Unfortunately, real estate scams have been around for as long as people have been buying and selling property. Scammers constantly hatch new schemes to separate good people from their hard-earned money. Lest you think that you're too savvy to get caught up in one of these underhanded plans, know that even the most sophisticated financial experts are falling victim to some of the new scams. Do you know what to look for? Read on to learn about some of today's common real estate scams and how you can spot them!

Phony Investment Seminars

This one may seem legit at face value, but it definitely falls into the "too good to be true" category. This scam doesn't try to get money from you at first. You're offered a free ticket to a seminar and a free gift for attending, with promises of no high-pressure sales tactics. When you get there, though, the free gift is only offered to those who buy tickets for future seminars. As you might expect, the future seminars sound amazing and informative, but as you also might expect, they fall well short of expectations. In many cases, when you arrive at the advertised location and time of the future seminar, nothing is there at all, sometimes not even a building. Although this one only robs you of a few hundred dollars, it's money you might have invested in a legitimate financial instrument.

Empty Houses "For Rent"

This is the most pervasive scam out there, and it's extremely difficult to see through. It's unique in the fact that it makes victims of both renters and homeowners. Con artists look for homes that appear to have been abandoned or that have been vacant for a long period of time. The homeowner may be on an extended vacation, working overseas or live there only part-time. The con artists break in, change the locks, then post rental listings online. They may claim to be the owner or a property manager authorized to rent on behalf of the homeowner. Many go so far as to print out official-looking documents for you to sign in order to rent the property. You move in and set up house and the scammers collect your money every month until someone catches on. Often, the homeowners return to find a stranger living in their home without a clue that anything is amiss. This scam is also popular with foreclosed-on homes.

How to Protect Yourself

You must remember that in real estate, as with anything else, you get what you pay for. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is! Unfortunately, you can only do so much to protect yourself. Working with a licensed RealtorĀ® is by far your best protection against scams, but make sure your agent is licensed too (another popular scam today). Check your state's real estate licensing authority's website, where you will be able to look up any licensed agent or broker.

In Southern California and the Inland Empire, the Edie Israel Team specializes in helping home buyers and sellers, and protecting them from the many hazards and pitfalls that may come along. Contact Edie Israel today and rest assured that your real estate experience will be safe and pleasant.