Zoomers and real estate fraud

Oct 29th, 2015 | By FCT

FCT educates and helps to protect existing homeowners aged 45+
at this year’s ZoomerShow

Ahhh, retirement: the so-called “golden years” when we embrace a slightly slower pace and strive to live each day to the fullest. Retirement, whether it comes at the traditional age of 65, at an early 45 or much later in life, is a time when most of us look forward to pursuing interests and hobbies, as well as spending time with family and friends. It is the dream that gets many of us through the years of clock punching, commuting and piled-on responsibility.

But sadly the new reality for Boomers/Zoomers is that retirement now brings with it the added risk of real estate fraud.

Boomers and Zoomers are more susceptible to real estate fraud

Many retirees have worked a large portion of their adult lives to pay off their homes and fulfil their dream of being mortgage free. However, this accomplishment now presents a new set of challenges. Owning your home free and clear of a mortgage makes it very attractive to fraudsters: that growing group of unsavory individuals preying on retirees for their own criminal gain. As a result, the “dream” of retirement has become more of a nightmare for some, accounting for between $400 million and $1.5 billion in real estate damages annually.

In a previous post on The FCT Blog, we explore the different kinds of real estate fraud, which you may find interesting. Knowing the signs is your best line of defence.

But what makes real estate fraud all the more tragic is that of all fraudulent claims received by FCT every year, about one third are committed by someone the victim knows — usually a family member, caregiver or renter. Plus if you’re widow that lives alone or a Snowbird that is away for extended periods of time, you tend to be at an even higher risk. The same is also true for those with diminished mental capacity, who are sadly, more vulnerable than most. A great “EVERYTHINGZOOMER.COM” article that explores this topic more in depth is called, Seniors More Vulnerable to Mortgage Fraud and is worth a read.

A cautionary Snowbird tale

A retired homeowner named Joseph* left for his annual trip to Florida to ride out in the winter under sunnier skies. His home was left vacant. Only a select few friends and acquaintances knew of his plans, including this lawyer and a realtor that was familiar with the family. Sadly, both unscrupulous, the lawyer and the realtor saw the opportunity presented by Joseph’s absence and took it. Together they colluded to transfer the title to Joseph’s property to themselves and obtain a large loan for the entire value of the home. They then discharged the mortgage fraudulently and sold the property to a new family who had no knowledge of the crime they were now a part of.

Joseph returned in the spring to find a new family living in his home — he’d lost the largest investment he owned and worked for decades to pay off. Joseph was now experiencing homelessness and in dire financial straits. Luckily his title insurance policy helped to rectify the situation and got him back on title and paid the legal fees involved in defending his claim. But most importantly, his coverage helped get him back into his home. The new homeowners that hadn’t purchased a homeowner policy, weren’t so lucky . . . .

* Some details have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

Make sure you’re protected

Fraud can happen to anyone, at any time. However, if you are a target, having the right protection in place can help minimize the impact, not to mention the stress and financial consequences.

Look for us at booth 513 in the lifestyle section at this year’s ZoomerShow, October 31 and November 1 taking place at the Enercare Centre in Toronto. FCT staff will be on hand to answer all your questions about how you can protect your existing home, both now and well into retirement. Plus you can even purchase your own title insurance right on site and leave the show knowing your biggest asset is well protected. Hope to see you there!

Are you a Zoomer with a title insurance question but can’t make it to the ZoomerShow? Use the comment section below to learn more.

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