Unfortunately, there will always be those in Tennessee who wish to take advantage of other people, particularly where money is concerned. For example, there are a number of scams that a person wishing to rent, purchase or sell residential real estate should look out for.
First, people should be aware that someone might try to rent out a house or apartment that does not actually exist. They might copy photos from online real estate listings, and then use those photos in false ads. Then, unknowingly, a potential renter will send the scammer a security deposit on the property. Similarly, a person might try to rent out a room in a house that either does not exist or is sub-standard. In this scam, the fake landlord walks away with the security deposit the potential tenant put down on the room.
Another scam is the strawman purchase. In this type of illicit transaction, the real estate agent will have an undisclosed partner in the strawman. They will put a home up for sale priced below what its market value would be. The strawman then buys the home at that lower price, and then either leases it out or sells the house without ever being detected.
Also, sometimes identity theft takes place in the real estate business. A person might create a false title to a house in order to get a lender to issue a mortgage. The person, along with the loan proceeds, will then exit the picture, meaning that the person who owned the home is now facing an encumbrance.
These are only some examples of real estate scams that can take place; there are more. In the end, a person should not give a security deposit to someone they have not personally met or for a place they have not seen in person, should get more than one valuation of their home if they are selling and should check the county records of the property they wish to purchase to confirm who owns it. Of course, in any of these circumstances it may help to work with an attorney. An attorney can help make sure their client doesn't fall for real estate scams and, if their client is a victim of a scam, an attorney can assist them in pursuing action to recover what they lost.
Source: oakridger.com, "Dear Monty: 10 common real estate scams," Richard Montgomery, Dec. 12, 2017