Date Posted: February 8, 2023
What Is Real Estate Title Fraud?
Real estate title fraud is a serious crime that can cost you thousands of dollars and months of your time. Here's how to protect yourself from this scam.
If you're buying or selling a home, you probably have several things on your mind: getting a fair price for your property and making sure that the other party is trustworthy enough to close on time. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous sellers will try to take advantage of these concerns by deliberately falsifying the title history of their property.
Typically, someone falsifies the legal documents associated with a property sale to hide past issues that may have caused problems for previous owners or renters. These issues could include liens against the home (such as unpaid taxes), foreclosures or divorces that had not been settled legally before the sale went through, or even criminal activity involving one or more parties involved with the property over time (such as drug dealing). This practice is known as real estate title fraud, and it can result in very costly consequences for unsuspecting buyers.
How to Protect Yourself from Real Estate Fraud
1. Always make sure that you're buying land from a reputable seller. If someone approaches you claiming to be a real estate agent, find out if they're employed by a licensed firm.
2. Never sign anything without having it reviewed by an attorney—especially if it involves transferring property ownership. This will help ensure that your interests are protected in case something goes wrong down the line.
3. Ask for proof of ownership, such as an official deed or other document with a seal on it (and make sure that seal hasn't been tampered with). You should also make sure that whoever is selling you this land has permission from the owner(s) of any adjoining properties to sell it to you as well!
4. Check the property records for any liens or other claims against the land. If there are any, find out if they're valid and how you can resolve them with the owner(s).
5. Make sure that there aren't any zoning laws prohibiting what you want to do with your new land (for example, building a house on it). If there are, you may be able to get a variance or special permit from the appropriate municipality.
6. Check with your local building department to see if any permits are required for whatever construction you want to do on your land.
Always use a trusted mortgage broker and real estate agent when buying or selling your property.
Find a reliable mortgage broker here.