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Ohio REALTORS Protect Homeowners From Fraud

By HOM Editor
May 2017

If you own a home in Ohio you may have received an official looking letter regarding the deed on your house. Solicitation letters have been sent out to multiple Ohio residences stating that homeowners needed to have a copy of their property deed in-hand, should they ever wish to sell their home in the future. The letters also say that a third party could obtain the deed on the homeowner’s behalf, requesting upwards of $100 for the service.

Sounds like a nice offer. An easy way for homeowners to take care of an item on their to-do list. However, the letters were sent by third parties with less than stellar intent. The truth is homeowners don’t need to have a copy of their deed for property transfers. But if they wish to, the deed can be easily and cheaply obtained through their County Recorder’s office. Getting a copy of a house deed in Ohio is a simple process and in many cases costs less than a dollar to do so.

The originators of these letters took advantage of homeowners by misleading them and then charging an excessive and unnecessary deed retrieval fee. Unfortunately, in many cases, homeowners did not register a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. Either because they were unaware they had been defrauded or unsure of how to register a complaint.

When the Ohio Association of REALTORS® (OAR) learned that homeowners were being taken advantage of they were immediately concerned. OAR offered their support to Representative Jeffery S. Rezabek who was sponsoring House Bill 52, legislation that was created to end unscrupulous deed solicitations.

Rezebek’s bill proposed to regulate the solicitation of certain deeds in Ohio. Specifically, Bill 52 imposed content guidelines that would prevent third parties from mailing out deceptively worded solicitations. Those that failed to follow the requirements outlined in the bill would receive fines that increased with every violation.

OAR garnered publicity for Bill 52 using by educating their members, comprised of more than 30,000 REALTORS, and asking them to help bring the issue to light. The Association also raised awareness on social media and made sure to feature the bill during its 2017 Legislative Conference. As a result of everyone’s hard work the bill passed the House 82-0.

“Ohio’s REALTOR® community is committed to protecting private property rights and helping advance the American Dream,” said Scott Williams, OAR Vice President of Public Policy.

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