Protecting a Sanibel Home from Deed Fraud

Protecting a Sanibel Home from Deed FraudDeed fraud also known as title theft has been on the rise in the last few years. It involves forging documents and recording a phony but convincing transfer of property ownership. This allows the criminal to sell the home or take out a mortgage on the property. They can also rent out properties that are unoccupied by an owner and make a hefty profit. 

Several large cases of deed fraud have recently been uncovered across the country. A very large case was recently discovered in Detroit where a woman working with a non-profit who was credentialed as a real estate agent and a notary public "stole" over 30 properties while claiming to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.  

A prosecutor in the district attorney's office of Los Angeles recently shared that crooks are easily forging documents as things have moved online. Noting that is it much easier than it was 25 years ago when things were done in person. Looking at the FBI's 2023 Internet Crime Report there are around 9,521 cyber-related real estate and rental fraud complaints for all types of real estate fraud occurring online. 

Preventing Deed Fraud in Sanibel

There are now several services both paid and free (depending upon where you live) that offer monitoring of deed filing for homes. Title monitoring alerts a homeowner but only after a fraudulent title is recorded. When a title that is fraudulent is filed a homeowner needs to file a lawsuit to establish they are the true homeowner. This can require a lot of time and money including hiring a real estate lawyer. But there is one way to prevent title fraud on your home.

The only way to prevent a fraudulent title from being recorded and ending up in a court battle to keep ownership of your home is to take out a Homeowner's Policy of Title Insurance. Do not confuse it with the Owners Policy of Title Insurance. Almost every large title insurance company offers this type of protection. This protects a homeowner from having to go to court, rather it puts the responsibility on the insurance company to go to court on the homeowner's behalf to fight for retaining legal ownership of their home. 

In short, there is no actual way to cut off a fraudulent claim from being recorded on your home. Not yet anyway. But there is a way to protect yourself as a homeowner from having to fight a lengthy court battle and use large sums of your own money. This includes making sure you have title insurance and that that coverage includes protection in case a fraudulent title should be filed on your property. Homeowners need to make sure their policy says something along the lines of " in the case that another person claims to have rights to the property title because of forgery or impersonation." 

Homeowners should be careful of anything they sign especially if they are seeking help from others to prevent foreclosure and other financial difficulties involving homeownership. It is also in a homeowner's best interest to make sure they are active or have active property management of properties they own as second or investment properties. Homes that are not occupied are currently prime targets for fraudulent practices. Making sure someone trustworthy is at the property frequently is a key way to avoid anything nefarious.

 Making sure you are aware of who you are conducting business with and that you are a diligent and studious caretaker of your home will help to keep people from preying on a vulnerable situation. 

If you are looking to buy or sell a home on Sanibel Island, I am here to help. Contact me any time for any Sanibel real estate needs including buying and selling of primary, vacation, and investment homes on both Sanibel and Captiva Islands. 

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