In what could possibly be the most uneven housing swap ever to hit Dallas’ housing board on Craigslist, is this guy wanting to swap his home in Napa, Calif., for your home near White Rock Lake:

Napa for Dallas

 

So, would you trade this:

Napa Valley Photo

 

For this?

WHite Rock Lake Winfrey Point

For Rent Scam

As more homes hit the market, more rental scams hit CraigsList and other free classified sites, asking for deposits and fees before a potential tenant has seen a contract, or the property for that matter. Scammers are finding plenty of material on home searching sites that they then hijack for their own purposes, which makes this a truly difficult situation for both renters and Realtors.

We asked veteran Realtor, broker and founder of LocalDwelling.com, Colin Lardner, if he had any tips or tricks to help avoid scammers who might poach a listing or photos to bilk an unwitting renter.

“Keep a close tab on the syndicate sites (Trulia, Zillow, etc.) and inform them immediately when you see something wrong,” Lardner offered. “We have also contacted the FBI when we see a poached listing.”

On the flipside, Lardner says that it’s unlikely a scammer will poach listing information from Craigslist. “We have found that higher quality prospects come from other sources,” Lardner said. Still, tenants should watch out for fake listings as “Craigslist seems to get a fair amount of abuse from scam artists.”

But how do homeowners protect themselves from scammers spreading photos and information on their homes all over the Internet? Well, they don’t have too much to worry about, Lardner said, as prospective renters are more often victims of fraud than sellers or homeowners.

“Scammers are putting themselves out there as the owner and taking rent and deposit money from the prospect,” Lardner said, adding that LocalDwelling.com vets all owners and tenants rigorously, filtering through most scam artists and cons.

So, how do Realtors protect themselves from scams? By using MLS, Lardner said.

“MLS is hard to scam. If Realtors are searching for listings there they should be protected from the type of scams we see from people posing as owners,” Lardner said. “We are always available to the Realtor community to facilitate any property management and leasing issues.”

Have other questions about buying, selling, and leasing? Send us an email at jo@candysdirt.com.

So, CraigsList. I don’t know if I would ever buy a house off of the free classified site. Maybe rent one, yes, but buy? I don’t know. Between all they “Se Vende Casa” posts and “OWNER FINANCED!@!@!” listings, I just don’t see it as a credible source.

Still, people use it. I mean, it’s free, so I can see the attraction. But does putting listings on the site hurt your credibility? Would you ever try to market a property on the site?

I guess I’m just curious, especially in this hot market and hip-pocket age, how people are getting the word out on properties without putting them on MLS. Do you know of anyone that has legitimately sold a property using CraigsList?

Here are a couple of interesting CraigsList posts just to whet your curiosity:

CHEAP HOUSE

Nothing against the marketing genius behind this listing, but I am pretty sure that this home is going to need more than just “cosmetic updating” as the post claims. Also, I love the way they’re showing off the sizable front yard by using it as a parking lot. Bonus points for being honest in the post’s title. At $37,500, it certainly is a “cheap house.”

 

Greenville Craigslist post

 

There’s nothing I dislike more than the strange use of punctuation in CraigsList titles. I have no idea why they do things like this, which will obviously offend most people’s sensibilities. This is a cute little house and all, but I am wary of anything “owner financed.”

I know homeowners seek to have photo shoots and movies filmed at their homes. It’s a way to make money on a home that is either unoccupied or on the market. This, however, is a first for me, as I’ve never seen someone want to rent their home for an — ahem — adult film.

Not far from the Dallas Arboretum and White Rock Lake is this Little Forest Hills modern just of Lakeland Drive. How do I know it’s just off Lakeland? Because I walk, drive, and bicycle through this area almost constantly and I recognize the rusted corrugated fence and railroad tracks.

The owner, who advertised this home on Craigslist, says it is “VERY secluded” and “VERY private,” which would definitely be a plus for people being filmed completely naked, knocking boots, for movies that will be distributed to thousands of lonely people.

Here’s what I want to know — how do you prepare your home for being used in an adult film? Do you Scotchgard everything? Do you add a clause to the contract that all the furniture has to be disinfected after filming? And after seeing these photos, would you ever buy this home after knowing it may have been used as a location for a porn flick?

Discuss.

Looking for a rental and don’t want to waste your time? Skip Craigslist and check out local brokers.

If you want to rent a single-family home, sometimes the best way to find one is to drive around in the neighborhood you want to move to and look for a “For Lease” sign with a hand-written telephone number.

Sure, it’s time consuming and uses a ton of gas, but it’s better than combing through the crappy pictures on Craigslist, right? But what if you’re looking to rent in an area where “For Lease” signs are shunned. What if you don’t have time to tote a kid around while you drive up and down blocks looking for your next lease? What if you’re looking in a very specific area for very specific reasons, such as a school district? Where can you look?

I took my hypothetical family and their school-age child and decided to find them the perfect rental in Highland Park ISD using nothing other than my MacBook and coffee.

My first stop was Craigslist. That didn’t last too long. No matter what kind of search terms you plug in, you could end up looking at rentals in Allen or Southlake, which are both good communities, but alas, they are not in the Highland Park ISD attendance zone.

Next, I decided to try Zillow. Yes, it’s a national website, but the mapping feature makes it easy to find a home inside Highland Park or University Park. It doesn’t allow you to search for homes in specific school districts, which would be much more helpful. But, with the map feature, you get to see where the rentals are in relation to one another, which does help to identify more desirable areas.

After that, I decided to try some local brokerages. First stop was Clay Stapp & Co. I love the clean design of the site, and while you can narrow your search by Zip Code, you still can’t search by school district, which would be much easier for our hypothetical home renters.

Next I tried Keller Williams Elite and Allie Beth Allman & Associates. These two brokerages specialize in the Park Cities, so I was kind of surprised that they both use the same MLS info you can get from NTREIS rather than something a bit more custom. However, you can search for homes inside the Highland Park ISD attendance area, which is an excellent feature! No time wasted whatsoever!

Still, I wanted to see if I could push the envelope. Not only did I want our hypothetical family to live inside Highland Park ISD, I wanted them to live inside the Bradfield Elementary attendance zone. Lucky for them, the Ebby Halliday site lets you search not only by school district, but by school, too.

It was on their site that I found 3414 Asbury. It’s a two-story duplex with three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths and a great backyard. It’s practically new on the inside and rents, appliances included, for $2,900 a month, which, considering the cost of private schools, is a great price. I hope our family likes it!