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Can someone really steal my house?

Toronto’s housing market is definitely a hot topic. Normally for the record breaking price sales, our lack of inventory which drives up demand, multiple offers and a constant buzz about when, if ever, there will be a real estate crash.

In January of this year, the housing market was making headlines for another reason:

Homes being sold without the owner's knowledge and consent. Basically, right out from under them.

Here are some articles from CBC that go through all the details.

In some cases, the fraud includes and is orchestrated by a whole ring of dirty people, and all parties, from the mortgage broker to the agents to the lawyers are in on it.

In other cases, many oversights were made.

The law firm that often consults and speaks to our office, has said that within the law community, many new protocols are being implemented as a result of these frauds, to protect homeowners moving forward.

The wheel of fraud can happen in many different ways, and to both homeowners and landlords. (so from a resale and rental perspective)

  1. Identity theft

  2. Fake documents

  3. Straw buyers (people that are coerced into purchasing properties on behalf of the criminal networks)

I know personally, that I have seen a huge increase in the number of ‘fake’ tenants looking to rent my clients properties. There are even companies that will help produce all the fake documentation you need to apply for a tenancy. Trust me when I say it’s sneaky, alarmingly convincing and generally can just make you sick to your stomach.

So what can you do?

  1. Make sure your agent really knows what they are doing. Ask them how they have been taking precautions since those episodes in January. If they have no idea or can’t answer, it might be worth interviewing someone else. As I mentioned, it was a hot topic in our office meetings for a few months and we told about ways that we can additionally check identities and official home ownership

  2. Double check things - a 2nd set of eyes on documents, asking questions etc. can be extremely helpful these days

  3. Check with your real estate lawyer about title insurance.

For other tips and ways you can protect yourself, send me an email and I would be happy to send you my Fraud Tip Sheet.


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