People selling their houses in Scotland have been warned to beware of internet scams surrounding the home report that has to be provided for every property marketed.
Surveyor firm DM Hall has raised an alert following a number of recent instances where scammers, impersonating reputable firms of surveyors, have offered sellers cut-rate home reports over Facebook and other social media platforms.
In fact these are home reports which may have been carried out some years ago and are in the public domain, but have been doctored by being redated and passed off as the recent work of the established firms.
The home report is intended to provide potential purchasers with all the relevant information they need on the condition of a property if they are thinking about making an offer, and its content is heavily relied upon by purchaser’s lenders when deciding on mortgage funding.The price of a home report is based on the value of the property, and normally starts at around £300 plus VAT.
Eric Curran, managing partner of DM Hall and chair of the Residential Property Professional Group Board of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), commented: "The scammers use our name and those of other reputable firms because they recognise that, as panel surveyors preferred by leading lenders, our professional opinion is highly-rated and forms the basis of their lending decisions.
"But when it comes to light that the home report in question is fake, lenders will immediately withdraw their offer of finance and the planned sale could collapse, causing serious irritation to everyone concerned; most likely, the house seller will be left out of pocket."
He said sellers should look out for the tell-tale signs of a scam: "First, they will offer their 'services' on social media at a price which is more [sic] than half the going rate and, second, will demand to be paid in cash. Contact numbers and company names are conspicuous by their absence.
"Wise homeowners should have nothing whatever to do with them or accept that they are about to become a victim. Alternatively they should seek the guidance and advice of a firm whose members are regulated by the code of conduct of the RICS."