Judy F. Berman explains why a new real-estate law against fraud is necessary and how owners can protect themselves.
The Graduate Economic Student Association recently launched DirectCongress.org, a website created to allow people to make and vote on laws.
Judy F. Berman, is a managing attorney for the Regional Housing Legal Services, a nonprofit law firm with expertise in affordable and sustainable housing. Berman said she would like to see a real estate law created in light of fraudulent real estate sales.
“I’m a part of a working group called the Fraudulent Conveyance Working Group,” Berkman said. “In Philadelphia people oftentimes buy houses for cash and the people they buy the houses from are not the owners, [which] we call fraudulent conveyance.”
Berman said that if someone were to buy a house and learns later that the seller wasn’t actually the owner, the seller has committed fraud.
“We’ve created a new term, a ‘fraudulator,’” Berman said. “Sometimes the fradulator steals the house from the owner, who might be in the hospital, or deceased. Sometimes they will forge the name, [or] sometimes they trick the owner into signing it over and then they sell it to the people who are living in the house.”
Consequently, the people currently living in the house may spend a lot of time fixing and rebuilding their new home, only to find the original owners returning and wanting their home back because of a signed deed they possess.
Berman describes the issue as “unfair” because the current residents have already spent a large sum of money rebuilding their home.
“So what I would like to propose as a solution to this [issue] is twofold. More education [is needed],” Berkman said. “My proposal would be to have a law that says on every deed that title insurance can be purchased.”
Berman added that if a person purchases title insurance, some companies will research the title of the home and verify the owners as well as ensure that a sale is conducted properly.
Dominique Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.