Homeowner questions cost of deed

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FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. -- David Lemaster loves his new Fountain Hills home.

"This is why we fell in love with this house -- it's the views," he said. "We look at it every day."

But not long after moving into his Fountain Hills home, Lemaster's attention went from those views to his mailbox where he found a notice. It got his attention because it was from Washington, D.C., and it seemed kind of important.

"It looks like a bill," Lemaster said. "I wasn't sure if I was supposed to do something with this or not."

The notice indicated Lemaster could get a copy of the deed to his new home by mailing in $83. However, Lemaster was skeptical and reluctant to mail in the money.

It's a good thing he didn't. 3 On Your Side got a hold of Dean Wegner, a real estate specialist here in Phoenix.

"There is no reason for anyone to pay for this information," Wegner said.

Wegner agreed that the notice looks important and it even lists an address down the street from the White House.

But Wegner said what the company is offering for $83 is something consumers usually don't have to pay for at all. That's because homeowners like Lemaster receive a copy of their deed as part of their closing. But even if you fail to get a copy or misplace it, most counties where the deed is filed will only charge a few bucks.

In Maricopa County, you can view your deed online for free.

"You click on it and it literally takes 25 seconds and you have your deed in your hand," Wegner said.

He's right.

As for the company that's sending out the solicitation, if you call it they even tell you in a pre-recorded message that you probably already have your deed.

The recording says, "We are currently offering to obtain for individuals a certified copy of their deed. Some people, however, already have a copy of their deed. They either obtained a copy from their attorney at the closing, received a copy from the title company or the original was sent to them from the recorder's office."

The recording goes on to say that, technically, homeowners like Lemaster are not in jeopardy if they don't have a copy of their deed.

"This is not something you must have, it is your choice," the recording says.

Lemaster said he's glad he didn't mail in $83 and he's glad he contacted 3 On Your Side.

"I think it is unfortunate because there are probably a lot of people who would fall for this," Lemaster said.

The company does provide a copy of your deed for $83. However, why would you pay that much for an item that most consumers can obtain for free or for just a few dollars?

3 On Your Side tried to get a hold of the company but no one ever called us back.

If you'd like a copy of your deed, you can receive it from your County Recorder's Office. If you live in Maricopa County, you can view it absolutely free at http://recorder.maricopa.gov/recdocdata.