We've been warned for years that if something looks too good to be true it probably is. This holds true for real estate listings on online classified ad sites as well. If something looks like a steal of a deal, move forward carefully and cautiously. Keep your eyes and ears open and watch for anything that could raise a red flag.
Recently, investment listings have been appearing on some classified ad sites that advertise the same buildings with different prices. Anyone can put up an ad on one of these sites even if he isn't qualified to sell or list property. A licensed agent in Alberta must include the name of the brokerage and his own personal name in the ad.
If you ever see a property being listed as a foreclosure, look for the agent’s name and his brokerage within the ad. If it doesn't appear there, it really isn't a foreclosure. Foreclosures must be court-ordered and include a licensed real estate agent. This ensures that the bank gets back the market value of the property and that everything is done legally and properly.
If you see something interesting at an online site you should always make sure that there is an agent working with the property. There are too many scams and suspicious activities taking place these days in regards to homes being sold by their owners. It's not worth the risk of losing an entire down payment to an unscrupulous character that knows how to put up ads. Purchasing a home through an agent doesn't cost the buyer any money. It's the seller that has to pay the commissions when a deal is made and the final closing costs are all added up. You have absolutely nothing to lose by working with an agent to purchase a new home or an investment property and everything to gain.