Lisa Priest

Unfortunately, there are people out there that are scamming rental listings, renters, agents and landlords.  Yes, rental scams exists in Palestine, Texas! 

I just caught one of my listings being used as a scam listing last week.  In my case, the scammer took my photos from a house that is for sale in Palestine and posted it as a rental in Palestine for a ridiculously low price.  (The home was listed for rent at $550/month. The home is not for rent, it is only for sale. However, if it were for rent, it would be over $1,000/month easily.) I was able to get the fake scam listings removed because I saw it quickly.

The internet is a great way to find your next rental, but use common sense when searching.  Use some of these tips to avoid a rental scam:

1.  Bad pics or watermarked pics — Watch out for rental listings where all the photos are extremely blurry.  This is often a sign that they have swiped the photos from a legitimate source.

2.  Absentee owner – Any listing that says anything about the “landlord” being out of the country for any reason (mission trips, peace corps, etc.) should be a red flag.  They will use God, mission trips and Peace Corps service as ways to gain your confidence and make you believe they are a good person.  Don’t fall for it. 

3.  Keys – They can’t meet you at the property? They don’t have the keys right now? Yeah, no.  Never rent something if you can’t get inside to take a look.

4.  Too cheap – The biggest red flag is typically the price.  If it’s a 3,000 square foot house with granite countertops and all the bells and whistles advertised for $500/monthly rent, there is a problem.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

5.  For Sale too – The house is also listed for sale with an agent, but the rental advertisement is not the same contact info as the real estate agent’s listing. Big red flag.  No agent would take a listing that was for rent by another source.

6. Strange emails – If you are in email correspondence with the “landlord” and the email seems very generic, starts out with “Dear Sir / Madam,” the English is generally very poor, it’s a scam.

7. Wired funds – If they ask you to wire funds to an offshore account, or they tell you they will send you a money order and you will cash it for them and reimburse them the difference, or anything else that feels remotely shady….Run!

8. Drive by – Take a drive by the house. When you drive by, is the sign in the yard the same contact info that was on the ad? If you are unsure, call the agent’s phone number on the sign in the yard and tell them you are calling to verify the rental ad you saw on this property. 

The bottom line in avoiding a scam is to use common sense. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Are there great rental deals out there? Absolutely.  However, it pays to do a little homework to make sure you are dealing with the actual owner.

Lisa E. Priest is a Property Manager and realtor with Picket Fence Realty, Inc. You can reach her via phone or text at 903-948-3343 or email or at

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