It's the positive impact the solution has on the customer that matters to us, not just the size of the project.
Applying risk analysis, knowledge of the laws and a thorough read of the research on the property, we set up requirements to issue a policy and exceptions affecting the property. We work through them with the customer and structure our requirements and exceptions to offer insurance that suits the customer's transaction objectives.
* Buyer was a business owner who owned the neighboring lot and wanted to purchase the adjacent lot from the municipality to satisfy parking needs.
* Seller was a municipality who couldn't clearly identify what the dimensions of the property were, since they obtained it so many years ago through tax sale foreclosure (no metes and bounds description), had deeded part of the lot back and forth with the State for a never-developed highway and had sold a tax sale certificate on a part of the lot they couldn't identify the dimensions of.
Expertise applied to find the Solution:
The descriptions in the deeds were old tax lots and blocks, as well as parcel identifiers on never-implemented transportation maps. To find what property this was referring to the title research had to be expanded far beyond the public records. It required befriending the tax assessor and municipal historian to gain access to old tax collector cards (that shows building drawings and lot dimensions each year), as well as old fire maps (which shows buildings and lot dimensions). Searching through other storage areas of the municipality eventually turned up the never-developed highway maps.
It turned out part of the lot the municipality had under contract to sell to our buyer had a third party lien on it. That third party had previously made claims to the municipality, but the three prior title agencies hired to complete the research weren't able to identify the property dimensions, so he couldn't pursue his interest effectively.
Our buyer bought the much needed lot for parking , the selling municipality got paid and paid the third party on the same day. Cleared Title.
* The homeowners were excited for the opportunity to refinance and benefit from the reduced mortgage rates. However, title showed an open mortgage, which was previously refinanced and paid off. The prior title agency could not provide the mortgage clearance documents and the prior lender was out of business. The homeowner found the prior settlement statement, but did not have proof via cancelled check or other evidence the prior lender received the payoff money.
Expertise applied to find a Solution:
Typical research sites used to find out of business lenders showed no usable results. The question was brought to Paula, who decided to search the bankruptcy courts. It turns out the prior lender went bankrupt many years back. Since the bankruptcy was too old, the records couldn't be found online. The next step was a search of the internet for newspaper articles announcing the bankruptcy and providing information to debtors and creditors, which thankfully turned up contact information for the successor to the trustee. A request for a discharge of mortgage was sent along with a copy of the settlement statement and a discharge was obtained.
The homeowners were able to close on the refinance prior to their rate expiration and take advantage of the opportunity to reduce their monthly expenses. Cleared Title.
* Buyer wanted to purchase a mobile home park for investment purposes, but the bank would not lend money on the property because one of the mobile home pads was built into a gore (area of unknown ownership).
* Seller wanted to sell the property and go through the least expensive process to resolve the encroachment into the gore. Moving the pad was estimated at $15,000.00. Doing the research and resolving the gore issue amicabily with the neighbors - much less.
Expertise applied to find the Solution:Research back to the 1800s completed in the County land records revealed the historical view of the gore. The land records were interpreted by Paula and presented to underwriting counsel at the insurance company to confirm they accepted the interpretation of ownership. As it turned out, the gore area was not owned by anyone, and the only parties that could lay claim to it were the two adjacent owners.
The other adjacent owner to our seller was not interested in the gore area. In fact, they were motivated to have it cleaned up out of fear this title question would interfere with a smooth sale of their property. The adjacent owner was happy to sign a deed for the gore piece to our seller and put him in a position where he could sell his property without problems as well. Cleared Title.
* Buyer was excited to invest in some rental income property and add to its portfolio of investments. The price was right, the property perfectly located and the management team already had its success plan in place.
* Seller was anxious to get the property off its books, but was entangled in active litigation against a title insurance company over prior owner mortgages open of record and some tenant leases.
Expertise applied to find a Solution:
Since the buyer was willing to take subject to the leases, the only issue was the active litigation and the prior owner open mortgages. The seller would not drop the litigation until after closing, just in case the transaction didn't go through, and the title insurance company wouldn't offer insurance until there was no active title litigation on the property. It took some convincing to get the title underwriter to even talk about the file, because Paula had to go through the corporate office and then outside counsel. However, after some convincing, they agreed if Paula was certain the seller would provide signed papers at closing dismissing the case with prejudice, they would talk about the title.
All the negotiation with the title underwriter and communication inconsistencies with the seller caused enough of a delay to give Paula time to research the mortgages. As it turned out, the mortgages were cancelled by a Bankruptcy Court Order from the 1990s, but no one had a copy and it was never recorded in the land records. Paula ordered them from federal archives and had them recorded in the County land records by the time everyone was ready to close.
Buyer closed on the property and met its investment goals. Seller successfully unburdened its management team from the project, ended its growing litigation expense and got paid. The title underwriter was out of court and even made another premium on the property. Cleared Title.