Do you need Title Lock protection for your home? A local real estate guru says he can think of no reason why anyone would.
In his 17 years in real estate, Associate Executive for First American Title Kyle Snyder has only seen one case of title fraud and it was in Longmont.
According to Snyder, a Longmont resident who owned several rental properties died. Without children, the man’s estate was handled by a third party.
During the process of settling the man’s estate, two of his tenants filed quick claim deeds to his properties and tried to sell them, Snyder said.
Within weeks, the executor of the estate discovered the situation and took the case to court. According to Snyder, it took only a few months to resolve the issue. The judge looked at the documents provided by the tenants and immediately saw they were fraudulent. He dismissed the case and cleared titles on all the properties, Snyder said.
This is how all cases involving title fraud have been handled, Snyder stated.
If you have watched TV or listened to the radio, you have likely heard the frightening words of Title Lock commercials stating that you could be at risk of losing your home.
For only a few dollars each month, Title Lock states it will monitor a customer’s title for any records filed on it. Nowhere do these companies offer to prevent your title from succumbing to fraud.
“Anybody can record anything against anybody’s property and it can be fraudulent. It happens quite often but it never goes anywhere because it’s clear that it is fraudulent,” Snyder said.
While anyone can put a lien on a property, the person recording the lien is responsible for proving their lien is legitimate, Snyder said.
According to Snyder, if a person did file a lien against a homeowner’s deed, that person would have to knock on the homeowner's door and tell them to leave, Snyder said.
“That isn’t going to go well,” Snyder stated. “They can’t just throw me out of my house onto the street.”
That person would have to go to court to get an eviction notice, giving the homeowner the ability to defend themselves in front of a judge, Snyder said. This is the moment when most fraudulent title claims fail, Snyder said.
In order for your home to be sold, the owner must sign the deed. Without a proper signature, the sale cannot stand, Snyder said. Also, the person with the false claim has to prove they paid you for the house.
“I think the whole idea of this thing is to create fear that this can happen … but it would be really difficult to get somebody out of their house,” Snyder said. “It’s just not realistic that somebody is going to do it,” Snyder said, referring to getting away with title fraud and stealing someone’s home.
The Title Lock companies claim that homeowners, seniors, those with high equity, a free and clear title, multiple properties, those with aging parents and industry professionals are at risk for title fraud.
Snyder said that even if a person with memory problems is approached at their door, asked to leave and then leaves, they are no more at risk of losing their home. It is likely that person will tell someone else what happened and the aforementioned process would begin.
Title Lock is not a type of insurance, Snyder said. “In case something does happen … you probably still have to pay to get it resolved through an attorney … You’re in the same position if you didn’t know (about the record against your home).”
“Nobody needs this … it is unnecessary for anybody to sign up for it,” Snyder said.
So is there anything homeowners can do to?
Snyder says there is. Home titles are public records and are accessible by anyone either through the internet or by visiting their county clerk’s office. Homeowners can monitor their own deeds.
“If you look at your deed, you will see you have access to county records and your deed. It might take you five minutes to find it,” Snyder said.
The state of Colorado offers a similar service to Title Lock for free. The service is called FraudSleuith. According to the website, the basic program will notify homeowners of any new records but not of historic records on the property.
“There are other types of fraud that are way more likely to happen,” Snyder said.