Jsut wrote a contract on a property here in Manatee County, Florida. The listing was entered into MLS by a flat fee brokerage for ($150). All showings, questions, offers, etc. had to be directed to the seller. The first thing I do when I want to write an offer is pull up the tax data to confirm who the property is title too. Lo and behold, it was not titled to the company listed on the MLS sheet. But, don't panic yet! Here in Florida and in the counties I service, there are many tax deed sales happening and tax data may be a bit behind. Doing my due diligence, I was able to search tax deed sales. Seller did not show up in this property, but on another property. All is good so far. From this research, I was able to obtain more information on who this seller is, where there office located and who represented the seller (it was a management trust). The next thing I did was search public records under the sellers name and found the foreclosure information and saw that the proceedings occurred and it went to on line auction for sale in June. Then I researched the auction sales and BINGO, there was the sale listed and the title certificate issued to the new owner, the one on the MLS sheet. Sure, I could have asked the seller myself, but he took too long to return my phone call, so hence I conducted my research. It took all but about ten minutes to see that this property was being sold by the rightful owner. Yes, the title company would have picked it up, but why waste my and the buyer's time? The buyer was excited to purchase it after gruelingly waiting for a short.....I mean "long sale" to fall apart. Why let them down by not researching first!!!
There have been horror stories here in Florida about houses being rented out by someone who was not the owner and people being scammed on houses being sold by scam artists who take the deposit and run!
The old saying "Let the Buyer Beware" still stands! But, I say, "Let the Buyer Beware AND use a Realtor."
Helen Wiegman, GRI, CDPE
Wiegman Realty Group