Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Does the deed to the property you purchased accurately describe the property?

This morning, Matthew C. Mullhofer’s long time client came into the office with a question regarding a recent purchase he was making. For insurance purposes he wanted to know how to find out if the deed to the home he was purchasing accurately described the property. Usually when a buyer purchases a home they rely on the property’s address to describe the real estate property they are purchasing, and when escrow is closing the buyer usually does not double check the legal description of their home in the deed to verify that it correctly describes the property they are purchasing which could cause problems down the line.

Matthew C. Mullhofer explained to his client that deeds will contain two or three lines of a legal description of the property if it is located in a subdivision, and the street address is often included in it as well. If the property is not located in a subdivision, the legal description will be a “metes and bounds” legal description which usually consists of half a page or several pages containing the property’s terminal points and angles. So how does a buyer verify that the description matches the property?

Matthew C. Mullhofer advised that when going over the Preliminary Title Report which states the exact legal description of the property you are purchasing, the following should be observed:

1) If the property you are purchasing is part of a subdivision, it will appear to have straight lines and form a box type area. The legal description is usually relatively easy to read and verify once you confirm a starting point on the property. However, before escrow closes it should be verified that the legal description on the title policy is the same as described in the Preliminary Report.

2) If the property’s legal description is a metes and bounds legal description, the dimension of the meters and bounds should be sketched out by the title company as part of the Preliminary Report and escrow instructions should state the property being insured is illustrated by the drawing.

3) The real issue is, if it is a metes and bounds description the title company will generally require a survey in order to insure the description of the property. In this case, a surveyor should stake out the borders of the property, and provide the title insurance company with a certified copy of the survey of the property. The survey will set forth the legal description. There might be an additional fee to have the title company insure the legal description provided by the surveyor.

Since 1999 The Law Office of Matthew C. Mullhofer has been helping clients with their real estate needs. Please feel free to contact Mr. Mullhofer at (714) 827-9955 to discuss your real estate questions.

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