Earlier this week, more homes were stolen in Philadelphia. Four men have been arrested, accused of forging 22 deeds. Although the homes appear abandoned, they belonged to someone. These men allegedly forged the signature of the original homeowner and transfered the properties to themselves or someone they knew. They forged the name of a notary republic and used a phony notary republic stamp. The properties were "flipped," sold to unsuspecting buyers. The four men have been charged with criminal conspiracy, theft, forgery, and tampering with public records.
What should a buyer in the market for a home check for:
- The license--make sure the real estate broker/realtor has a license. Every American state requires realtors to have a state license. The Pennsylvania Real Estate License Lookup says all you need is their name or the business' name and they will verify. Verifying their name is extremely important, it can prevent you from being scammed.
- Verify the deed--Go to your local records department and check the name on the deed. The Document Notice Program notifies all homeowners of changes made to their deeds. If the property is being sold by someone other than the "real" homeowner, the homeowner should take legal action to stop the sale.
- Unsure if the person representing the property is the real owner, even though they may have identification matching the name on the deed? The most legal form of identification widely recognized is the driver's license or state issued identification. Don't be afraid to ask them to prove who they are, do they not ask you? Ask to see their driver's license, write down or memorize their driver's license number, then go to Pennsylvania's Department of State webpage. Type in the driver's license number.You should be able to confirm their name and address.
- If your gut is telling you something is not quite right, you can check the validity of the notary republic. The notary republic varifies that all parties are legit. He will be there in the preliminary stages to verify who you are to the realtor. You want to be careful of who you give your information to. Pennsylvania's Department of State regulates all notary republics and verify their existence.