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How to stay safe from real estate scams  Law enforcement departments in the country have been actively fixing the issues that haunt the real estate market, including illegal developments and property scams. We have seen this happen in Islamabad and Karachi, where on the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the land development authorities are carrying out action against illegal developments.

In all their essence, these steps are commendable as they will help the industry grow in the right direction. In order to stay safe from falling prey to fancy marketing gimmicks, you need to watch out and be mindful of a few things. This article will walk you through tips that can help you keep safe from fraud.

Get the documents verified

Making fake claims is easier for a newly launched society. Some of these developers also use fake NOC numbers to trick property buyers, while others find it okay to market the project without even getting one. We have also seen from time to time that a project launched without formal approval issued from the concerned authorities ends being a source of pain for investors.

If the marketing staff of a real estate project presents you a copy or NOC number supposedly issued by the concerned land authority, you must get the information verified. Sometimes, these authorities issue preliminary planning approvals to some developments, which doesn’t mean that the society has been approved. It actually means that the authority has allowed it to prepare the society planning details and present it before the authority, on basis of which it will decide if NOC should be issued for it.

So be vigilant about NOCs and approvals, and always get the information verified from the office of the relevant land authority.

Watch out for notifications

Land authorities always issue approvals and NOCs against a particular and fixed land area of the project, and never for possible future extensions. Some societies may have related approvals issued for certain blocks and sectors, but not for the ones launched after that. Make sure that the property you purchase lies in the block or area that has been approved.

For all societies new or existing, the respective land development authorities have all the details. If they find a developer extending the project without any approval, they will use the newspaper medium to publish notifications, declaring the extension illegal and warning property buyers against investing there.

The land authorities publish notifications not just for illegal extensions, but for all new societies that are seen marketing their projects without receiving an NOC. So by keeping a tab on local dailies, you can find out which one of these societies shouldn’t be on your list for purchasing property.

Go for on-ground plots

Real estate developers are known for acquiring a small amount of land and launching their own projects. If a project is launched by a known developer, many property buyers might not worry about confirming if the developer has yet acquired all the land against which they are issuing property files. We have seen many such projects where the developer sold more files and managed to acquire only a small percentage of land.

The most common reason developers often fail to acquire the required amount of land is the cost of land itself, which increases overtime. In some cases, land owners may even refuse to sell their land. With such apprehensions that exist with land acquisition processes, it is best to buy on-ground plots, or to go for projects where the developer only issues property files against the land they have already acquired.

Prefer buying on cash instead of installments

If you have purchased property on instalments, you must have noticed that the terms and conditions you are required to sign include this particular term that the developer holds the right to change the society map. When you sign this contract, you agree to let the location of your plot be changed as and when the developer wants. For general category plots, there shouldn’t be much to worry about, but for plots at prime locations such as those at a corner, facing a park, or lying on bigger roads, you might end up getting a general category plot if the map changes. In such situations, the developers are not very accommodating about compensating the plot owner.

Please note that the developers often don’t change these terms and conditions for general buyers, but if you think there is a possibility, you must ask for your own conditions just to ensure that you don’t sign anything that can create problems for you in the future. In this regard, buying property from the secondary market on cash is a good option.

Make payments through bank drafts

When you make payments through a bank draft, its record is maintained by the respective bank, allowing you to keep a track of the payments you have been making. If you end up in an unfortunate situation where the project turns out to be fake or shady, the bank draft can help you pursue your case more strongly with the law enforcement authorities and in the court. Keeping track of payments is important in monetary transactions. You must also keep the receipts safe with you.


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