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Careful When Buying a House on Facebook

Facebook has been around for over a decade and it hasn’t just changed things like how we interact with power brands and our friends; it has changed how we live our lives. With over 1.9 billion users on the platform, Facebook is a valuable place for sellers to market their products and a lot of small business people have been using the platform during the pandemic in order to make some income during shutdowns.

We have liquor sellers, blanket sellers, solar startups, electronic hawkers and many more creating groups and posting in various groups. Customers love this because it usually allows them to cut out the middlemen who usually put a markup on what they buy. The problem with Facebook though is that it allows anyone to post anything.

Houses in Dipleague

The real Dipleague was founded by Cambria’s CEO, Samir Shasha back in 2004 as a local version of Craigslist. The emailing list was supposed to help diplomats and NGO staff to “acclimatise” to Zimbabwe but a lot of people joined up specifically to sell all sorts of things to these people who tend to have significant spending power.

The real Dipleague eventually died but it was so famous among the “hustle” community that Facebook and WhatsApp groups with the same name just started cropping up. There are tens of groups with the name on Facebook and they all have at the very least tens of thousands of members who buy and sell to each other.

Worryingly, some of these Dipleague groups actually allow “agents” to sell houses. They also allow house owners to sell their properties directly to would-be buyers. Now that is a recipe for disaster no matter which side of the sale you are coming from.

Houses are complicated fixed assets that involve a lot of technical know-how when it comes to selling and buying them. These complexities are beyond the reach of the ordinary man on the street and such transactions might end up with one party being cheated by the other with no room to seek redress.

Horror stories to prove the point

Again it doesn’t seem like the agents or people who post these houses for sale in these groups are actually accredited agents at law. Nor does it seem like they were vetted before they post in these groups. The admins in these groups just demand a monthly subscription from would-be sellers and then grant whoever pays this subscription the ability to be able to automatically post ads.

A number of people have already fallen for some of these ads in the past. People have horror stories to tell:

  • A number of people complained that they ended up overpaying for a house. People who post these houses do not do a valuation, they just usually pick a number out of hat and stick to it. There is no basis for what they are charging.
  • Some “agents” demanded upfront payments so they could show you the property and after paying some people learnt that the house had already been sold. Either the agent was aware and simply didn’t care or they were so far removed they did not even know that some of the properties they had listed were sold.
  • Proof of ownership could not be established. This was especially true for “rural” properties where it’s not easy to verify that the person claiming to be the owner or making the sale was the owner or was authorised to make the sale in the first place. Oftentimes just because you are the owner doesn’t mean you can legally sell, for example, husbands involved in divorce proceedings with their wives.
  • Sometimes some people would get sold a property that has already been sold to someone else. This was the case with an inherited house where siblings were embroiled in a bitter battle, different siblings sold the house to different people who all paid a deposit to different people
  • Some were sold houses on unapproved land and ended up losing them

The thing is, it’s simply not a good idea to buy a house on Facebook. You need to find approved agents, these are likely to act in a legal manner and do all the important legwork for you. Here on Propertybook for example, we have a number of approved agents listed with us..