Prevent Yourself from Falling Victim to Mortgage Fraud

Real estate fraud has been seeing an increase in incidences lately. Be it title fraud or mortgage fraud, it seems that more people are falling victim to real estate fraud and it’s about time people arm themselves with information for better awareness.

What is Mortgage Fraud?

Mortgage fraud is when a person intentionally provides incomplete or fake information to a lender to be granted a mortgage that the person may not otherwise qualify for. It can be committed by someone by falsifying appraisal of a property or by claiming to have higher income than what is the reality.

What is Title Fraud?

Title fraud is committed when someone else poses as the homeowner and tries to sell the home or to get a mortgage using a fake title. Basically, entering into any transaction using false identity and/or false title is title fraud.

Real Estate Fraud in Canada       

Mortgage fraud and title fraud are crimes that affect the banking industry, government, and law enforcement. Although there is no central organization that records or collects data nationally, real estate fraud in Canada is taken very seriously by the sectors involved. Note that the majority of the hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgage value across Canada are normal but still, this has taken the attention of involved sectors and measures are being taken to prevent real estate fraud as well as protect people from falling victim to it.

Protection from Real Estate Fraud

Banks are constantly working to protect people against all types of fraud. Most banks have security teams that are working 24/7 enhancing security, upgrading technology, and implementing plans to prevent fraud from occurring. The security teams also keep a record of data to assist the police with investigations if ever criminal activity is detected. Aside from this, banks work together with the Canadian Bankers Association to combat real estate fraud across the country and have task forces cooperating with the government, real estate groups, the police, private investigators, lenders, and lawyers in order to find out how real estate fraud cases can be prevented so that Canadians can be more protected against it.

Protecting Yourself from Real Estate Fraud

The good news is that you can do so much to protect yourself against this type of fraud by implementing the following:

  • Guard your personal information and do not disclose them over the phone, email, or to people you do not know.
  • Check your billing information and mail. Be sure to follow up if certain mails stop arriving.
  • Make sure items that carry your personal information are kept safe or if needing to be disposed, destroyed to render your information not readable.
  • Check your credit report for discrepancies.
  • Ensure that your home is in your name by checking the registry.

Do not worry about how banks are protecting themselves because they have Toronto private investigators to help safeguard their processes and data. Focus on how you can protect yourself from fraud and the actions that you can do if you suspect that you’ve fallen victim for one. If you need help uncovering information, feel free to contact us to avail of our private investigation services. We can do more than just investigate at Haywood Hunt, we can also help you initiate practices and put up protective barriers so that you can prevent yourself from falling victim to mortgage fraud.

Protect Yourself From Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Fraud

Mortgage fraud and real estate fraud are on the rise; and the frauds associated with them may take many different forms. As unsavoury as it is to think that these types of fraud happen around us, it is really of little wonder because fraudsters are opportunists and as such, they go for the biggest cons they can accomplish. Examples of the biggest heists in fraud are real estate fraud and mortgage fraud.

“It is important to remember that the fraudsters behind mortgage fraud and real estate fraud are con artists who know how to use modern technology to their pull off their fraudulent schemes”, says Mike Porter of Haywood Hunt & Associates Inc. They are able to do this because they know how the real estate process works and are able to spot loopholes that they can use against their victims.

Real Estate Title Fraud

Real estate title fraud is often made to look like a legitimate real estate deal by the fraudsters claiming that they now own the  target property because it was sold or gifted to them by the owner. The usual target here are seniors because it is more believable for a senior homeowner to sell or give their home away, aside from the fact that they usually have the largest assets which makes them attractive targets for fraudsters.

The thief obtains the land title of the victim’s home using a fake transfer document. The details in the document are usually compiled from information that were carelessly shared online (like posting photos of official documents on social media) or from a compiled database full of identity-theft data from target victims.

Mortgage Fraud

The title is then used to get a mortgage that the fraudster will never pay. The hapless homeowner is usually informed only when the home is near foreclosure. Imagine losing your home without knowing anything about an unpaid mortgage!

The average real estate fraud costs around $300,000. Nearly none of the fraudsters involved in schemes like this are ever caught and the homeowners are the ones who are left to cope with the aftermath.

How to Prevent Mortgage Fraud and Real Estate Fraud

People who have access to your personal information may use what they know about you to target you for fraud. The first step towards protecting yourself from being a target for fraud is to restrict what personal information you share publicly and limit who can access your information in the real world.

The above means doing all that you can to prevent identity theft and not being too trusting of neighbours, friends, caretakers, or even distant relatives. Your mail, bank statements, deeds and titles, insurance information, and all financial details must be kept where only you or a person you trust can access. This also means not giving away sensitive information over the phone (some fraudsters will pretend to be from the bank), not writing down your credit card details where unauthorized people may see them, and destroying mail before throwing it in the trash; basically following all the sensible steps to avoid fraud.

Small Improvements to Help Your Home Sell Faster

Getting your home ready for sale need not take expensive renovations and extensive remodeling. Sometimes all you need to do is some smart and inexpensive tweaks to make small changes that buyers can appreciate. Here’s a list of affordable tweaks that you can do before listing your home for sale.

Landscape and Exterior Touch Up

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Curb appeal can make or break a sale. By checking for loose gutters, trimming plants, maybe repainting the garage door and wiping down outdoor furniture, you’ll be making the impression that your home is well taken care of.

Make All Doors and Entrances Stand Out

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Your main door needs to be at its best, so fixing it with a coat of paint and a new doorbell will make a huge difference. Don’t forget other entrances either. Buyers evaluate every entrance when looking around a home they’re interested in. By making sure that knobs and locks work plus the doors look nice, you can give your home an instant facelift effect.

Give Your Walls Some Love

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Peeling paint, stained wallpaper, holes, and cracks can age your home terribly. Fix scruff marks, paint cracks, and nail holes. Perhaps even apply a fresh coat of neutral paint colour more so for rooms with an unusual wall paint colour. This tweak provides the most bang for your buck!

Make Sure Everything Works in the Kitchen

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Replace falling knobs, clean appliances, and make sure that all drawers pull out just fine and that cabinet doors are not falling off the hinges. Buyers want a kitchen that they can see themselves cooking in. You will want to take advantage of that buyer ‘kryptonite’ to make a sale. It doesn’t hurt that this costs next to nothing, more so if you’re handy.

Let Your Floor Do the Talking

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Clean and well-maintained floor speaks volumes. Get rid of raggedy rugs and clean stained carpets. You can DIY this or rent a carpet steamer for cheap.

Showcase Storage

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By keeping your home neat and making sure that everything has a place for storage, buyers will have the impression that your home has plenty of storage and space for their things. You can also DIY some easy storage by repurposing a garage wall for hanging and holding things.

Scent it Right

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Clean and fresh is the way to go so you better clean everywhere and include everyone – yes, the pet(s) and the kid(s)! Stay away from using too many air fresheners because that will give the impression that you’re masking something, rather stick to friendly scents such as coffee, vanilla, or maybe pine. Scented candles are a great choice for this.

Don’t Forget the Finishing Touches

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Finishing touches should make rooms look and feel put together and give the impression that everything has been well-maintained. If you cannot replace a whole bathroom, you can easily update it by replacing the faucets, towel rack, showerhead, and valves. A few fresh white towels can work wonders too!

Are you looking to sell your home in Toronto, the GTA or Vancouver? We can help! feeDuck connects you with a professional real estate agent – keeping money in your pocket. Fill in your house details or desired home buying criteria, and reputable real estate professionals will compete for your business through a 24 hour auction.

2019 Predictions for the Mortgage Market in Canada

2018 was such a ride for the Canadian Mortgage Market. The Stress Test was introduced and a higher interest rate was implemented. This year won’t be any different. Those wanting to get a mortgage, apply for a second mortgage, or get any other types of mortgage on their existing home loan should read about the following predictions to be better informed of possible changes in the near future.

Variable Rates Rotation

The Bank of Canada may reach its estimated neutral rate soon considering the decreasing oil prices and the recent changes in the stock market this year. This and the possible interest rate changes for those with variable rates can make more people gain more confidence about choosing a second mortgage loan with a variable interest rate. Then as the year progresses, better rates may be available again for those who’ll opt for a five-year fixed plan. What to do? Don’t forget to ask a mortgage professional which interest rate may be a better option for you.

Easier Mortgage Terms

Because 2019 is an election year, politicians may add easier mortgage and home loan accessibility to sway more voters. How that will fare in the long run will still depend on who gets to win or stay in office.

Bank Mortgage Sales May Decline

Those who need traditional and second mortgages want fast service with easier terms these days – something that is not usually offered by banks. Most borrowers will also go for a lower interest rate when offered an alternative. This is why private lenders are estimated to approve more primary and second mortgages than banks this year.

HELOC Holders May Face Tougher Rules

Both the Toronto Dominion Bank and the Royal Bank of Canada predict that those who have a HELOC and want a new mortgage on another property will have a tougher time this year. They may also max out their home equity line of credit when their mortgage application is evaluated. When banks assess whether someone may be able to afford a new mortgage or not, they consider all your other loans no matter whether you used your other loans or not. This means that those with an existing HELOC may qualify for fewer or smaller loans from banks. This may not be the same if approaching private lenders.

Lenders May Switch to More Cost-Effective Ways to Address Inquiries

A lot of banks and private lenders use bots to provide instant answers to people visiting their websites. The downside is that the bots cannot give individualized responses and can only reply back with pre-written ones. This year, better bots may be mobilized, which may result in lower operating cost which can mean lower interest payments for consumers. At any rate, better bots mean a lot of time saved for both borrowers and lenders.

Although the predictions above are based on past and current trends plus changes that are being rolled out for all types of mortgages, nothing beats getting your answers straight from mortgage professionals. If you’re interested to apply for a HELOC or need a second mortgage, don’t hesitate to contact us.



Is the Month of May Really the Best Time to Sell a Home?

Most real estate articles and blogs say that the best time to sell a home is during spring and that the best time to buy one is during winter. If this is the case, won’t the home sellers and home buyers have a hard time meeting each other’s needs?

A lot of home sellers who choose to sell in winter do so because they are planning to move to a new home in spring. Know too that selling during the cold winter months can be quite smart because there are fewer properties on the market during that time of the year; hence, there is a bigger probability of securing a sale faster. The downside to this is that some home sellers may feel compelled to settle for a lower price to make sure that they’ll be ready to move to a new home once the season turns.

Observe How the Market Behaves

Given the above, it is true that home buyers typically flock the real estate market come spring. This is why real estate agents usually advise home sellers to try to wait until spring before they sell their home. Another factor is that families with children are more motivated to be done with finding a home in spring because they want to be settled before the new school year starts. Don’t forget too that homes with better curb appeal tend to sell faster for a higher price and spring is when you can showcase your home’s beauty in all its glory.

Best Time to Sell a Home – Is it Really May?

Generally speaking, May is the busiest and yet most relaxed time for the spring real estate market. It is indeed the time when the marketplace is the most crowded, with home buyers wanting to get the best home they can buy. Recent statistics support this, showing that there is an average increase of 75% for homes for sale during May as compared to December.

No Guarantee of a Successful Sale

Note that even with more home buyers on the prowl, there is no guarantee of having a successful sale in May as the statistics for actual home sales in May does not match the increase in listings. What’s good to know is that on average, home sellers who successfully close a deal in May sell their homes for a far better price as compared to those selling in December. This is largely because May also brings with it more home buyers who are willing to join a bidding war to get the home of their dreams. This amounts to selling for between 9% to 18% more than December sellers, an amount that is equivalent to $71,307 to $158,044 – definitely not chump change!

Sell Better with the Help of Low Commission Real Estate Agents in Toronto

Go for a listing agent who’ll look out for you and truly knows the market. If you want to make sure that you’ll get the best deal out of selling your Toronto home, you can look up the commission fees for real estate agents in Toronto to have a general idea of how much a typical agent will get. This way, you can factor it in your pricing. If you use feeDuck, it is possible to find 1% commission real estate agents in Toronto who also happen to be one of the top performers in their area. Contact us today or visit feeDuck for Canada to know more!

Is It Time to Develop a Whistleblower Program for the Mortgage Industry?

An up to $5 million offer will be rewarded to whistleblowers for Ontario’s securities regulator newly launched whistleblower program. The program’s aim is to lead to the prosecution of fraudsters, fraud being one of the biggest reasons for business losses of billions of dollars a year. With this in the works, is it time for the mortgage industry to launch a whistleblower program as well?

The answer to this is, of course, not as easy as the question itself although the allure of the benefits from the Ontario Securities Commission isn’t easy to ignore either. The program gives initiatives to whistleblowers and encourages people to let the commission know of any market manipulation, potential instances of fraud, and other unsavoury activities concerning the securities industry.

The Ontario Securities Commission Whistleblower Program

An incentive of up to $5 million is being offered by the commission for truly valuable information. Besides the cash incentive, the whistleblower will also be extended some protection – a first in Canada!

It should be noted that similar programs have been launched in the past but was met with little success. Nevertheless, this program by the Ontario Securities Commission is definitely a step in the right direction, so the question is…

Should This Also Be Applied to the Mortgage Sector?

As you may have already guessed, the answer to this question will not be a straight one as well. Tip lines are known to have a not-so-high success rate.

Butler Mortgage’s broker Ron Butler was quoted by to have said the same about success rates for whistleblower programs. He cited similar programs in the past that are good intentions, but did not garner good results. He further cited the US’s SEC as an example, saying that although it is our neighbour’s longest-lived and biggest financial services tip line, the failures far outweigh the few successes. The reason for this is because some tips have been ignored by the organization if the person being reported is well-connected or has a great reputation. Bernie Madoff has been reported 5 times by the same securities analyst, but the SEC repeatedly ignored all 5 letters/reports. The reason being Bernie Madoff is a well-connected individual.

Tip lines can become problematic because separating false tips from real ones can be quite challenging. Former employees and terminated agents are known to send in fraudulent tips to wreak havoc on the life of someone they’re holding a grudge against. It is instances like this that make tip lines not very reliable more so if mismanaged.

Perhaps the to get the best use out of tip lines, it should be monitored by professionals who know their way in getting the truth out of every situation. Private investigation firms with decades of experience and a proven track record could be utilized, but that will, of course, cost money as every report or letter will have to be addressed.

Top 5 Fast-Rising Toronto Neighbourhoods 2017

Some Toronto neighbourhoods are rising to the spotlight faster than their counterparts this year! They may be a bit out of the way from downtown, but their more affordable real estate prices and rent are luring people into their embrace, spurring development and attracting businesses to take their market there.

The above brings new life to previously quiet and slow neighbourhoods, making now an exciting time to invest and reevaluate properties in these areas. Curious about which Toronto neighbourhoods we are talking about? Then read about them below!

Birch Cliff

The Birch Cliff neighbourhood is located further east than nearby Upper Beaches although they are often lumped together. It is actually situated around the more exciting section of Kingston Rd. There’s a mini condo boom on the main street breathing new life to the east of Victoria Park and gorgeous luxury homes to the south.

Investing in Birch Cliff is indeed getting more attractive compared to the rather expensive Upper Beaches nearby.

Gerrard East

The Gerard East neighbourhood is set to wake up from being a micro neighbourhood in between Little India and East Chinatown to a bustling retail and restaurant community.

This stretch of Gerrard St. on the eastern edge of Riverdale is truly fast becoming a hot retail place with still a few retail spaces left for the daring entrepreneur.


Rockcliffe-Smyth bears the distinction of having been named as the hottest Toronto neighbourhood by Airbnb, aside from being the location that is one of the most sought-after by home buyers in recent years. One of the main reasons for the above is the abundance of nearby beautiful parkland. Another reason is a new retail hub in the area. The biggest factor would be the still attainable home prices in Rockcliffe-Smyth.

Still to come are more retail spaces along St. Clair but let’s pretend we didn’t let you in on that.

Six Points

Six Points is the busiest neighbourhood in this list in terms of new developments and things to watch out for. There are a lot of new condo developments and current construction as well as an upcoming Metrolinx transit hub at Kipling Station. Major construction of the intersection is scheduled this year and there are plans to redevelop the nearby Honeydale Mall site.

With a the upcoming developments above, we won’t be surprised if Six Points would transform into Downtown Etobicoke in the near future.


Weston is moving up quite fast fueled by the arrival of the UP Express and GO Station together with wallet-friendly rents typically and real estate prices. It doesn’t hurt too that commuting to downtown is just 20 minutes by train.

The Weston neighbourhood have a semi quaint village-like feel owing to its retail strip but this may change soon with scheduled development bringing a new pedestrian bridge to link the residential area to that of the retail and transit side.

Looking for help investing in a second property using your home equity? Or do you need assistance applying for refinancing or a home equity loan? Contact us today for details on how we can aid you.

Vaughan Subway Extension Undergoes Hundreds of Tests by TTC

TTC workers continues testing hundreds of elements on the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension making sure that it is ready to service commuters before the December 17, 2017 opening date.

TTC officials shared that the testings are to ensure that everything works as it should and that there will be no issues when the stations opens to the public.

Multi-Billion Dollar Project

This project has been in the works for more than a decade and came with a price tag of about $3.18 billion. The work included merging old and new technologies, planning and adding provisions for future improvements, and bringing to life 6 stations that will service thousands everyday. Certainly not a small feat and TTC is making sure that it will run as smooth as possible.

The 6 new stations comprise the 8.6 kilometer long extension that will include 2 stations in Vaughan, a major expansion for the city considering that the first major subway expansion was the Sheppard Line in 2002.

TTC COO Mike Palmer shared that about 1500 issues still needed to be fixed, ranging from missing sockets, outlets in wrong places, and more serious operational snags. He added that although the 6 stations have already been built, there is more to running it than simply constructing the stations.

They have to make sure that each and everything works as it should. All wirings and pipes have to be identified to make future repairs easier. The police and fire department both have to conduct drills and familiarize themselves with the layouts and operations of the stations so they can have a protocol in place should they be needed in the future. Certain things have to be updated and connected to ensure that the 6 new stations will function the same but better way than the rest of Toronto’s subway system.

Just Like a New House

TTC COO Mike Palmer likens all the testings to be done to owners and contractors checking a newly-built house for flaws. Just that this house is meant to receive thousands of visitors on any given day and should be ready for future additions while still looking like the rest of the neighbourhood.

Ready for the Future

Because there are already plans for future stations, provisions for connecting them to the Vaughan line has already been made. The agency also took this project as an opportunity to learn about future transit expansion.

The staff will begin familiarizing themselves with the operations in mid November and ghost services will be held to further ensure everyone’s safety and that the stations are ready for people. This means reading and studying hundreds of new documents for Line 1’s 6 new stations’ debut.

To Summarize

6 new stations were built for Line 1 with approximately 2,811 new parking spaces. The project cost a total of $3.18 billion but will only charge $3.25 fare to ride the subway. 1500 identified snags need to be worked out before the December 17, 2017 opening after weeks of ghost testing.

No doubt that the new stations will contribute to increasing the value of properties along the line, perfect for those who have houses nearby who may want to tap their home equity.

Thinking of applying for a second mortgage or getting a line of credit? Contact us for any mortgage related concerns and our mortgage experts will surely help!


Auto Insurance System Reform Being Pushed by Ontario to Slash Rates and Fight Fraud

Ontario has the highest auto insurance premiums in Canada despite the province having low rates of collisions and deaths – a big factor to that is the prevalence of auto insurance fraud.

Changes Ahead

Ontario is looking into ways to push for changes in the auto insurance industry to help try to combat fraud and eventually reduce premiums. This is in view of the reported cost of auto insurance fraud totaling to an estimated $1.6 billion a year as shared by Finance Minister Charles Sousa. He said it is now time to put a stop to the fraud, a move that may create new challenges for real crash victims.

Sousa shared that there are plans for the government to develop standard treatment plans for commonplace collision injuries such as whiplash and sprains. They will also create neutral and independent examination centres for the medical assessment of more serious cases and tackle fraud in the system by establishing a Serious Fraud Office. He hopes that getting rid of fraud will significantly reduce costs and subsequently lower premiums.

The Numbers

Ontario found out earlier this year via a government-commissioned report that the province pays Canada’s most expensive auto insurance premiums despite having the lowest numbers of fatalities and accidents. The higher cost is for covering loses due to auto insurance fraud.

All of the above comes at a time when the Liberal government is still working on their promise of a reduced rate. Although they are about halfway of their goal right now, they missed their self imposed deadline in August 2015.

Lawyers Say New Plan Will Unfairly Target Victims

Personal injury lawyers are not fans of the proposal, pointing out that the new process will work unfairly against real victims.

Michael Smitiuch of Smitiuch Injury Law based in Toronto stated that it seems the current government has a talent for punishing people who truly needed help the most as it will create unnecessary  roadblocks for victims. The lawyer also said that a cookie cutter approach like what the province is proposing will not be enough to adequately meet the needs of injured victims. He further voiced out that he sees more problems in the future regarding claiming of benefits and making sure that they are paid out.

Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ consultant Sebastian Gallagher said the proposed system will do the opposite of providing clarity and lessening confusion.

A Different Time for The Same Mistakes?

Critics expressed that the new plan have concerning similarities with the failed Designated Assessment Centres introduced in 1994 and shut down in 2006. The DAC failed because the process was usually long, drawn out, and a sinkhole of resources.

Should the new proposal be implemented, proving fraud or the absence thereof might become even more difficult. Some people will do anything for fraud. Luckily for you, we specialize in uncovering cases of it through the use of our legitimate private investigation services and techniques. Contact us should you wish to get data on someone or place them under personal surveillance the right way.

8 Unusual Factors that Can Affect Your Home’s Value

Most of us think that it’s all about location when it comes to real estate, and that is true for the most part. However, there are a multitude of quirky or even unusual factors that can affect your home’s price; and we’re not just talking of lot size, number of bedrooms, total square footage, number of bathrooms, and when the home was built.

In this article, we’ll tell you about some factors that seem unimportant or of no value at first, but can have a huge impact on your home’s marketability and price. Keep on reading to know more below!

Your House Number

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Believe it or not, some numbers simply don’t sit well with some people, be it because of their cultural background or just a personal quirk. The number 4 is frowned upon by some Asian cultures and a few 6s in a row would throw off those with a certain religious inclination, therefore the home might have to be priced lower to generate a sale. Statistics also show that for homes listed for more than a million, about 25% have 9 as the last non-zero digit.

What’s In a Name?

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Your street’s name play a huge role in driving up your home’s price. Generally speaking, an address on a boulevard or an avenue allows you to command a higher price than one on a random street.

Trees Are The Your Friend

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The presence of mature trees generally improves property value and lends a certain aura of prestige unto the property. Have a few mature trees lining up the street and buyers would come knocking on your door.

Death Is Never Good

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Most provinces require that a death on the property has to be mentioned when selling a place, thereby possibly scaring off some buyers. Some even require you to mention supernatural occurrences such as ghosts.


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Noisy and/or nosy neighbours is a turn-off! Inconsiderate neighbours will chase away buyers right from the moment they get a glimpse of the noise or unusual behaviour. On the other hand, a simple house in a good quiet neighbourhood usually sells for more than the asking price.

Details and Finishes

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Almost everyone knows that fancy finishes and materials such as chrome and granite can drive up a home’s value, but do you know that crown moulding does the same (for the most part)? Add some crown moulding to add extra class to your home.

Popular Stores Nearby

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Having Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Trader Joe’s nearby can boost your property’s value by as much as 40%. People will pay for convenience, that’s a fact.

Your Sports Fan Gear

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Whether you are wearing your sports fan gear or got them on display, a home buyer who’s a fan if the rival team is likely to perceive you and your home as not good in their book and either offer a lower price or won’t go through with the sale. If they are a fan of the same team, the opposite happens. This is why it is best to keep things neutral by removing personal items when staging a home.

With home selling season these days encompassing the entire year, selling your Oakville home may still be a bit intimidating for you. Let our agents help you for a smoother transition. Contact us today!