Protect Yourself and Avoid Fraud
Real estate scams are a reality of the marketplace — but you don’t have to fall victim to them. Here are some tips to help protect you from real estate fraud.
- Ask questions. When anyone calls offering real estate services, ask for their license number, references and relevant experience…or ask them to stop calling.
- Use only California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE) licensees. Real estate agents have to include their license numbers in all advertisements. You can check their license status and any disciplinary history online at
- Don’t pay in cash or wire money to anyone. Cash and wired funds are hard to recover. Pay with check or credit card and get receipts.
- Steer clear of signing what you don’t understand. Read all documentation carefully. If you don’t understand something, ask a friend or an attorney for help.
- Beware of advertisements. Anyone can advertise on television, the radio, newspapers or the internet. Ads are not screened for truthfulness, so hearing or reading an ad does not make it true or lawful.
- Keep away from anyone asking to transfer or sign your home to a third party. Scammers will often recommend transferring your property deed or title to them, claiming it will help you repair credit, but this is an immediate red flag.
- Look for warning signs. If the individual asks for payment upfront, pressures you to sign papers or tells you not to contact a lender, do not participate.
- Do your research. Search online and find out as much information as possible about the person or entity. People who have had previous experiences will often review them and notify the public of a scam.
- Slow it down. Don’t be rushed into anything or feel pressured to “act now.” Take your time to review and do your research.
- Be skeptical. If a deal or a service sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Keep yourself and your money safe by not jumping on a deal that sounds too perfect.