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How To Avoid Rental Scams with the Help of a REALTOR®

Today's housing market is a major point of conversation. Buyers are facing drastic interest rate increases and challenging appraisals due to record-breaking prices. Right now, the national median cost of buying a house has exceeded $400,000. This new standard of sales prices has forced many to consider the pros and cons of rental opportunities. Even if leasing a home wasn't part of the plan, many potential buyers are turning towards this option as a means of finding an affordable and fast living situation while monitoring the market. But there can be severe consequences to acting too quickly in this internet-driven era of property searching. With help from Baldwin REALTORS®, learn how to navigate the leasing market and avoid scams created by fake ads for available rental properties.

Where to Start?

If you're shopping around for possible rental properties, you need accurate information regarding price and availability. Sometimes, sites like Craigslist and Facebook host ads for property rentals that have not been appropriately vetted. These ads often ask for a large deposit or even first and last month's rent up front, only for the prospective renter to realize that the property was never actually available to rent. Many of these scams are vacant homes that are actually for sale, not rent.

If you’ve found an ad for a rental home, the first proactive step you should take is to go to and search their Multiple Listing Service (or MLS) by “Residential Lease Search.” There you can browse all Residential Lease Properties or search by a given address. The rental properties on this website are not all-encompassing for Baldwin County, but they are the rental properties represented by a local REALTOR®. If the property you’re viewing can be found on this search, you can have peace of mind in knowing that it is a trustworthy listing, as REALTORS® agree to business standards set forth by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. However, if you do not see the property through these search results, you’ll want to continue in your due diligence.

There are a few questions to ask upon finding rental properties that do not show in the Multiple Listing Service’s “Residential Lease” search results.

  1. Is the property priced too low? Scammers will often price properties under market range to get your attention. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

  2. Is the owner willing to meet you in person at the property? If the person you have contacted regarding the property cannot meet you in person and has no way to get you inside the property, then it is most likely a scam.

  3. Have you driven by the property? If you drive by the property and notice a “For Sale” sign in the yard, call the REALTOR® listed on the sign. They will be able to give you the accurate information you need on that property.

Additionally, there are other websites that can help you in your investigation. By visiting the local county property appraiser website, you can find the owner’s information by a simple search of the property address. Also, you can search the address of the property on search engines (like Google and Bing) to view all instances where the property is showing online. If you find the property listed as “for sale” on another site, contact the listing agent or owner to obtain accurate information.

Why Choose a Baldwin REALTOR®?

Through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Baldwin REALTORS® has the most timely and accurate data on your local housing market. The REALTOR® you choose can prevent you from falling for leasing scams by providing reliable information on legitimately available housing. All the data they need is right at their fingertips through their unique access to the MLS, which stores housing information in one place and regularly updates changes to home listings.

Baldwin REALTORS® depends on the MLS for a couple of reasons. First, the MLS is protected by a set of Rules and Regulations that ensures all information is up-to-date and correct. Any data that is not compliant can result in fines for the listing agent. And second, the MLS only allows licensed real estate professionals to list properties within the platform. Other sites and apps allow almost anyone to create accounts and upload purchase or rental details, with no verification. To learn more about the benefits of the MLS and gain a fuller understanding of how it works, visit

In this confusing market, you need a trustworthy real estate professional to help you reach either your well-planned or your most unexpected housing goals. Baldwin REALTORS® are part of the National Association of REALTORS®. This means that your chosen REALTOR® adheres to a yearly updated Code of Ethics, as well as regular industry training that ensures he or she is up to date on the most recent market trends and industry data. In turn, you will receive loyal service and honest real estate guidance.

If you’re shopping for a rental opportunity, don’t hesitate to visit to find a REALTOR®equipped with competence, compassion, and connection to the specifics of the ever-evolving housing market.



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