Real estate fraud costs the industry more and more each year. A recent article in the Globe and Mail revealed that Equifax found that the number of mortgage applications flagged as potentially fraudulent has risen 52% since 2013 in Canada – that’s a major concern for all real estate sales professionals.
Typically, you, as the real estate sales professional, are the first professional in a chain of professionals who work on a real estate transaction to encounter a fraudster. This places you in a position to save yourself and the professionals you work with a significant amount of time and potential financial damages by identifying when something nefarious is taking place on a deal.
A property’s sales history is one way to quickly identify real estate fraud. Here are some tips on how you can use the property’s sales history to identify fraud:
- Has the property changed hands several times in a short period of time?
- Is the previous owner a corporation or have a series of previous owners been corporations?
- Are strange entities on title, such as a mortgage holder?
- Are the sales prices on property transfers strange and not consistent with similar properties in the area?
These are all things that the mortgage lender will likely look at. They are fraud indicators and could impact mortgage financing after you have done all the work to get the property sold and to negotiate the offer and acceptance. These are also things that mean the time may be right to ask further questions and start digging deeper.
How about identity theft? A fraudster may be able to obtain identification in someone else’s name – but will they likely know information about a property’s sales history that only a homeowner would know? Maybe not. Asking questions in this regard can be quite revealing.
When strange things come up on a property’s sales history, does it always mean that fraud is taking place. Often no, and many incidences can be explained with a little more research. However, sometimes those things that seem problematic, are. This is your signal to ask your client or the other real estate sales professional further questions and perform further due diligence. When no fraud is present, key questions will have been answered so you can package a stronger deal. If real estate fraud has taken place, your questions and increased due diligence will hopefully result in the fraudster running for the hills, leaving you and your colleagues and clients out of harm’s way.
The tools available from the NEW GeoWarehouse make identifying fraudulent activity using the property’s sales history easy. Find out more today by visiting www.geowarehouse.ca or calling 1-416-360-7542.