This three-bedroom house in Detroit is on the market for $US36,000. Photo: Zillow
As Zillow mentions: https://www.zillow.com/info/beware-of-scams-and-other-internet-fraud/
Red Flags for Scams
Requests to wire funds via MoneyGram or Western Union
Report Scams and Fraud
If you find a fraudulent listing on Zillow, please return to the listing page and click “Report Listing” and select “Listing seems to be fraudulent or illegal.”
If you believe you have been scammed, report the incident to the FTC. If you sent money via Western Union or MoneyGram, report the incident immediately: if the recipient hasn’t collected the money yet, the wire transfer company can reverse the transfer.
When reporting scams, include as much as possible of the following: the name and address of the sender, the send location, the date and amount of the transfer, the transfer fee, the date and actual location of the receipt, the name of the receiver, any information recorded regarding the receiver’s identification, the reference number for the transfer, and the details of the nature of the issue.
Examples of Scams
Below are examples of fraudulent emails received by Zillow users.
“I’m out of the country and need you to wire me the deposit.”
How the scam works: You find a great rental (it’s usually too good to be true), but the landlord is located out of state or out of the country. They’ll rent it to you and mail you the keys if you just send a deposit.
Tip: Don’t wire money to anyone you haven’t met in person. If it looks like a great deal and is too good to be true, it’s likely a scam. You will lose your money, and the place you were looking at isn’t really even on the market.
“I overpaid you with my money order. Please send some back.”
How the scam works: A renter or buyer agrees to wire you money for a deposit, but accidentally sends too much. They ask you to wire back the over-payment and you must “act now.” You send the “overpayment” back and their check fails to clear the bank. Now, the money you sent is gone forever.
“Thanks for the speedy response,i am really excited that the house is in good condition, and i really love the pictures of the house i have seen so far, i would not mind to see more pictures of the home, i would like to know if i would have any repairs what so ever.
I work with the United nations development program(UNDP).I have been working there for 5 years.
I am married with no kid. I and my Wife actually got married last year. My Full name is PXXXX AXXXX kXXXX and my Wife’s name is MXXXX DXXXX kXXXX.she is a school teacher,I am 39 years old and my wife is 35.Our current house address is 3XXXXXXXXXXXXX, EXXXXX Edinburgh Scotland.
I have never bought a property abroad before, this would be my first, and i am not working alongside any agents,i also want to know how soon you are willing to move out of the house.I and my wife are looking to relocate as soon as we have found a home we like,i would also like to know your final price for this property. please kindly get back to me asap.”
This is the follow-up from a Zillow user:
“I just wanted to let FSBO sellers know that I listed my house on Zillow a few weeks ago, and I received an email from a man in Scotland wanting to buy my house. He sent me (3) $1,000.00 money grams, one of which was a deposit to hold the house. He sent an Urgent email yesterday stating that his company (United Nations) sent us $2,000.00 by mistake to send it back to him. He wanted new money orders from my bank. I emailed him back telling him that I checked with money gram and I was told they could not find any information to verify them. I haven’t heard back from him, nor do I expect to.”
“Please wire me a deposit. Zillow will guarantee your money!”
How the scam works: You’re asked to wire money, and told that Zillow (or some other authoritative-sounding organization) will guarantee the money and protect you. No such guarantee exists.
Tip: Zillow is not involved in transactions between buyers/sellers, renters/landlords, or borrowers/lenders. If you wire money based on communication that “Zillow will guarantee it,” you will become a victim of a scam and it’s unlikely you will get your money back. Remember: Zillow is NOT involved in transactions.
Thanks for taking the time to look at my property.
My name is Julia, I’m 55 years old, I’m a retired engineer and I’m the owner of this condo (total 900sqf. 1 Bedroom apartment, 1 bath fully accessorized). I lived in this beautiful condo for over 5 years and loved every day of it. The condo is fully furnished with all necessary amenities (exactly like in the pics), has a very large bedroom with spacious inbuilt wardrobe , living room with dining area, 1 bathroom, dishwasher, washing machine and clothes dryer. The condo come with two parking spots, a storage unit where you can deposit my furniture (if you don’t like it and you want use your furniture). Pets allowed. Four months ago I moved to Bismarck, North Dakota at my sons place to take care of my 2 years old nephew. I really want to find a good and responsible tenant for it, and I hope that you can send me some personal information about yourself.
The monthly rent for the apartment is US $700. I want to receive first month’s advance $700 refundable deposit ($1400 TOTAL).
I am looking for someone to rent anywhere from 3 months to 5 years. Everything is included (water,electricity, Internet,cable, parking,air conditioning, fireplace, dishwasher, garbage) and I want to receive the money monthly in my bank account. You can move in the condo in the same day when you receive the keys. The only problem is that I`m the only person who has the keys and I have nobody in the area that could show you the condo (my son and nephew are my only family). In order to check & see if you like it (I’m sure that you’ll love it), you need to receive the keys and the contract by postal service (USPS 2 Days Delivery). Obviously we need a way to complete this deal in a safe and fast way for both of us and the solution is provided by a company called Zillow ( www.Zillow.com I am already registered with them since 5 years ago i purchased the apartment from their website) which will handle the payment and delivery of the Keys. They have a Tenant Deposit Protection, here you can see here how Zillow.com Payment Services work (i got from one of their email-letters). They have a program that protects the tenants deposit and makes sure that the tenant is fully satisfied with the condo before I receive the money. In conclusion, the money will be deposited and locked in their custody until you will be able to view & accept the condo.
If you want to know more about how this deal can work please get back to me ASAP and I will send you the step by step procedure. Let me know if you are interested because I really need to take care of this matter by the end of the next week. Please don’t forget also to send some information about you and the people with who you will be living with.
“I have a lot of money and need your help moving it out of the country.”
How the scam works: Someone very official or important-sounding needs your help moving money, and they promise you a large bonus in return. If you reply, they ask for relatively small sums to move the process along (fees, verification checks, etc).
Tip: Beware long-distance inquiries, requests to wire funds, or requests for personal information.
I have received the information concerning your house,the price is $239,750.Am very confident dealing with you.I am willing and capable to buy the property,but i want to trust you with this confidential proposal.
Before i continue, let me introduce myself to you, I am Captain IXXXX HXXXX the commander of the Special N.A.T.O coalition force with the United Nation troops in Iraq,on war against terrorism.My country is germany.
I have now in my possession the sum of USD 6.5 million which was recovered from one of our raids on terrorists camps here in Iraq,because they keep most of their money at home for evil activities which they normally get through illegal deals on crude oil.
Based on the suffering we undergo here some of us do meet such luck. It happened that in our last raid last week we raided one of the terrorist strong base here in Iraq,though some of the men in my unit lost thier lives in the fierce attacks,and we recovered this huge sum of money.This box of money have been deposited with the RED CROSS OFFICE here in Baghdd informing them that contacts are been made for its safe keeping and to make contacts for its proper use . As the team leader it is under my power to approve whoever comes forth for this money.
So i need someone i can deal with on trust and that is why i contacted you. so If you accept, I will put you forward as the beneficiary/owner of the funds and then move the money to you in Europe first. As a military personnel i cannot parade such an amount or carry it to my country so i need to present someone as the beneficiary.I just need your acceptance and all is done.I have a 100% authentic means of transferring the money through diplomatic courier service to you in Europe where arrangements will be made to proceed to your country America.
Once i confirm your interest to my proposal.and your positive reply i will proceed to register your name as the beneficiary.
If you are interested, then let me know so i can proceed to register the consignment in your name as time is very important to me. I am doing this on trust, you should understand that as a trained military expert I will always be carefully in my dealings so everything is intact. This money is my life and i am willing to give you 30% of the total sum when the money is delivered to you. I wait for your response so we can proceed immediately. In less than 7days the money should be in your safe custody.
The only telephone access we have is radio message which is for our general use and is being monitored,therefore all communication will be via email till we finish our assignment here and fly straight to your country to meet you. Thank God that the new President Elect, Barrack Obama whose keen interest is to call us back home soon.”
“I want to buy your property. Please send sensitive information.”
How the scam works: Someone contacts you remotely and proposes to buy or rent your property. They may ask for personal information that can be used to steal your identity or rob your bank account.
Tip: Beware long-distance inquiries or requests for personal information.
“I am interested in purchasing the property on 17 LXXXX Rd, CXXX HXXXX VXXXX CO XXXXX.Although the price is much “$4,000,000”. But i will convince my client regarding the property is a Single Family Residential. I know he must like it. I will like to view the copy of the contract of sale. As you are the real owner for this property. I will like to view the contract of sale. So it can be checked for any irregularities. Once the contract is okay and has been given the thumbs up by my client. I can then contact you and make an offer accorden to your request or Advise. I look forward hearing from you
Sincerely, Mr. CXXXX KXXXX BXXXX
7XXXX TXXXX bldg. 1-XX-XX HXXXX-IXXXX, TXXXX-XX ,
Last edited February 13, 2018
MAR 31, 2017
The property experts at Zillow, the leading real estate marketplace in the United States, share their tips for Australian home shoppers looking north.
Maybe you fell in love with a new city while on holiday in the US. Maybe you’re itching for a new experience. Or maybe, after observing the American dream from afar, you’ve decided to pursue it for yourself.
Whatever the reason, you’ve decided to move to the land of opportunity. But the prospect of navigating a foreign tax system, calculating extra administrative costs or learning about a completely different housing market can feel overwhelming.
For Australians looking to buy a home abroad, here are tips to keep in mind.
1. Talk to a pro
Make sure you talk to a professional before signing on the dotted line.Photo: Laurent Delhourme
Talking to an expert, such as a mortgage lender or real estate professional with experience helping international buyers, can help you figure out what you need to do and what you can expect from the process. It’s comforting to have a seasoned professional on your side and can help alleviate some fear of the unknown.
Use search tools, like Zillow’s Agent Finder, to choose an agent based on sales and listing activity, area of expertise and reputation.
A real estate agent is an important partner when buying a home as they can provide helpful information about homes and neighbourhoods and have an extensive knowledge of the home buying process. In the US, the sales commission is paid by the seller, so buyers do not pay to have an agent work on their behalf.
2. Beware of scams Some investor specialists try to take advantage of foreign investors who know little about the market. Be aware of the red flags for scams and internet fraud, and remember the key rule: it if sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
3. Understand the requirements In the vast majority of cases, there are no US laws that prohibit foreign nationals buying properties and owning land in the US. However, there are additional disclosure requirements for foreign buyers using cash in some cities. It’s best to work with a professional to navigate your specific needs when it comes to buying your new home.
Australian citizens who buy property in the US will need to complete and file a tax return annually in both Australia and the US. Generally, US property held by a foreign investor will be subject to additional requirements as stipulated by the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act. As an Australian resident, you are taxed on your worldwide income, including income from offshore bank accounts, any rental income from the US property and capital gains on overseas assets.
You don’t need to be a US citizen or have a green card to buy a home in the US, but you do need an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). An ITIN is a tax-processing number assigned to foreign nationals, who are required to have a US taxpayer identification number, but do not have one and are ineligible for a Social Security number.
An ITIN can be issued by the Internal Revenue Service or by an IRS-approved certified professional accountant.
4. Get financed
Using financing (like a mortgage) to buy a home is technically optional, but necessary for many buyers. US banks impose stricter lending criteria for foreign investors, which can make it difficult to obtain financing. Most banks require a hefty deposit, normally about a third of the home price.
Online tools are a good way to gauge what you can afford. However, Australian buyers will also want to consider issues such as currency exchange rates, international wire transfer fees, multinational taxation and accounting issues, and import-export restrictions regarding currency and household goods.
Success! Now what?
After finding a home, negotiating an offer and agreeing to a price with the seller, the home will go into escrow. Escrow is the period of time it takes to complete the remaining steps in the home buying process, including getting a home inspection and having the home appraised. At the home closing, you will sign all the paperwork required to complete the purchase. Welcome home!
When looking for rental properties, there are certain areas which offer a higher return on investment than others. Rental properties in areas that show prominent and steady job growth, population growth, and affordable cost of living are generally going to turn a bigger profit than a property in a high poverty area with little to no job growth.
Luckily, the United States seems to be chock-full of cities that match this description.
So where are these cities considered to be a best-buy? The top five cities to invest in stretch across the United States in various states showing that you don’t have to be on one particular cost to create a profitable rental portfolio.
Detroit is known as the Motor City and its industry level matches its name, with companies like General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler all claiming Detroit as home. There’s no end to job growth in the city either, as many other industries have begun to flock to the Metro Area, as well.
In addition to a solid job growth, Detroit has begun ranking as one of the hottest cities to invest in due to its incredible cost of living. Currently, Detroit holds the title of most affordable city for quality of life in the US, as well.
While these are great draws for residents transplanting into the area, there are numerous figures that seem to be beckoning out of state and out of country investors to the Motor City. The current median price for a single family home in the Detroit Metro Area is running at an impressive $65,000, while the average rental rate is around $900 a month. With low upfront costs and high rental demand, Detroit has quickly gained status in the investment industry.
When it comes to the Sunshine State, Orlando is a hot market to be in. While rental properties are in high demand in the Central Florida area, single family homes are still relatively affordable. Currently, you can pick up a fully renovated single-family home for under $120,000.
Over the last year, home values have increased and rental rates have skyrocketed an impressive 8%. In addition to great rental rates, property taxes and insurances are low, creating an even better cash flow for property owners.
As local job growth is one of the top factors of a successful rental property, Pittsburgh is definitely in the green. The city is home to a multitude of large corporations from every industry, including healthcare, education, technology, and finance.
The city has recently been ranked as one of the top 10 housing markets in the US for redevelopment and growth. Houses are averaging a median sales price of $150,000 with rental rates having increased by 12.6% over the last year.
Recently nominated as one of the Best Historic Cities in the nation. The average monthly rental rate is below the national average, with the average homeowner and renter paying less than 30% of their income toward their housing expenses—making Montgomery a top ranker for quality of life.
The current median sales price for a home in Montgomery comes in at approximately $125,000 while the average rental rate falls around $900 a month. The low property taxes combined with the moderate rental prices equal high return on investment rates for property owners.
Always fascinated with transportation, the city of Houston is home to NASA’s Mission Control as well as many oil-related businesses. The city has seen a population growth of over 15% from 2000 until 2017.
Rental demand continues to rise as job growth expands, which is good news for property owners. While property values are higher than some other best-buy cities, with the average cost coming in at $392,674, the rental rates even out the cost of purchase, averaging at $1,600.
Finding rental properties in the US is an easy feat; however, finding the right rental property can be a little more daunting. While trying to locate a cash-flow producing property may feel tricky at first, if you stick to this list of viable cities for rental properties, you’re sure to start out on the right foot.
How Good is US Property?
Planning to invest in a US property? Here are some things you need to know to ensure you get the most out of your planned investment in a US property:
A US investment property is very accessible
US property has become an appealing market recently due to its affordability. The low entry cost is the main reason; most specifically to several distressed markets/areas within the US.
It has a positive cash flow
US properties are positive cash flow, meaning that the rental returns are high and stable. As an example, you can have a US property rented for around $350 weekly, which is about the same in countries such as in Australia. However, a US property can have at least 10% rental return rate as it has much lower purchase price.
Capital growth potential
Though it needs some research and a considerable amount of legwork to understand the US market as well as certain areas that need to be focused on, such properties have a high potential for long term capital growth. This, in turn, can give you maximised rental return and can help build your equity in the long run.
Provides opportunity for diversity of investments
By investing in an offshore property like in the US would be a wiser strategy considering the potential of the properties in this country. By wisely choosing a strategic location within the US, one can have the benefit of paying lesser taxes as their holdings are spread across the different states.
Ownership of US real estate is the centrepiece of whаt іѕ known as the American Drеаm. There is no other place on the planet where you саn fіnd the best places to own property and ѕtаrt a home than in the US. If you have ѕаvеd uр еnоugh money waiting for the next big thing to come аlоng, whу nоt cash in on a tried and true investment venture thаt іѕ US real estate.
When you purchase American real еѕtаtе уоu wіll actually own something that has a fixed limited quantity. Thе amount of available land in the US or anywhere еlѕе for thаt matter is limited and only so many can be trаdеd аnd ѕоld. Once the population of a certain area оr region begins to increase, the value of the lаnd аrеа аlѕо begins to appreciate, which translates into tremendous рrоfіt potential for anyone who happens to be thе owner оf thаt land. A perfect example of this was the California gоld ruѕh оf thе 1850s. Land in California at the time wаѕ so cheap that the government was рrасtісаllу gіvіng it away to entice people to populate and settle. Whеn thе gоld rush exploded in the state, thousands of eager individuals frоm all over the country and even as far as Europe саmе tо Cаlіfоrnіа to try and find their luck. This resulted in the price land price іn сеrtаіn areas to skyrocket.
US Real Eѕtаtе – Tаngіblе Asset
Another benefit of оwnіng US rеаl estate property is the fact that you would have in уоur hand something that you can hold and manipulate. If уоu own a piece of land, you can build a building оr a hоuѕе оn top of it. You can be a landlord and rent it out so thаt you wоuld hаvе a monthly stable means of passive income. The ѕаmе could not be said to other іnvеѕtmеntѕ lіkе stocks because unlike land that persists еvеn іn the worst economic соndіtіоnѕ; ѕtосkѕ can lose their value and become worthless juѕt bу thе mеrе suggestion of impropriety or ѕсаndаl. Owning US real estate is assurance that уоu wіll have something of vаluе that would not be totally worthless.
Numerous Tax Bеnеfіtѕ and Opportunities
Owning US real estate рrореrtіеѕ соmеѕ with amazing perks like tax deductions if уоu play your cards right unlike Australia real estate properties. One way to get this is tо apply еnvіrоnmеntаllу friendly amenities to the property you оwn. If you own property that is rented, you саn dерrесіаtе it over the duration of its usefulness аnd even dеduсt any operational costs that were incurred i n оrdеr to maintain it in optimum working condition.
If you want уоu саn also utilise what is called a 1031 еxсhаngе. Thіѕ is a method wherein you gain the opportunity of not having to рау саріtаl gains taxes on a piece of property that you own. Utilising this mеthоd уоu would be able to sell a piece of real estate and then іnѕtаntlу uѕе the money earned to purchase another ріесе оf рrореrtу without incurring capital gains taxes. Dоіng this allows you to be able to trade bigger ріесеѕ of property efficiently.
Star Dynamic capitalises on the security of real estate investments by ensuring that all properties are handpicked in great neighbourhoods, renovated to high rental demand standards, and occupied by pre-screened, dependable tenants. These homes are selected for your individual investment and budget needs.
Metro Detroit is in a fairly legendary place in terms of its housing market. Tens of thousands of empty houses sit decomposing in some areas, while other areas are blossoming. You can find houses worth $80k that are selling for $150k—and some that are selling for $80. In terms of real estate investment, there has never been a place where the emptor needs more caveat. For an investor who mixes risk tolerance with diligence and patience, however, the potential rewards are above and beyond.
4 Upsides to Investing in Detroit
Upside #1: Rent-to-Value is Through the Roof
According to BiggerPockets’ annual real-estate market review, Detroit has the second highest rent-to-value ratio in the country at just over 8.5%. This means that investment properties in Detroit have enormous potential to pay off the initial investment quickly and turn into profit streams.
Upside #2: Low Entrance Requirement
Obviously, in a market where houses come in such a wide range of prices and actual values, it’s going to be possible to get in on the housing market for less money than in a market where houses are consistently kept near their actual value. This makes Detroit a choice market for people who want to turn a small amount of initial investment into a decent amount of cash flow.
Upside #3: Growth Happens
The Metro Detroit area is a mix of wealthy, fast-growing areas—and the opposite of that. As it happens, that’s a great recipe for finding homes in areas that are going to start growing, provided the overall economy of the area keeps trending upward. As the Metro Detroit area is trending upward and seems to be set to do so for quite some time, this makes finding likely investment homes easier here than in many markets.
Upside #4: Proactive Government
The City of Detroit is strong on its position that the real estate market in the city needs help—and they are definitely helping. By demolishing sizable tracts of empty, deteriorated homes, the city is in the process of “filling in the crater” that is the housing market of the suburbs surrounding midtown and downtown. Add to that significant improvement projects like the Cuts, a series of long, narrow parks connecting inland neighborhoods to the river, and the question becomes not if the real estate market is going up in value, but how fast.