Vacant land sale scams are becoming increasingly prevalent, and it’s crucial for both homebuyers and real estate professionals to stay informed and protected. At Colorado Title & Closing Services, we are dedicated to ensuring the security of your transactions, and we want to share some essential insights with you.
Here’s a brief overview of how these scams work:
- Identifying vulnerable properties: Fraudsters scour public records for real estate without mortgages, liens, or clear ownership, often targeting vacant lots or rental properties.
- Impersonating property owners: Criminals pose as legitimate owners and approach real estate agents to list the property for sale. They deliberately set the price below market value to generate immediate interest.
- Deceptive tactics: Scammers prefer cash transactions, rush the sale process, refuse in-person meetings to sign closing documents and employ falsified paperwork submitted to the title company or closing attorney.
- The final blow: The fraudster receives the closing proceeds via wire transfer, leaving unsuspecting buyers without a good title and the title insurance company at a significant loss. The real owner may not discover the fraud for a year or more.
Recognize the red flags:
- Communication with the Seller solely via email or text, not by phone or in person
- Excessive pressure for a quick sale
- Insistence on wired proceeds
- Request to use their own notary
- Seller wants closing package emailed rather than overnighted
- Seller has a different address than the owner’s tax mailing address
- Vacant land for sale or sold below market value
- No outstanding mortgage or liens on the property
By recognizing these warning signs, you can help prevent fraud. You are the first line of defense. If you are asked to list vacant land via email or text, be suspicious. The true test, if the Seller is legit, is if they will accept an escrow check from the closing company rather than a wire. Additionally, partnering with a trusted closing and title team is crucial. Colorado Title is dedicated to prioritizing client protection and ensuring secure closings.
Take the first step towards a secure listing by visiting this ALTA flier on Seller Impersonation Fraud. Our expertise and dedication can provide peace of mind throughout your real estate journey. Together we can prevent vacant land fraud!