Investing in pre-construction home can be disastrous

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DEAR BOB: About a year ago, I had an opportunity to buy into a pre-construction, out-of-town development. I checked out the local market, which at that time was a "hot" seller's market. So I invested a $25,000 deposit on a fourplex. Unfortunately, the developer was a crook who filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Is there any way to get my $25,000 back? --Todd Y. DEAR TODD: If you are a regular reader of this column, you know I do not recommend investing in real estate that is more than an hour's drive from your home. The reason is then you can easily see, touch, smell, and watch it. Purchase Bob Bruss reports online. You didn't "invest" $25,000 in that out-of-town project. You speculated when you turned over your $25,000 to the developer. Some states, such as California, require pre-construction deposits be held in a trust or escrow account so the developer can't use those funds. Apparently, that didn't happen or the developer's bankruptcy trustee would have informed you. What did you learn f...