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Tennessee is a great place to live, so it’s no surprise that a lot of folks have been looking to relocate here.

The Memphis and Nashville areas are both particularly popular (although you really can’t go wrong anywhere in the state). Unfortunately, real estate scams are on the rise in the state precisely because there are so many people looking to buy property.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance does what it can to try to alert potential home buyers of the real estate scams that are making the rounds, but it’s smart to do your own research and be wary. Here are some tips about how to avoid common real estate scams:

  1. Be wary of “cloud-based companies” that aren’t legitimate businesses. These fly-by-night entities may even spoof existing companies’ websites or steal the identity of actual real estate agents to make themselves look legitimate.
  2. Check out a potential real estate agent and company. Use the Tennessee Real Estate Commission’s online tool to make sure that they are licensed and that you have the correct contact information.
  3. Do a Google search on the address you are given for the real estate agent or company. Make sure that all the information you see matches. In particular, consumers are urged to make sure that suite numbers and floors given in an address match up with everything they find.
  4. Do not pay any money upfront. Do not send money to a post office box. In general, you don’t want to let money change hands until you are absolutely certain that a business is legitimate and a sale is real.
  5. Beware of fake listings. Some fraudsters will put up listings of houses that aren’t really for sale — or aren’t even located where they’re supposed to be. Again, Google can help you check out what a property really looks like and confirm a listing.

It’s always wise to involve an experienced real estate attorney when you’re ready to close on a house. That’s the smartest way to make sure that you aren’t being scammed.