Get Free Alerts if Someone Messes With Your Deed
First American Core Logic, a company that sells lien-monitoring services and automated appraisal information to lenders, is now offering similar services to homeowners at no charge.
Their ePropertyWatch Monitoring Service allows users to set up a password-protected account and receive e-mail updates reporting recent home sales, foreclosures and, most important, the registration of any changes to public records reflecting your ownership of the home. Such changes could include liens or deed transfers filed without you knowing about it.
The records-alert service could be useful. You could get a mechanic's lien filed by an unpaid contractor, by a taxing authority, by your lender, by someone making a mistake--or by someone with malevolent intent. According to the FBI, there is a type of identity theft called "house stealing" in which scam artists create fake IDs with your information and use the documents to fraudulently change the deed records on file with your local government.
The service also gives you periodic value estimates--the same type of info they sell to lenders and appraisers. Appraisers are supposed to use such automated value estimates only as a starting point in arriving at their own numbers. But it would be good to know the automated price estimate that will flash on the lender's computer screen when you apply for a refinance; it could save you a loan application fee and wasted time.
I logged into the service and noticed two drawbacks. First, it was distressingly easy to claim my own address and have e-mail notices sent to me. The information I had to supply just didn't seem very difficult for a stranger to find. (That alone may be reason for you to log in and claim your home pronto.) Second, by logging in, you agree that FirstAmerican CoreLogic can phone you with sales pitches, even if you are on the government's Do-Not-Call list. I'll let you know if I get flooded with dinnertime phone calls.
October 15, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Foreclosure , Mortgages , Neighborhoods , Selling , Statistics , The economy , The market
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