What are Non-Title Recorded Agreements for Personal Services (NTRAPS)?
The practice by service providers of offering homeowners nominal upfront monetary compensation in exchange for an agreement for future services. These agreements are recorded in property records and purport to run with the land, binding future successors and adding cost, complexity and barriers to transferring or financing their property.

Are NTRAPS currently being used in the marketplace?
Real estate brokerage firms are offering nominal cash to homeowners if they sign a listing agreement that is binding for up to 40 years. Since 2018 these types of NTRAPS have been recorded in property records as covenants and encumbrances on the title to homes. Homeowners have faced penalties of 3% of their property value, as determined at the sole discretion of the vendor, if they wish to have the encumbrance removed because they want to list their property with another brokerage firm or for other uncontemplated occurrences such as:

  • Transferring property title to a family member
  • Foreclosure
  • Transfer on death
  • Conveyance due to divorce
  • Sale to a developer or other person or entity not involving licensed real estate professionals

In addition, if the homeowner fails to pay this penalty, the firm can file a lien on the home, further clouding the title.

Examples: You can read press coverage on these NTRAPS here.

What financial incentive is offered to consumers for signing NTRAPS?
The nominal monetary value being offered to consumers for a 40-year listing agreement has been seen to be as low as $300.

How do NTRAPS impact consumers?
These agreements obligate the current and future property owners to utilize the service providers for up to 40 years.

Why are NTRAPS harmful to consumers?
Consumers do not have the expertise of real estate professionals or attorneys. They may not have the benefit of legal counsel and may not fully understand the agreement or the long-term implications to the ability to transfer or finance their property. Elderly homeowners or those in need of the financial incentives being offered are particularly at risk, and NTRAPS can result in significant monetary loss when transferring or financing their home. Additionally, NTRAPS provisions allow the listing agreement to be assigned without notice to the property owner.

Has there been regulatory action on NTRAPS?
In Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and North Carolina, the Attorney Generals have filed complaints stating NTRAPS being used in the marketplace are deceptive, unfair, and unconscionable business practices.

What does the model bill seek to accomplish?
The model bill removes impediments to transferring or financing the impacted real estate by:

  1. Making NTRAPS unenforceable
  2. Restricting and prohibiting the recording of NTRAPS in property records
  3. Creating penalties if NTRAPS are recorded in property records
  4. Providing for the removal of NTRAPS from property records and recovery of damages

Why is this legislation drafted broadly?
While the NTRAPS agreements in the market today are generally real estate listing agreements, other businesses have tried to implement similar business practices in the past. The goal of this legislation is to protect consumers and provide a remedy for existing NTRAPS, while discouraging future unfair and deceptive trade practices in real estate.

Are there any exemptions in the model bill?
Yes. Exemptions include:

  • A home warranty or similar product that covers the cost of maintenance of a major home system (for example, plumbing, HVAC or electrical wiring) for a fixed period
  • An insurance contract
  • An option to purchase or right of refusal
  • A declaration created in the formation of a common interest community or an amendment thereto
  • A maintenance or repair agreement entered by a homeowners’ association in a common interest community
  • A mortgage loan or a commitment to make or receive a mortgage loan
  • A security agreement under the UCC relating to the sale or rental of personal property or fixtures
  • Water, sewer, electrical, telephone, cable, or other regulated utility service providers
  • Mechanics’ liens

Can legislators and regulators work collaboratively to protect consumers?
The proposed legislation protects consumers and provides state regulators with the ability and authority to assist consumers in seeking damages caused by NTRAPS.

NTRAPS Articles

Recent 2023 2022

Real Estate Company Accused of Deceptive Practices
WPVI-ABC TV Philadelphia  |  December 8, 2022

Data pulled from Philadelphia records suggests MV Realty may be focusing on minority neighborhoods. ALTA supports efforts to protect consumers by prohibiting the filing of unfair real estate fee agreements in property records, a practice that creates impediments and increases the cost and complexity of selling, refinancing or transferring real estate. ALTA advocates for state laws and regulations preventing enforcement of Non-Title Recorded Agreements for Personal Services (NTRAPS). A subgroup of ALTA’s State Legislative/Regulatory Action Committee developed a model bill prohibiting unfair service agreements.

Action News Investigation: Real Estate Company Accused of Deceptive Practices
WPVI-TV Philadelphia  |  December 6, 2022

Data pulled from Philadelphia records suggests the company may be focusing on minority neighborhoods. Rosetta Loper Grant, who is selling her Oxford Circle home, signed onto the agreement offered by MV Realty.

Florida Attorney General Sues Real Estate Brokerage for Scamming Homeowners
Tampa Bay Times  |  November 30, 2022

The Florida attorney general’s office is suing a Delray Beach-based real estate brokerage for allegedly using deceptive business practices to prey on vulnerable homeowners. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in Hillsborough County Circuit Court claims that the company, MV Realty, uses a “complex and deceptive scheme” to swindle consumers out of their home equity.

Real Estate Racket? Company Offers Homeowners Quick Cash in Exchange for 40-year Lien
WHIO-TV 7  |  November 21, 2022

It’s a check for few hundred dollars. But it comes with a 40-year real estate contract. That’s longer than most mortgages. And it could end up costing homeowners who sign up thousands of dollars down the road. It’s all part of a deal that some people say they’ve now come to regret. The News Center 7 I-Team’s lead investigative reporter, John Bedell, is digging into how one realty company isn’t just tying up Miami Valley homeowners with 40-year listing agreements, they’re taking them to court to collect big fees.

Realty Company Offers Fast Cash, but Locks You in to 40-year Commitment
WSOC-TV - Charlotte, NC  |  November 17, 2022

A lot of people are looking for extra money. A realty company offers fast cash to homeowners -- thousands of dollars in some cases -- with no interest or fees and you don’t even have to pay it back. MV Realty calls it the “Homeowner Benefit Program.” The company will give you up to $5,000.

[eGuide] Access 'The Title Operator's Guide to Implementing ALTA Best Practices' from Qualia.