Real estate and mortgage fraud were two factors that contributed significantly to the demise of the American housing market a decade ago, and these unethical practices became more commonplace in the most active regional markets. Even though regulation and oversight have largely improved the real estate markets, scammers are always on the lookout for opportunities to ply their wicked trade.

In a Boston condo seller’s market such as the one we’re  having now, prospective Boston condo buyers should be aware of certain situations that could put them at risk of fraud. Here are five real estate scams you must avoid as you look at condos, lofts, or penthouses for sale in downtown Boston.

1. Email Access

CNBC reported on this real estate scam last year. At a time when Boston condo buyers are finding few mortgage options that allow down payments lower than 20 percent of the purchase price, hackers are trying to breach email accounts so they can intercept wire transfers. In most cases, hackers will send a fraudulent email message to the buyer with a change of wire instructions. This message will appear to come from the title agent in charge of the closing. To avoid this scam, Boston condo buyers should confirm wire transfer instructions in person or over the telephone.

2. For Sale by Owner Ruse

Scammers who take advantage of For Sale by Owner listings often present homebuyers with a rent-to-own proposal that is too good to be true. In many cases, these fraudsters impersonate sellers of vacant properties that do not belong to them. The most sophisticated crooks resort to identity theft, but they are usually flushed out with a title search.

3. High Appraisal

In this scam, sellers produce a copy of an appraisal that indicates a property value thousands of dollars higher than the listed price. In a seller’s market, this situation will not make financial sense even if the homeowner is in a rush to close the transaction, and there is a chance the seller’s appraisal is a fake document.

4. Contract for Deed

Although this real estate practice conforms to property transfer laws, it is currently under investigation in various states. Instead of signing a mortgage, buyers are pressured into signing a contract that obligates them to make improvements to a property that is falling apart. The onerous fees and outrageous conditions are designed to make buyers fail on their contracts and transfer the title back to the seller, usually a real estate investment company, after a few months.

5. Bait and Switch Mortgage

This scam is more likely to be pulled by a mortgage broker working with a condo builder. A construction loan offer is made and easily approved with favorable terms and conditions. When the unit is finished and ready for occupancy, the broker will push the mortgage applicants to agree to new and unreasonable fees, terms, and conditions. Buyers should not limit their mortgage options to a sole broker.

Boston condos for sale

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Condos around Boston to rent:

Back Bay area condos for rent
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Navy Yard Charlestown area condos for rent
Dorchester area condos for rent
Fenway area condos for rent
Jamaica Plain area condos for rent
Leather District area condos for rent
Midtown area condos for rent
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South Boston area condos for rent
South End area condos for rent
Waterfront area condos for rent
North End area condos for rent
West End area condos for rent
East Boston area condos for rent


Author Profile

John Ford
John Ford

Over the course of 20 years in the Boston downtown real estate market, John represented and sold numerous, condominiums, investment and development properties in Greater Boston and in the surrounding suburbs

In addition to representing Boston condo buyers and sellers, John is currently one of the most recognized Boston condo blog writers regarding Boston condominiums and residential real estate markets. John's insights and observations about the Boston condo market have been seen in a wide variety of the most established local & national media outlets including; Banker and Tradesman, Boston Magazine The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald and NewsWeek and Fortune magazine, among others.


For over 24 years, John Ford, of Ford Realty Inc., has been actively involved in the real estate industry. He started his career in commercial real estate with a national firm Spaulding & Slye and quickly realized that he had a passion for residential properties. In 1999, John entered the residential real estate market, and in 2000 John Started his own firm Ford Realty Inc. As a broker, his clients have come to love his fun, vivacious, and friendly attitude. He prides himself on bringing honesty and integrity to the entire home buying and selling process. In addition to helping buyers and sellers, he also works with rental clients. Whether you’re looking to purchase a new Boston condo or rent an apartment, you’ll quickly learn why John has a 97% closing rate.


Back Bay

Beacon Hill

Charles River Park


North End

South End

Seaport District

South Boston



Surrounding Communities of Boston
John Ford and his staff can be reached at 617-595-3712 or 617-720-5454. Please feel free to stop by John's Boston Beacon Hill office located at 137 Charles Street.

John Ford
Ford Realty Inc
137 Charles Street
Boston, Ma 02114



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