Brace yourself for a new round of real estate fraud Canada.
Fraudsters have their eyes on you and your home.
Recent media reports about real estate scammers are just the opening salvo in the consumer fight against fraud.
According to Equifax, Canadians are more ready than ever.
Why It’s Important to Fight Against Fraud
You’d be surprised how often home title fraud happens in Canada. Canadians lost over $530 million to all types of fraud in 2022, the RCMP announced during fraud prevention month, March 2023. With only five to 10% of Canadians reporting when they are victimized, actual frauds are over the top. Read what RCMP say about fraud in Canada. Title fraud vs mortgage fraud — know the difference.
How Home Title Fraud Works
CBC tracked a made-in-the-GTA real estate fraud that tricked at least 30 homeowners out of their homes and equity. Vulnerable seniors and out of town, out of sight snowbirds were popular targets.
It works like this:
- Organized crime gangs illegally transfer title to a property using forged or stolen ID.
- They register the home as their own or in a straw (fake) buyer’s name.
- Your home is listed and sold privately or on the MLS, while you’re away, in hospital, or distracted as an absentee landlord.
- In 26 cases, equity in homeowners’ property was used to obtain mortgages without their knowledge. Organized crime gangs made off with the funds, leaving the real homeowners liable for mortgages they knew nothing about.
It’s not just organized crime playing with your family name. Scamsters duped a California notary public out of $1,800 by having her buy and send them prepaid Visa cards.
How to Protect Against Title Fraud in Canada
Canadians are getting an abrupt lesson on title and real estate fraud. Ninety-four per cent of surveyed Canadians took at least one step to protect their identity in 2022, Equifax reports.
Here’s how you can join the fight against fraud.
- See False Pretences for how to protect your financial interests when buying property.
- Ask your Ontario real estate lawyer to add title insurance to your real estate transaction. Call an insurance broker or title insurer directly if a property purchase omitted or predated this inexpensive, lifetime coverage.
- Block phone calls from unknown callers or hang up if you mistakenly answer.
- Check credit card statements for expenses you didn’t incur. Call your credit card provider promptly to reverse fraudulent purchases.
- Keep passwords and pins private and secure. Avoid putting passwords in one place. Create unique passwords and change passwords regularly.
- Shred mortgage, credit card, and financial documents before tossing.
- Verify your credit score to check for unauthorized activity, like imposter mortgages.
It’s in your home’s best interests to stay alert.
Reporting Real Estate Fraud in Ontario
You can report real estate fraud to police, a real estate lawyer, or the land registry office where your title to property is registered. See a list of who to contact.
Why You Need a Real Estate Lawyer
Protect title to your property. Your Axess Law real estate lawyer adds title insurance for a minimal, one-time expense when a title transfer is registered. Your title is covered for illegal transfers, but there’s more. Title insurance also prevents costly record keeping errors. See more reasons to buy title insurance.
Before you sign any agreement of purchase and sale, ask Axess Law to review it. Our licensed Ontario real estate lawyers dissect the fine print for missing clauses and terms or conditions that may impede your ability to enjoy a home or land you offer to buy. We even liaise with your builder if amendments to a new build home agreement are appropriate. What’s in the agreement of purchase and sale.
Hidden hazards not disclosed in the seller property information statement (SPIS) can create current or future liabilities. If a professional home inspection is missing from an agreement of purchase and sale, your Axess Law real estate lawyer amends it to include one. When an inspector points out deficiencies, we negotiate with the seller’s lawyer to determine who pays repairs or reduce your offer. Why how home inspection clauses are worded can cost you money.
Finding the right mortgage taking longer than expected? Your Axess Law real estate lawyer negotiates with a property seller or builder to extend the agreement of purchase and sale. If you just can’t get the financing you need, we advise you on penalties a seller may charge and how to cancel the offer to purchase.
When your financing search is successful, your Axess Law real estate lawyer discharges previous mortgages and finalizes new loan obligations. We liaise with banks, trust companies, credit unions, or private lenders to witness and sign new mortgages or refinance your home. Discharge mortgages legally.
Last-minute delays closing a real estate transaction can set your moving plans way back. Your Axess Law real estate lawyer anticipates problems that get in the way of completing a purchase or sale on time. We search for financial claims or construction liens to ensure clear title to homes or land. If your real estate lawyer finds any issue that needs your attention before a sale closes, we contact you right away. How to remove a property lien blocking your title transfer.
Title is transferred to your name at a local land registry office. We can even hand you the keys to your new build or resale home. Already own a home? Ask us about removing a name from house title in Ontario or how to transfer property title to family members in Ontario.
Access Lawyers by Secure Video Conference
Axess Law brings legal services to you in the most convenient way. Network with a virtual real estate lawyer anywhere you are from any compatible home computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile device. Your Axess Law Ontario real estate lawyer meets you online via secure, confidential video conferencing software.
Affordable Real Estate Lawyers, Anywhere You Are
Access lawyers for less in the Greater Toronto Area, Ottawa, or anywhere in Ontario when you buy, sell, or transfer property. Axess Law’s flat fee real estate lawyers are affordable, and our rates are all inclusive (excluding taxes, disbursements, and third-party charges). Axess Law offers you only the legal services you absolutely need. Your final invoice includes no surprises or hidden charges. Your itemized statement of adjustments is explained when we deliver it, and we answer any questions you have about it.
Book Ontario Real Estate Lawyers
Make legal appointments with ease with our online web form. To speak to an operator, dial us toll free at 1-877-402-4277 or in the Greater Toronto Area, call our 647-479-0118 lawyer line. Go virtual anywhere you are or meet in person with an Axess Law real estate lawyer at any of our conveniently located Greater Toronto Area or Ottawa law offices.
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Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s real estate law services.