You may hear this all the time: owning a home is one of the biggest investments that people make. When buyers are ready to purchase a property, there is always a risk of fraud occurring during the transaction. Indeed, many people pose as owners of a home in an attempt to trick buyers out of their money. What happens is that an unscrupulous person pretends to be the owner of a property and disappears after the transaction is completed (and after funds are transferred).
Cases of property fraud are not new, which is why buyers and sellers of properties are encouraged to have a property conveyancing lawyer by their side. Conveyancers ensure that all the legal paperwork involving a property transfer is correctly done.
But if you own a property, how can you prevent people from falsely pretending to be you? Here are several risk factors that may indicate that your home is likely to be used during a fraudulent transaction and how to avoid these risks.
1. Rented properties
Renting out your home is a clever way of receiving a reliable income for your investment. If you can handle the responsibility of being a landlord, you can enjoy regular rental income and even ease the burden of a mortgage. However, rented properties may be susceptible to fraudulent transactions. Unscrupulous tenants may falsely pose as homeowners, or other people nearby may attempt the same when the home is empty for a certain period of time.
Fraudulent transactions reflect negatively on the owner of the property, and you may have to undergo lengthy legal proceedings to prove your innocence. To avoid these risks, make sure your property is duly registered as a rental with municipal authorities. You should also thoroughly screen all tenants before allowing them to rent your home.
2. Homes that are not under mortgage
If you've fully paid for your home, the property may also be at risk of fraudulent transactions. Homes that are under mortgage are typically registered with up-to-date contact information from the mortgage lender. However, owners of mortgage-free homes may simply assume that all paperwork is up to date and correct.
Avoid this risk by double checking that your home is dully registered under your name, and keep all ownership records up to date.
3. Unoccupied homes
If you own a property that you don't live in, you may find yourself entangled in fraud cases. Empty homes are prime targets for fraudsters to pose as the homeowner and defraud innocent buyers.
Avoid this negative reputation by keeping all your contact information up to date with local municipalities. In this way, you will likely be contacted in the event that someone attempts to sell your home.