In recent years paid advertising spokespersons — including some who should know better — have relentlessly sounded an alarm about “title theft”: the concept that someone could “steal” real property by simply forging the owner’s name on a deed, then “drain the equity” in the property by defrauding a mortgage lender into loaning money against the house, and thus force the actual owner to repay the loan or lose the home through foreclosure. They claim that it’s one of the fastest growing “crimes,” and they insist that only the products they’re peddling (not title insurance) can protect you from it.
But what your first-year real-estate law professor taught you was true: A forgery conveys no title, whether it be a fee or mortgage interest. And the “title lock” services that were offered to combat “title theft” were often little more than a notification that a forgery (the real crime) might have occurred. They didn’t cover the legal expenses to clear or untangle the title.
Forgers, unfortunately, will be with us forever. But this presentation will address the actual problems that a forgery creates, debunk they myths perpetuated by the advertisements, and address how property owners can protect themselves now — including though a form of title insurance that was not generally available when the “title theft” advertisements first aired — against the crime of deed and mortgage forgery.
Recorded at the Real Estate Institute in December 2022.