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Tips to Detect Fake Land Titles

Part of buying a home is ensuring that the ownership of the title is transferred from the seller to the new owner. This six-step process of transferring a title secures the ownership of the buyer. Unfortunately, there are instances where home buyers are fooled by deceitful sellers with fake land titles. What’s worse is when they realize it too late.

One thing that sets authentic land titles apart from fake ones is their identifying marks – physical qualities that make them distinct. As long as they know what details to look at, buyers can actually detect fake land titles on their own.

Check the following qualities to identify between authentic land titles and fake ones:

  • The color of an old title is light yellow, but for new titles or e-Titles, the color is pale straw.
  • The texture of the paper is similar to that of a bank check.
  • The document has a faint watermark that reads “LRA” can be seen on the title when held against light.
  • Dots and tiny fibers are visible, and these fibers should shine lightly when exposed to UV light.

There are additional details to look for in the contents of the land title. An original Certificate of Title (OCT) should bear “Judicial Form No. 108-D” at the top. For a Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT), it should have “Judicial Form No. 109-D.”

The last two digits of the page number on the upper right hand side of the title should correspond to the last two digits of the TCT.

For e-Titles, the information should be encoded digitally and printed as opposed to the written titles of old. There should also be a dark red seal on the lower left hand side that should not blot out even when tested with water.

If an owner’s duplicate copy is lost or destroyed and reconstituted, it should bear the letters “RT” preceding the title. Meanwhile, the original copy of the title that was reconstituted should contain the letters “RO” before the title number.

Home buyers need to keep these reminders in mind when a land title is presented to them. While this is a simple check – a first-glance evaluation – there are ways to verify a land title’s authenticity further. This can be done through the Land Registration Authority and the Registry of Deeds.

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