I am a homeowner with a lot of precious equity in my property. Here is why I am not buying title lock, even though I have experience with this type of situation.
I purchased title insurance when I bought my house. All lenders require it and all smart cash buyers also purchase title insurance. This protects your title from false liens, judgments, errors, omissions, false heirs, or a criminal who tries to file a false quit claim deed on your property.
That is my legal protection, and it is all I need.
The new “title lock” services are nothing more than monitoring services. They check public records (which you can also do for yourself), and then if they see that you were that extremely rare property owner in which a criminal filed a false quit claim, they alert you. But at that point, the filing is already done. (No, it doesn’t mean they now own your house!)
The title lock service is not clairvoyant to alert you ahead of time that a criminal is planning to file a false claim. Nor do they have any way of stopping it from happening. They can only tell you it happened.
What if it does happen? The title insurance you and I purchased when we bought our homes protects us. The title company is responsible to fix the error and pay whatever costs are involved in doing so. Just like fire insurance, the insurance company pays for damages — but with title insurance there is no deductible, so even better.
A couple of criminals posing as friends tried to steal my father’s house. He owned it free-and-clear. He had Alzheimer’s. They figured they could Quit Claim his property to a so-called charity, one they set up with themselves as the owners and trustees. One that no one ever heard of, because they just set it up for the purpose of stealing his half million dollar home. They filed the Quit Claim with the King County Court Recorder. Anyone can file anything; it doesn’t make it legal.
He had purchased title insurance decades ago with First American Title in Seattle. The title representative looked at the Quit Claim and said it was fraudulent. Which was obvious.
As my father’s legal guardian, I was able to stop that illegal nonsense. In this case, I also saw they stole other things from my father, so I hired a good attorney and we sued.
Back to the title lock services: As far as I can tell from Internet searches, it is unanimous among real estate attorneys and among real estate brokers who have been in business for 30+ years: title lock monitoring is a waste of money and does you no real good. You can always monitor your own public record if you’re nervous about being that rare (and usually it is the elderly who are targeted) victim.
If you’d like to read more about why it’s a waste of money, here is a good article with video by Fox5 Atlanta.
The penalty for filing a false Quit Claim or false lien ranges from one to 20 years in prison.