Q: Recently, on TV I heard of a scam that can fraudulently sell your home without your knowledge. I assume this is done by Quitclaim Deed. Is this in fact true and how can a homeowner protect against this?
A: I, too, have heard the commercials for various paid protection services. I have seen one on television where some police officer talked about Life Lock or some other service that will protect the title to your home.
I find this to be much ado about nothing. We’ve all heard stories about somebody selling the Brooklyn Bridge or people joking that they will sell you the Golden Gate Bridge. With appropriate recognition of George Strait, he has a song about oceanfront property in Arizona he’ll sell you and throw in the Golden Gate for free.
Jokes aside, the law is very clear that a person can’t give what they don’t have. If a person fraudulently signs a deed conveying a property they don’t own, the person that gets it doesn’t get anything. You can’t get what they don’t have.
There are different types of deeds that are used for different legal purposes but that’s not the principle that comes into play here. The principle that is important to understand is that the sale of property generally carries with it a warranty that you own it. A Quitclaim Deed merely gives whatever interest you have, be that all, some, or none by virtue of the deed.
The only problem that I do see is that if that situation arose, you would have to hire a lawyer immediately and get the issue of forgery or fraud before the court. It would not be wise to wait. I know lawyers are expensive, but this issue is one that would have to be handled quickly.
One of the issues that would come up is where’s the money? If someone bought your property there would be a record of where their money came from and who it was paid to. Without a record of payment or funds and an allegation of fraud, any judge would become suspicious and protect the homeowner.
Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!