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Real Estate Investors: How to Spot Con Artist Scammers

Some real estate investors are circling like vultures in distressed markets. Waiting and watching to catch the distraught homeowner having a weak moment, then sweeping in to save the day by offering to buy their home for pennies on the dollar.

There are plenty of shady real estate investors who will invade your privacy with promises of wealth. They encourage you to invest in distressed properties through unsolicited emails, send you free tickets to investing seminars, and entice you through late-night infomercials.

Everyone is susceptible to smooth-talking con artist scammers. And when it comes to real estate there is no shortage of scams. One of the most common is companies who offer to buy your home and help you stop foreclosure. This is not to say there aren't legitimate real estate investors who can purchase your house and help you avoid the agonizing process. The difference is, you seek them out. They don't send literature in the mail or call you on the phone.

Another popular real estate scam comes from individuals who attempt to sell you expensive investment courses. They promise to teach you all the secrets of success and show you how to purchase a mansion with no-money down. The days of zero down payment are history and purchasing an expensive course is only going to put you further in debt.

The reality is, you can find nearly everything you need to know about real estate investing, selling distressed property, or learning how to stop foreclosure via the Internet for free. There are thousands of websites and articles written by real estate experts who generously share their knowledge.

Perhaps one of the biggest real estate scams is the lucrative lure of investing in foreclosure properties. Con artist scammers will tell you can pick these distressed properties up for half their market value. This is rarely, if ever, the case.

Investing in foreclosures can be a real headache and there is nothing simple about them. However, they can also be quite profitable. If a company charges large sums of money to help you locate foreclosures, chances are it's a scam. You can locate foreclosures in your area for free by paying a visit to your local County Recorder's Office. Foreclosure information is public record and available to anyone. Search for Notice of Default (NOD), Notice of Sale or Lis Pendens.

If you are unable to get to the courthouse, it's easy to locate foreclosure properties online. There are several reputable organizations that provide listings for a monthly fee. Seek out organizations who offer a free trial and sign up for two or three trials to compare properties offered. Be certain to cancel your subscription according to terms of service, otherwise you will be billed for the monthly service.

Many banks list real estate owned properties on their website. REO properties are foreclosure homes that did not sell at auction and are returned to the bank. Look through your local phone book to compile a list of banks in your area. Then use your favorite search engine to locate their website. Due to the volume of bank owned properties, the majority of banks have created a distressed properties list directly on the home page.

It's important to note there are many aspects of investing in distressed properties. If you fall prey to scammers, it could 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

The old saying of "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" holds true today. However, there are many trustworthy real estate investors who can offer you the deal of the century and help you achieve your financial goals. You simply need to take time to make certain that the person you are dealing with holds the appropriate credentials and can prove their track record.

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Published on April 14, 2008 at 11:17 PM

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