Families Fight Fraud to Keep Their Homes - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Families Fight Fraud to Keep Their Homes

Realtor urges buyers to insist on title companies for real estate closings

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    Families Fight Fraud to Keep Their Homes

    Two Dallas families are speaking out about fraudulent real estate deals in which they wound up paying twice for their homes hoping other families will not become victims. (Published Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018)

    Two Dallas families are speaking out about fraudulent real estate deals in which they wound up paying twice for their homes.

    The houses are side by side on Pine Street in Dallas. Both were in very bad shape when the families moved in.

    Irving Realtor Lisette Caraballo volunteered to help the families and translate for them.

    Veronica Valentino said her family paid $7,000 for a house with bad plumbing, wiring, walls and floors. After spending $30,000 to fix those things, the family learned the seller they paid did not actually own the house. The family is still negotiating with a second seller, hoping to finish the deal very soon.

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    "They can't wait for this to be over," Caraballo said. "This has been a nightmare for them, and they haven't been able to be at peace."

    Jose Palma is now securely the owner of the house next door after the first seller took Palma to the Dallas County Records building to sign papers that looked official for an $8,500 sale. That seller did not own Palma's house, and the real owner came forward later demanding $14,000.

    "An angel came into their lives and purchased the house for them, and now the house is theirs," Caraballo said.

    Since the first news reports about Palma's plight, Caraballo said she has heard from more than 50 other families in the same situation with other sellers.

    The real estate agent encouraged buyers to work with an experienced real estate expert and use a title company to close the sale.

    "What a title company is going to do, they're going to search title and see who are the legal owners and any liens that are on the house," Caraballo said.

    Title company charges vary based on the cost of a property. Standard document and preparation fees will also be included. Buyers can negotiate with sellers to pay those fees.

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