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Archive for the 'Home Ownership Search' Category

August 26, 2015

geoPreventing real estate fraud is a major challenge that most real estate sales professionals, and even lenders for that matter, encounter. Real estate fraud presents itself in many forms – some more common than others.

Title fraud: Though this doesn’t happen often, it is a costly form of fraud that one hopes they are protected against with their title insurance. As a real estate sales professional, do you want to be associated with the origination where title fraud is present on a deal? Absolutely not. The best ways to combat title fraud are to meet the borrowers, request identification, independently verify who is on title to the home and ask them questions about the home, sales history, even things in the area that may help you identify if something seems a bit off!

Value fraud: in a recent publication, the Law Society of BC had an excellent example of this type of fraud that we thought it would be prudent to share.

“Value fraud in this situation, back-to-back purchases of the same property are arranged from a legitimate vendor. The first purchase is for the arranged sale price — say $300,000. Then a subsequent (fraudulent) deal (from one fraudster to another) is arranged (i.e., a “flip”) for $400,000. Both purchases are set to close on the same day. The fraudster arranges for a high-ratio mortgage on the basis of the second deal. The high-ratio mortgage funds are used to close the real estate deals, since the amount of the mortgage (95% of $400,000 = $380,000) is enough to cover the deals. The fraudsters are counting on the financial institutions not doing their full due diligence or having an on-site appraisal done of the property to verify the stated property value. Sooner or later, the balance of the mortgage funds and the fraudster disappear, leaving the bank holding a mortgage for far more than the property is worth.”

“A second value fraud occurs when a legitimate agreement of purchase and sale is entered into between a vendor and the fraudster, say for $350,000. The vendor and the fraudster then sign a one-page amendment that provides a credit of $50,000 against the purchase price (stated to be for repairs). The fraudster does not disclose this credit in obtaining high-ratio financing. The deal closes and the mortgage payments stop shortly thereafter. The fraudster disappears with the balance of the financing leaving the bank with a mortgage greater than the value of the property.”

Check out the full article here: https://www.lawsociety.bc.ca/page.cfm?cid=1347&t=Practice-Tips:-Fighting-back-against-fraud-%E2%80%94-the-risks-in-real-estate.

Here are some red flags that can help you to suss out a real estate fraudster:

  • A client is making a large property purchase with cash and cannot evidence this from the sale of another property.
  • The client has documents to confirm the property transfer but not the original purchase and sale agreement.
  • The property’s sales history is showing multiple recent purchases – each showing the value increasing.
  • The client doesn’t want to provide identification, or will, but doesn’t want you to make a copy of it.
  • The seller indicates that there was a deposit made that was not recorded on the purchase and sale agreement – with payment being made directly to the seller and not through you.
  • The client wants the transaction closed very quickly.
  • The client wants you to indicate a higher purchase price on the agreement than the actual purchase price.
  • The sale price is unreasonably greater than that of other homes in the area.
  • The title shows a history of mortgages being registered and then discharged in short time spans.

Above is just a short list of behaviours that can occur that can mean fraud. Your ears might be ringing but here come the words again: due diligence saves the day, most of the time. Think of water, forcefully flowing from the tap as your deals, now think of the spatter that escapes the stream as representing these instances when something on a deal is off. Maybe in these cases it is better to dig a little deeper and perhaps pass on a deal rather than getting caught in the middle of a fraud scheme that can not only get you in trouble, but also put your relationships with your partners at risk.

For more information about tools you can use to identify real estate fraud please visit www.geowarehouse.ca.

 

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home ownership searchIf you are sick and it is something that is not visible to the eye, like a broken bone for example, the doctor may give you an x-ray, CAT scan or even an MRI to identify the problem and fix it.

As a real estate sales professional you too can figuratively x-ray your client. While x-rays administered by doctors are usually taken after a medical issue, you can x-ray your client at any time. In fact the sooner you x-ray your client, the better.

If you haven’t yet connected the dots, when we reference x-ray we mean conducting due diligence. Performing due diligence helps you to identify if your customer or the house that they are buying has an issue – almost an illness that may or may not be visible right away.

  • House related example – a house that has a previously undischarged mortgage on title is an illness that can be cured with proof that the mortgage was discharged. An example of a terminal illness on a property may be a lien that is unresolved that consumes all equity in the home leaving no money to cover your closing.
  • Borrower related example – a customer who approaches you to list a home where it is later discovered that someone else is on title who refuses to sign – this, too, would be a major issue!

Performing a virtual x-ray to complete due diligence on file is one of the best ways to eliminate the chance of any surprises popping up on your deal later. You want to make sure you perform searches to learn:

  • Who the legal homeowners are.
  • How many mortgages are registered against the property.
  • What the sales history on the property is.
  • What comparable sales are in the neighbourhood, and more…

When is the right time to perform due diligence – we think right at the point where you engage your client. Time is money and performing due diligence at the point of engagement ensures you identify the issues from day one – and hey, it may be that something turns up on your searches that the client can resolve. Now you can bring it to their attention and they have enough time to resolve it. Also, if the deal is not going to close because of the information you discover, then at least you find that out before you have started financially investing in a listing or helping a buyer find a home.

Don’t let a deal go astray – stop problems before they become issues. Use GeoWarehouse to conduct due diligence. Check out www.geowarehouse.ca.

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Home Ownership SearchWhen representing a client, whether it is a buyer or a seller, the more information you have about a property and its owners, the better. Most real estate sales professionals will turn to a search in GeoWarehouse to get the information they need quickly. A property ownership search can be performed in GeoWarehouse by leveraging different reports and searches to obtain the information that you need.

When requesting a Property Details Report in GeoWarehouse, you will get access to not only the sales on the subject property, but also the property’s PIN (Property Identification Number). Say you want to know how much the subject property is encumbered for, what current owners paid for the home, when they purchased it, etc.  Armed with the property address and PIN, you can request a Parcel Register in the GeoWarehouse Store and instantly identify who is on title to the property, the type of ownership, when they purchased the property, what they paid for it and any mortgages or liens registered.

This can make you more efficient in so many ways:

  • You can validate that the client engaging you actually is the homeowner. What does this mean to you? It means that, if there are other people on title, they are consenting to the sale of the property and that you in fact contract all of the relevant parties.
  • You can learn of encumbrances and liens on the subject property and protect your interests and other closing costs. What does this mean to you? Incredible time savings. You can quickly identify if your deal is in fact a practical deal and address financial shortfalls before investing your valuable time and energy into representing a client.
  • You can identify any prevalent issues that could impact the deal from closing. What does this mean to you? There is nothing worse than being at the 11th hour on a closing and getting a call from the real estate lawyer advising you that there are issues on title that will prevent your deal from closing. Seeing what is on the Parcel Register will greatly mitigate this and enable you to assist your client to resolve any issues well before your closing date.

Validating property ownership can play a key role in any real estate transaction, and having this information will lead to increased efficiency and a smoother closing.

We want to hear from you. Have you ever had a deal go south on closing because of title related issues?

If you would like more information about GeoWarehouse, please visit www.geowarehouse.ca or call 1-866-237-5937.

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