It are often hard to understand who to trust together with your money. Consider, for instance , the case of 1 California land agent who purchased an investment property in Indianapolis, not knowing the property had about burned to the bottom just days earlier. He purchased renovations upfront and believed an investment trust would lookout of the renovations and property management. All he had to try to to was await the rent checks to return .

He lost $52,000. And he’s only one of the many people that claim to possess lost money within the debacle, which remains under investigation.

I’m not here to point fingers. What I am here to do is help potential investors choose their real estate investing team wisely. Investment is already risky; don’t make it worse by trusting the wrong people. When looking to invest, here are three qualities to look for in your real estate investment company or agent:

They meet with you personally or are referred through someone you trust.

Trustworthy lenders are more than happy to meet with you in person or chat over the phone. Scam artists, on the opposite hand, are too busy scamming people to grant you an in-person appointment. This makes it easier for people to fall for lending scams, which, unfortunately, can take many forms.

Whether you’re trying to find a lender or another land contact, get referrals from people you trust or through a licensed land investing website. A trustworthy professional will:

• Be knowledgeable and answer your questions intelligently.

• Provide original documents and be hospitable going over them with you.

• Meet with you face to face or speak with you on the phone.

They use the Multiple Listing Service.

Generally, trustworthy sellers list land through the Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, or through local realty websites that have access to the MLS. The MLS offers consolidated information and provides a platform for competing brokers to help clients buy and sell properties.

One benefit of the MLS is it requires listings and brokers to meet certain regulations, which exist to protect everyone involved. For example, property condition scams seek to take advantage of investors by posting fake pictures of run-down properties. Investors seeking to invest in properties in the best markets may not be able to visit the properties themselves and instead rely on pictures and third-party reports. With the regulations of the MLS, these scams are much harder to tug off.

Use a true realtor or buy from a seller who uses the MLS. You can be largely confident that the pictures and price on the listing are accurate and reasonable. If you’re buying through someone who doesn’t use the MLS, you may want to reconsider.

They’re offering a reasonable deal.

Legitimate sellers, lenders and agents are likely to be good at their jobs — in other words, they’re not getting to provide you with a deal that’s too good to be true, because that would be bad for business. Real estate investment is a significant commitment, and your real estate professional should be totally honest with you about costs and fees. Make sure they have these qualities:

• They’re offering you a property or loan around the average market rate.

• They did not approach you via social media to begin your professional relationship.

• If applicable, they have good reviews or references online.

Be wary of too-good-to-be-true deals, and do your research on sellers and lenders. If you’re local, confirm the for-sale or for-rent check in the lawn matches what the vendor has told you.

Please note that just because you got a referral, you found a property through the MLS or you’re being offered a deal at the average market rate doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve found someone 100% trustworthy. It are often easy to fall for too-good-to-be-true deals you discover online on an official-looking website. As Michael Scott explains during a 2006 episode of The Office, “When the son of the deposed king of Nigeria emails you directly asking for help, you help!” Be wise together with your hard-earned money, and you'll invest confidently .

Not an offer/solicitation to sell/buy securities. Securities offered through Emerson Equity LLC, member FINRA/SIPC, only in states where Emerson is registered or exempt from registration. All investing involves risk. Speak to your financial professional before investing. Past performance is not indicative of future results.