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Real Estate Investors: Tips For Spotting Investment Scams

Apr 19, 2008
Real estate investors encompass many arenas in the real estate game. Honest investors can help you locate great deals on investment properties or teach you how to become a successful investor. In today's downtrodden market, some investors specialize in purchasing homes to help individuals stop foreclosure.

Con artist real estate investors are only out to turn a quick buck and don't have your best interests at heart. They'll smooth-talk you into selling your property for pennies on the dollar or convince you to invest in their latest-greatest real estate investing course. Some even sink so low as to con you into investing in property that will pad their pocket and leave you holding an empty bag.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of shady real estate investors who invade your privacy with the promise of unlimited wealth. They bombard you with unsolicited emails, provide free tickets to investing seminars, and entice you to order their wealth-building real estate course through late-night infomercials.

One of the most common real estate scams comes from investors who offer to purchase your home and help you stop foreclosure. They prey on distraught homeowners and promise to solve all their financial problems. If you are facing foreclosure, there are plenty of legitimate investors who can help you resolve the problem.

The difference between an honest investor and a scam artist is that honest investors don't send literature in the mail or call you on the phone to solicit your business. If you are in need of an investor to purchase your home through a short sale, it's best to obtain a referral from friends, family or co-workers. At the very least, conduct research via the Internet and seek out reputable private real estate investors or investment companies.

Another popular real estate scam involves the sale of expensive investment courses. These late-night infomercial gurus promise to teach you insider secrets and show you how to purchase a home with no-money down. Thing is, the days of zero down payment are history. Purchasing an outdated investment course will only put you further in debt.

There is an abundance of real estate investing courses available for free or a nominal fee. Many of these seminars can be located on Realtor or Private Investor websites. Others can be found tucked away in the video section of your local library and checked out for free.

Nearly everything you need to know about real estate investing, selling distressed property, or learning how to stop foreclosure is available on the Internet for free. There are thousands of websites and articles written by professional real estate investors eager to share their wisdom and help you become an informed consumer.

Perhaps the biggest real estate scam of all time stems from shady investors who lure individuals with the promise of great wealth by investing in foreclosure homes. These con artists draw you in by claiming they can teach you how to pick up distressed properties for half their market value. All you have to do is plunk down several hundred dollars to learn their trade secrets.

Others attempt to lead you down the rosy path with the promise of delivering lists containing hundreds of foreclosure homes. They make their money by charging you a hefty monthly fee in order to access this list. Thing is, you can locate these properties for free by making a trip to your local County Recorder's Office. Foreclosure information is public record and available to anyone. When you visit the courthouse search for properties listed as Notice of Default (NOD), Notice of Sale or Lis Pendens.

If you don't have time to visit the courthouse, there are several reputable firms that provide foreclosure listings for a nominal fee. Most offer a free trial and allow you to try out their service. If you're serious about investing in foreclosure properties, signup for two or three trial services and compare properties offered. If you benefit from the information, continue with the service. Otherwise, be certain to cancel your subscription prior to the end of the trial to avoid being billed for the service.

Another way to locate distressed investment properties is to conduct research on banking websites. Many banks list real estate owned properties directly on their website. REO properties are foreclosure homes that did not sell at auction and have been returned to the bank. Look for a link that says "REO", "Bank Owned", "Foreclosure" or "Distressed Properties" on the home page. If you are unable to locate this information, use the search box, site map or contact the bank directly to inquire about properties they hold.

There are many variations when it comes to buying or selling distressed properties. If you fall prey to scammer, it could potentially cost you thousands of dollars and leave you with nothing to show for it. Before buying or selling property through a real estate investor, engage in due diligence to ensure you are working with a trusted professional. Conduct research online by typing in the investor's name or visit the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org.

The age-old saying of "if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is" holds true today. However, there are many reputable real estate investors who offer incredible investment deals, can teach you how to become a successful investor, or can help you save your home from foreclosure. All that is required to locate these individuals is to take time to ensure the person you are working with holds the appropriate credentials and a solid track record.
About the Author
Simon Volkov is a private Real Estate Note Investor helping individuals who need to liquidate their real estate. Simon offers investment opportunities via RSS feed and email subscription. Learn more about real estate and other services offered by visiting www.SimonVolkov.com.
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