Every story should begin with a good hook, something to draw readers in. However, it becomes frustrating when there’s no story beyond the engaging first sentence. Many people in New York City’s real estate market have had a similar experience with bait-and-switch, where agents offer to show a listing, but then claim that it has already been taken and then try to show other units instead. Agents sometimes post fake listings just to draw clients in, and that is just a fact of the industry.

There are also listings that are complete scams, not just a shiny object to catch your attention. Here are some ways to notice false listings before you waste your time getting tricked.

The apartment number or address isn’t listed.

How can you be sure that an apartment exists if there isn’t proof of its location? “Oh that property has already been sold,” the agent will tell you. When in fact, sometimes the apartment doesn’t exist at all. But sometimes the apartment has actually been taken and the listing hasn’t been updated yet. The Real Estate Board of New York requires that all listings must be updated within 24 hours of a sale. However, it could also be a legitimate apartment, as agents will sometimes hide building details to prevent clients from going directly to management.

The agent provides little info.

If an agent doesn’t provide the brokerage they work for, it’s possible that they’re hiding information for a reason. One way to check is to look at other listings the agent has posted and see if the pictures all look similar. If the apartment seems to good to be true, it probably is. Another good way to verify if you’ll be happy working with that agent is to look up reviews on yelp, such as these reviews of TripleMint agents.

The agent tries to avoid questions about the apartment.

It is less than reassuring when an agent is reluctant to disclose floor plans or other information.

You: “Why has this listing been on the market so long?”

Broker: “Oh, the seller just took it off the market for a little while.”

You: “Can I see the floor plans?”

Broker: “My dog ate them.”

Hmm… very convincing.

Want some help navigating the real estate market?

At TripleMint, we take out the bait-and-switch and set you up with one agent who can show you multiple properties. Avoid the hassle of meeting a different broker for every apartment you look at and start your search here.