address any concerns or questions you may have.

  4. Use Professionals: closing with a reputable title company relieves a lot of pressure. Title company's will not risk their licensure and reputation to screw over an individual on a transaction. If your contract does not state a title company will be used, it is critical to demand that.

  5. Trust Your Instincts: Intuition can be a powerful tool. If something feels off or doesn't sit right with you, don't ignore it. Trust your instincts and take the necessary steps to validate the legitimacy of the offer before proceeding.

In the intricate landscape of vacant land transactions, vigilance and informed decision-making are paramount. By arming yourself with knowledge, conducting thorough due diligence, and trusting your instincts, you can safeguard yourself against fake offers and pave the way for fruitful and legitimate real estate transactions.

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