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Remote work and RE: Detecting, preventing fraud in a digital environment | RENX – Real Estate News EXchange



At the outset of the pandemic, workforces across the country were required to transition to remote work with very little time to prepare.

While most businesses recognized the importance of digital transformation prior to the pandemic, the need to adapt to the technology solutions available – and in some cases develop new solutions – was significantly expedited by the circumstances presented by COVID-19.

While this evolution brings many benefits, it also perpetuates the fears that online processes could create more opportunities for fraudsters. In the real estate industry, the primary concern has been whether the new virtual nature of deals would introduce additional risk or new avenues for fraud.

There is no strong evidence, as of yet, to indicate that fraud has increased within the industry due to the pandemic and the increased use of digital solutions.

However, for the foreseeable future it is vitally important for real estate professionals and lenders to take the necessary steps to prevent and mitigate against the potential for fraud in this virtual environment.

In recognition of Fraud Prevention Month, we’ve provided an overview of some types of fraud and what to watch for to help stakeholders take the right steps to protect themselves and others involved throughout the real estate transaction.

Types of fraud

In order to understand how to prevent fraud, it’s important to first understand the most common types of fraud perpetrated on the real estate industry in Canada. These include:

  1. Title fraud: Occurs when the ownership or title of a property is fraudulently transferred, or documents are forged to allow a fraudster to illegally sell or refinance the property.
  2. Mortgage fraud: Occurs when an individual intentionally provides inaccurate, fraudulent or incomplete information to a lender in order to secure a mortgage for which they might not otherwise qualify.
  3. Value fraud: Occurs when a lender is led to believe a property is of higher value than it really is through concealment or intentional misrepresentation of the property’s attributes and value.
  4. Wire fraud: Occurs when a fraudster is monitoring a particular transaction and shortly before closing hacks into the email chain and amends wiring instructions for funds.

Preventing fraud

Perhaps more important than understanding different types of fraud is taking the precautions to prevent them. The below recommendations will help real estate professionals detect some of the common red flags involved in a real estate transaction.

First, always insist that the balance of the proceeds is payable to the registered owners after payment of secured creditors, and not to third parties. If the borrower owes money to a third party that does not appear to be related to the transaction, suggest they deposit the balance of the proceeds into their bank account and make payments from there.

Second, take all possible precautions to verify identity. Most fraudsters go to solicitors who don’t know them and try to rush the transaction in hopes that red flags may go unnoticed. Be sure to review the identity, age and income of clients,  as well as the addresses on the application, including whether or not the buyer currently resides at the property they are purchasing.

Lastly, be sure to question transactions being signed under power of attorney. Forged powers of attorney can be used by a fraudster claiming to represent the owner of a property, so it’s important to review the power of attorney very carefully.

Consider title insurance

A title insurance policy protects residential and commercial property owners and their lenders against loss resulting from fraud within the transaction as well as some coverage for future fraudulent events. Differences exist between the residential and commercial coverages, particularly with respect to fraud that occurs in the future.

Title insurance companies are there to act as a second set of eyes and help to prevent fraudulent transactions by ensuring any red flags are raised and investigated by experienced and highly skilled underwriters. 

Due to the vast volume of transactions they are involved in, some title insurance companies can provide the most up-to-date source of information on new methods of fraud attempts. And at a time when more and more real estate professionals are relying on digitization and virtual closings, it’s good to have that experience and expertise in your corner.

Remaining vigilant

Real estate professionals and all stakeholders involved in a real estate transaction must do their due diligence to protect against fraudsters.

While digital processes and virtual solutions are becoming more advanced, professionals must remember that the sophistication of fraudsters is increasing as well. Underestimating their capacity to evolve and be creative could be debilitating for both their business and their clients.

At FCT, we take fraud very seriously and strive to both detect it and prevent it. We can also provide coverage for owners and lenders if it occurs. We’re invested in doing our part to help alleviate some of the worries that come from these uncertain times and encourage all real estate professionals to remain vigilant.

The more we work together as an industry, the higher the likelihood we can prevent and mitigate fraud.

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Canadian home sales, prices surge to new record in March



OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canadian home sales rose 5.2% in March from February, setting a new all-time record amid strong demand in markets across the country, the Canadian Real Estate Association said on Thursday.

The industry group said actual sales, not seasonally adjusted, rose 76.2% from a year earlier, while the group’s Home Price Index was up 20.1% from last March and up 3.1% from February.

The actual national average selling price hit a new record at C$716,828 ($572,821) in March, up 31.6% from a year earlier and rising 5.7% from February.

($1 = 1.2514 Canadian dollars)


(Reporting by Julie Gordon in Ottawa)

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Hot real estate market sparks warnings to potential buyers as complaints to regulator double



As home sales in the province continue on a dizzying trajectory, the province’s real estate watchdog and regulator are warning buyers to be wary of what they may be getting into.

The Real Estate Council of B.C. (RECBC) and the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate said that in the first three months of 2021, they have seen an increase in inquiries and complaints.

Calls to the regulator were up 42 per cent over the previous year, while complaints, such as how offers were made and accepted, were double the number received in the same period in 2020.

“Buying a home is one of life’s biggest financial decisions. There are potential risks at the best of times, but with the added pressure and stress of the current market conditions, those risks are amplified,” Micheal Noseworthy, superintendent of real estate, said in a statement.



The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver says sales in the region have continued at a record-setting pace.

Residential home sales covered by the board totalled 5,708 in March 2021, up 126.1 per cent from March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and up 53.2 per cent from February of this year.

Rural and suburban areas have experienced the biggest spikes.

For the past two weeks, Jay Park has been in the middle of the buying frenzy.

He and his partner are trying to upgrade from their one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom condo or townhouse in Vancouver.

“I wish we had done this a month or two ago,” he said.


A condo tower under construction is pictured in downtown Vancouver in February 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)


Park put an offer on a $1-million condo, $4,000 above asking price.

“To entice the [seller], we put in a subject-free offer, but it wasn’t successful,” he said. “They accepted $110,000 over asking price that was also subject-free.”

The hot market has led to bidding wars. Some would-be buyers have even lined up outside for days to try to get a jump on a property.

Erin Seeley, the CEO of the council, is warning buyers to do their research and be aware of risks before making an offer.

“It’s really important that buyers have engaged with their lender before they’re making offers so they know how to stay within a reasonable budget,” she said.

Seeley said some of the complaints the council has heard from buyers is that they weren’t aware the seller has a right to take an early offer.

“And the seller was really in the driver’s seat about setting the pricing,” she said.


Demand continues to outstrip supply for housing in cities like Vancouver. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)


Aaron Jasper, a Vancouver realtor, advises clients to avoid cash offers and to include finance clauses even if it may mean they lose a deal.

“There’s a lot of frustration among buyers, feeling pressure to take some risk,” he said.

“You’re better to be delayed perhaps a year getting into the market as opposed to being completely financially ruined.”

Jasper also says realtors are limited in the advice they can give to clients on legal matters, home inspections, potential deficiencies with homes, and financing.

‘Caught up in the craziness’

Other tips from the council include seeking professional advice before making a subject-free offer or proceeding without a home inspection, and speaking to a professional to determine how market conditions may be affecting prices.

Meantime, people like Jay Park say they are still keen to buy. Park has more viewings scheduled and is optimistic.

“It’s a very exciting time for us, but I also don’t want to get caught up in the craziness and make a purchase that’s above our means.”

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Black Press Media introduces one of Western Canada’s best real estate platforms helping home buyers Find. Love. Live. that new home



Need an agent who knows the community?

Or, is it time to look for a new place to live, but you don’t know what’s on the market?

Whatever the real estate need is for residents in the communities of British Columbia, Yukon & Alberta, there’s a new way to do that one-stop shopping – by visiting Today’s Home.

The slogan for the site is “Find. Love. Live.”

“We want people to find their dream home, love it, and live in it,” said group publisher Lisa Farquharson.

Building on the success of Black Press Media’s niche digital platforms – Today’s Home brings the same wealth of knowledge and local expertise to the search for a home, be it buying, selling, or even just daydreaming about what changes you can make in the future.

Search hundreds of listings that local real estate agents have available.

The listings cover properties around the region, from a one-bedroom, one-bath condo for $339,900 to million-dollar acreages throughout the province of BC, Yukon, Central Alberta and beyond.

Click on a listing, and see not only the realtor handling the property sale, but links to his or her other listings and social media feeds. With the click of a mouse, take a virtual tour of the property, find the property’s walking score, and learn about nearby amenities.

There are links available to schedule a showing, or send the agent a comment or question.

Want to share a listing? When you click on the share button, you’ll actually send an attractive digital flyer of the prospective property, not just a link.

There’s even a button to help determine how much you have to spend, courtesy of the convenient mortgage calculator.

Plus, scroll down the page on Today’s Home and find a list of expert local real estate professionals who can answer questions or help with that home sale, Farquharson explained.

Today’s Home offers the advantage of the massive reach that Black Press Media has built throughout Western Canada with its network of community newspapers and online products. That allows the public to tailor real estate searches based on location, price, and other key factors while allowing real estate professionals to gain unprecedented audience reach with their listings.

Today’s Home will dovetail into the media company’s existing print real estate publications.

“Black Press Media has real estate solutions in print and now we can add in the digital component,” Farquharson said.

Watch for expansion of the Today’s Home platform in the near future, she added. That will come as Black Press Media adds a new component – the development community. Developers will be able to reach a huge audience when their projects are ready for presentation.

For information on Today’s Home, contact group publisher Lisa Farquharson at 604-994-1020 or via email.

Happy house hunting!

Source: – Aldergrove Star

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