The Dixons moved into a new home in October. It wasnt long before I started receiving anonymous envelopes in the mail. Inside were warnings that I needed to buy a copy of my deed as soon as possible.
In fact, the official-looking document (it had a bar code and all) said: Secured Document recommends that all United States homeowners obtain a copy of their current Grant Deed. This document provides evidence that the property was in fact transferred to Dale Dixon. Really?!
On top of the recommendation, Im told if I miss the deadline, Ill have to pay an extra $35.
And then theres the address: Secured Document: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.
While it looks official, I know better.
The Better Business Bureau has sounded the alarm on this scheme in the past, so I tossed that first letter into the shred pile and didnt think much about it. But the next week another arrived, and then another. Ive lost track of the number of solicitations Ive received saying I need to buy a copy of the deed to my house for $83.
Secured Document has earned an F rating from Better Business Bureau.
I encourage those of you who are real-estate agents and brokers to have a conversation with your clients about what to expect after they purchase their homes. While I had a great agent, I didnt hear a heads up that Id be receiving in the mail slimy marketing schemes disguised as ominous notices about buying a copy of my deed. Im fortunate (depending on how you look at it) to be on the leading edge of knowing about scams and schemes. Most people are not keeping a finger on the pulse of the number of people trying to pry money away from the unsuspecting.
The deed-processing notice is so prolific it prompted Canyon Countys assessor to post the following warning online: Property owners do not need to have a copy of their deeds, which are on file at the Recorders Office. Uncertified copies may be downloaded and viewed by using the official Recorders Search on the county website. Hard copies can be (purchased) at the Recorders Office. Cost is $1 per page.
Charging people a fee for something that can otherwise be found for free or very little ($1 per page) is not illegal.
So, to our friends in the real estate industry: As you offer that congratulatory handshake on the close of a deal, offer one last piece of advice: Oh, by way, youll be getting a few letters in the coming weeks claiming you need to buy a copy of your deed for $83. No need. Just toss those letters in the shredder and dont give them a second thought.
Thats one way to leave a lasting good impression on a client, building trust with some simple advice.
Dale Dixon, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon. firstname.lastname@example.org