The Ghosts Of Real Estate Past – Clearing Title In Washington State
Posted Nov 20, 2019
By Washington State Business and Real Estate Law and Litigation Lawyer Babak Shamsi
Do you remember that old real estate contract your parents entered into in the 1970s to buy the family home? Or perhaps that loan they took out against the home in the 1980s that they paid off after a few years? It is possible that your parents decided that these long completed real estate transactions might not make for the most interesting dinner conversation. Unfortunately, you might someday end up thrust into a strange and frustrating, but surprisingly common, situation where these old forgotten clouds on title from decades ago linger on like ghosts.
This issue can arise in multiple scenarios. For example, a buyer and seller might have entered into a real estate contract for sale of a property but never recorded a deed after completing the sale. Or perhaps a property owner borrowed money from a lender who recorded a deed of trust against the property, but then failed to release that deed of trust after being paid back in full. Unfortunately, these satisfied but unreleased encumbrances might still appear on title, and when a property owner tries to conduct a sale (or commonly a deceased property owner’s heirs try to transfer the property out of the estate), the title company might pick up on these encumbrances and require that the title issues be resolved before a transfer can be fully completed.
Clearing title can be a difficult prospect. It may involve resolving the interest of the current beneficiaries of those encumbrances either by agreement or by litigation. Often times the parties involved on both sides of the original transactions have passed away, leaving their heirs to sort the property issues out. When the transactions occurred decades ago, the heirs may not even be aware of the transactions at all. Where the beneficiaries of old real estate contracts and/or deeds of trusts have no awareness of the underlying transaction, helping them to understand what has happened can be a difficult task. Moreover, even simply locating the correct heirs can pose serious problems when it comes to very old transactions. Sometimes, where all of the heirs cannot be found, or where one or more will not cooperate, the only solution might be to bring a lawsuit to quiet title to the property. To make matters worse, these complex situations often arise when parties are already in the midst of trying to close transactions.
Clearing title can be stressful and difficult. Luckily, the lawyers at Beresford Booth, PLLC have extensive experience in addressing title issues on the behalf of property owners. If you find yourself in need of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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