Question: I’m gearing up to sell my home and I’ve worked hard to pay down my mortgage. I’m worried about something terrible happening to my proceeds. I will need the money to purchase a condo for my retirement. How can I protect myself?
Answer: Being cautious is the right approach. Financial crime and fraud is a very real problem in the real estate industry. Counterfeit cashiers checks and fake deeds are used by criminals to steal your money. Fortunately, even with these industry problems most closings take place without a problem.
Here are some tips picked up from over thousands of closings. This is not meant to be an all inclusive list, but rather supplement the conventional wisdom.
Once you choose your title and escrow company you should verify their license and underwriter. Browse over to the state insurance website where you will find a link to check this. Once you’ve verified the license, confirm their number and address on the web independently and not directly off of their website. If you live locally you could drive over and introduce yourself to the company.
Most fraud involves the fraudster hijacking or spoofing someone’s email address and sending fake wiring instructions. Face to face is the safest way. Since this is not always possible, a phone call can be made using the verified number to verify what was sent to you. Email is a great tool, but it has made people shy away from phone calls and face to face interaction. Getting to know the people involved in your transaction make it easier to tell if something seems suspicious later.
The most effective way to prevent becoming a victim is to really listen to your gut. Be aware of things that seem strange. An example of this is that it is highly unlikely that your title company will switch bank accounts during the several weeks it takes to close your deal. If you are asked to send the money to a different account you should be extremely suspicious.
Thieves take advantage of the fact that you only sell our buy a home occasionally and are not that familiar with the process.
Source: The Sun Sentinel – Read Full Article Here
Kara L. Stachel, Esq. is an experienced Fort Lauderdale real estate attorney. Ms. Stachel is admitted to the Florida Bar and the New Jersey Bar, and is a member of the Florida Bar Journal’s Editorial Board, American Bar Association, Commercial Real Estate Women Network, and Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar.
Stachel Law’s real estate clients include lenders, brokers, investors, consumers, sellers, and real estate agents, all of whom are counseled and represented throughout every step of a legal matter. The firm provides clients with extensive experience in complex real estate transactions and litigation.