Land Title Search Hassles

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by leaping leon, Jun 6, 2005.

  1. leaping leon

    leaping leon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    174
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Florida
    My father-in-law died about three months ago; one of his neighbors had asked to buy his house and land about two years before he died (he was terminal for about three years). My father-in-law owned the land for over thirty years. I just got a copy of the deed from 1971. There had been some question of someone having claim to the property, but my father-in-law had quit claim deeds from the possible claimants, and I believe they were all signed about 1971 or 1972. My father-in-law had put DH and his sister on the deed, so there's no probate problem.

    My DH and his sister have a contract with that neighbor, and were supposed to close the deal on June 13. Now the neighbor has told us the title insurance company has problems with the deed, and have delayed the closing.

    I called a major title insurance company at random and they said they only checked back twenty years...

    To quote from Star Wars "I gotta bad feeling about this".

    To top it all off, even after I asked my husband to make sure his sister made copies of the quit claim deeds from thirty years ago BEFORE she handed over the documents, and guess what? She said she would ask the buyer to make copies of them. DH and sister-in-law now have NO records of the quit claim deeds...no copies or anything...unless sister-in-law remembers to ask for copies and the buyer remembers to make them...and remembers to give DH and sister-in-law the copies...

    But, the main thing is: Has anyone had difficulties like this with clearing a title to land? And why would the title insurance company go back over thirty years? Some, maybe all of the people who MIGHT have had some claim to the land are dead now...and maybe their children too!

    Also, could the buyers be lying about the whole thing? They're supposed to be "good people" but today I tried to call their business number and got a disconnected recording, double checked the number, looked for a new number, checked to make sure I was dialing right...their business phone is disconnected...So, could they be trying to scam DH and sister-in-law? Or just trying to get out of the contract, maybe due to financial troubles?

    Please pray for us too...we've put money down on a new mobile home (our present one is 23 years old and the roof is going, multiple leaks...
     
  2. edcopp

    edcopp Well-Known Member

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    Oct 8, 2004
    Location:
    Ohio

    Were the quit claim deeds recorded at the court house? If they were copies will be available from the court house. If not recorded they should have been or should be now. An unrecorded deed is legal. The purpose of recording is to "give notice to the world" of the ownership. There are fees due when recording, a conveyance fee (used to be called stamps) and some fees for the auditor and the recorder. It is possible that your FIL decided not to record to save the fees. This was not the best way to go.

    If the deeds are not recorded, and have been handed to a third party, good luck as they have the original copies. If they are lost or destroyed there is no way to replace them. They prove that you own and can sell after you get the deeds recorded and pay the proper fees. If the deeds are lost it might be possible to do a quiet title actoin in the courts. This would require a petition to the court to eliminate all claims and to complete your FIL's wishes. this would necessitait proving what the wishes were, with witnesses, other notes and so on. Then the petition would need to be advertised for a number of weeks in the local paper to see if any other claimants come foreward. If not the court could then quiet all other claims and award ownership to you, so that you could sell. This is time consuming, and expensive. Lets hope the original deeds were recorded.

    Title searches sometimes are required all the way back to the original land grant regardless of who is or is not now living. Title insurance companies often require this when issuing a policy of title insurance. The insurance companies need to be absolutely sure of ownership before the issue a policy that guarantees that the records are absolutely correct. Situations like short marriages, estranged spouses (never divorced), illigitimate children, and houskeeping situations where the parties were not married can produce relatives that you did not know you had. This is the reason for title insurance. If you can't get the deeds back right away I would suggest hiring a lawyer right away. He can read the court house records and tell you where you stand.
     

  3. momanto

    momanto SW FLORIDA HAPPYLAND

    Messages:
    440
    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    You Can Go To That Website And Put In Your Late Fil Name And See What Comes Up. Of Course, You Could Go To The Courthouse Yourself And Look Up That Particular Piece Of Property. I Live In Fla. Too. Know That In My County They Go Back To The Beginning, Almost To When Fla. Became A State.

    Some Really Large Counties Are Not On That Website, As They Have Their Own Data Basel And Website.

    An Attorney To Handle A Closing Is Well Worth The Expense. Imho.
    If You Aredealing With A Reputable Realtor, That You Personally Know Is Reputable, Who In Turn Uses A Reputable Title Insurance Co. In That Case The Realtor Can Answer These Questions, If Not She/he Will Refer Them To The Attorney For The Title Company. This Is Personal Experience.

    If You Live In My County, (pm If You Want To Know) Dont Use The Title Ins. Co. In The County Seat. They Are Slow And Make Mistakes. Being The Only One In Town - Should Be Better Than That.

    Good Luck With This.

    Mom
     
  4. leaping leon

    leaping leon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    174
    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Location:
    Florida
    Thank you both. I wonder why the employee at that title insurance company said they only went back twenty years...

    I feel so stupid, why didn't I think of hiring a real estate attorney? DH and s.i.l are selling the property without a real estate agent...forgot to mention, the buyer and his wife are home builders (they sometimes buy land and build on spec.) and have access to information that we don't...makes me wonder...

    DH and s.i.l. have decided that no matter how many times I have bought and sold land I'm not supposed to have any influence on how they handle this...and between the two of them their only experience is that s.i.l. has bought one peice of land with a private mortgage...I've bought and/or sold six peices...total of about ten transactions...

    But maybe DH is scared enough to listen to me about getting a real estate attorney...

    momanto, I went to the courthouse and all they found was the deed from 34 years ago, she didn't mention any other quit claim deeds...bummer...and I must be in a different county, we have several title insurance companies...