News & Information: ORRA BrokerWise

Beware the unscrupulous title conveyance

Monday, September 24, 2012  
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By Dana Ward

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of real estate scams in this challenging market. In greater Orlando alone we have witnessed creative con artists filing "wild deeds” claiming title to property they do not own, crooks breaking into vacant foreclosures then renting them out, and imposters posing as REALTORS® affiliated with property management companies! I’ve even heard of a gentleman impersonating his dead mother at "her” real estate closing, complete with lipstick, manicured nails, and an oxygen tank.

There is no end to the creativity employed to launch a real estate scam or fraud. Here are some proven best practices and red flags that REALTORS® can use to recognize unscrupulous title and real estate conveyances:

  • Know who you are dealing with and require photo identification from everyone involved in the ownership of the property.

  • Be wary of the inability to speak directly with parties in your transaction or requests NOT to contact others in the transaction.

  • Investigate further if you learn the current owner recently acquired their interest by a quitclaim deed or a deed from a family member.

  • Be suspicious of any document lacking the "prepared by” stamp of an industry professional and of a property that has an unusual number of conveyances or mortgage assignments within a short period of time.

  • Align yourself with a reputable and trustworthy title and closing team that can assist you in evaluating ownership and chain of title issues.

  • Be suspicious of any unsolicited new clients with multiple transaction proposals, especially if only dealing via e-mail or text.

  • Refuse to move quickly on a transaction where you are being pressured to close before you can adequately prepare and research the property.

  • Trust your gut when it’s telling you that something is not right.

Regardless of the market, there will always be unscrupulous characters out there trying to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers and REALTORS®. Don’t let that be you. Keep your guard up, ask questions, do your research, align yourself with industry professionals, and ask for help when your instincts are warning you!

Dana Ward, Real Estate Closing Solutions, is an ORRA affiliate member and can be reached at

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