“Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.” ~Franklin D. Roosevelt
Unfortunately while New York real estate does still continue to be one of the best, and most sought after investments in the world, the above quote no longer remains true. In fact, quite the opposite has often proven to be the case over the last decade. Many Long Island homeowners have literally had their family homes yanked out from under their feet. And failing to keep up mortgage payments may actually be one of the least common reasons many have lost the roof over their family’s heads. So how are homes being stolen, and how can property owners protect themselves?
1. Title Fraud
Title fraud is on the rise. New buyers are increasingly reporting that after purchasing properties they are being contacted by scammers claiming to have ownership rights to the property. Sometimes they’ll try to demand deeds are signed over to them, they may offer to settle for a significant sum of money, or in some cases they have filed liens or other documents against the property. Long Island real estate buyers can keep themselves safe by always obtaining an owner’s title insurance policy when purchasing, as well as having a good real estate attorney on call for when these scams arise.
2. Eminent Domain
As five more Suffolk County home owners found out in July 2015; even if your property is paid off free and clear, and you have maintained it well – the government can swoop in and take it, and re-purpose it. They can clear the land to create dunes, new schools, or to allow builders to put up new buildings that will produce more property tax dollars. This didn’t happen very often when property values were sinking. Now that property values are on the rise again eminent domain seems to be spiking across America. You may not be able to stop it, but you can get good legal counsel to help fight for fair compensation.
The banks robo-signing scandal has been one of the largest fraud schemes of all time. Hundreds of thousands of property owners have had their homes sent to foreclosure or repossession due to fake documents. Despite a $25 billion mortgage settlement the banks involved appear to continue to operate with immunity to any punishment for seizing properties by fraud. Fortunately, those that are standing up and are going to court to fight are sometimes winning, and are winning substantial settlements themselves. To prevent this consider who you bank with and borrow from very carefully.
4. Forced Placed Insurance
This is another type of lender fraud that few are aware of. After claiming that homeowners’ insurance documents weren’t received lenders force place insurance with their providers attempting to increase revenues. Often to the tune of thousands of dollars extra. If borrowers don’t pay they are put into default and are foreclosed on. So never ignore these letters from mortgage lenders or servicers, and always get help.
5. Property Taxes
Long Island homeowners have lost their homes due to past due property taxes and related fees for even less than $10. And considering that almost half of all New York property tax bills are incorrect each year, this amounts to one of the largest and longest running rackets that rob owners of their properties. Never ignore letters from the tax collector, and make sure you challenge your Long Island property taxes each year in order to avoid being over billed.