How can I protect myself from fraudulent or spurious real property sellers or property developers?

Here are some helpful tips that may protect you from dealing with fraudulent or spurious property sellers or property developers:

  1. Conduct Title Search - This involves checking the veracity and authenticity of the Owner's Duplicate Copy of the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) or the Condominium Certificate of Title (CCT) which represents seller's proof of ownership over the property. Don't rely on the seller's mere act of showing you the Owner's Duplicate Copy of the TCT or CCT. Check the following:
    • The last digit of the TCT or CCT number and the page number (shown on the upper right hand portion of the TCT or CCT) must be the same. So if the page number of the TCT or CCT ends in 8, the last digit of the TCT or CCT must also be 8.
    • The genuine Owner's Duplicate Copy of the TCT and CCT bears a security mark which can be seen if the original copy is exposed to light. The security mark can either be NLTDRA (National Land Titles and Deeds Registration Administration) or LRA (Land Registration Authority) which is printed across the title.
    • The red seal appearing on the Owner's Duplicate Copy of the TCT or CCT does not or should not smear even if you try to scratch it with a wet towel or wet hand.
    • It is important to visit the Register of Deeds which issued the TCT or CCT to verify the authenticity and veracity of the title. Compare the seller's copy of the TCT or CCT with the original one filed with the Register of Deeds. All aspects of the TCT or CCT on file with the Register of Deed and the copy of the TCT or CCT furnished to you by the seller (either photocopy or original), must be exactly the same: title number, page number, book number, font of the typewriter used, opening and ending words or number per page, and all information and data are the same line per line.
  2. Probe the Identity of the Seller. If the Seller is the registered owner of the real property being sold, request for copies of seller's IDs (preferably driver's license, passport, Tax Identification Number or ID) to properly establish his identity. If the seller is transacting with a real estate broker, you may request an affidavit from the broker that the seller is known to him as the registered owner of the property being sold. If seller is a corporate entity, request for a copy of the company's Securities and Exchange Commission Certificate of Registration, Board Resolution authorizing the sale of the property by the person transacting with you and IDs of authorized representative(s).If the seller is a person other than the registered owner of the property, the seller must have a special power of attorney specifically authorizing him to sell the property and that the SPA has not expired. Again it is advisable to request for the seller's IDs for verification purposes.
  3. Establish Seller's Ownership of Property. As a registered owner of property, the seller must have a clear knowledge of the history of the property and relevant documents to establish ownership. Probe the seller on this information and confirm it with the information in the Register of Deeds and the title itself. The previous owner of the property is recorded and registered in the Register of Deeds and the previous owner's title number from where the seller's title originated is shown in the title itself.
  4. Establish Developer's Compliance with Laws. In case sellers are property developers, request for copies of Certificate of Registration and License to Sell from the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). You may conduct additional verification with the HLURB to determine if the seller-developer is in full compliance with the existing laws, rules and regulations.

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