Statute of Frauds

Developer stopped from converting golf course into housing by implied servitude arising out of marketing the golf course as an amenity for nearby homes previously sold by the developer

A developer marketed homes as being next to a golf course with the golf course noted on sales material and the recorded plat. When the developer later tried to convert the golf course into residential lots, the homeowners sued, claiming an implied servitude. Despite the lack of any express covenant in the deeds, the court found the presence of the golf course with the designation as a "golf course" to be sufficient to find the property restricted to golf course purposes. ...

Read more about Developer stopped from converting golf course into housing by implied servitude arising out of marketing the golf course as an amenity for nearby homes previously sold by the developer

Forged acknowledgment in recorded deed means that it does not transfer title

n a dispute between a brother and sister over ownership of the family home, the sister contended that a deed from her mother to her should prevail over an earlier deed from her mother to the brother because she was never made aware of the earlier deed and because the acknowledgment on the deed was forged. An acknowledgment is a notarized statement that the grantor personally signed the deed. In this instance, the grantor (the mother) had not personally signed the deed in the notary's presence. The acknowledgment was therefore defective. The court held in...

Read more about Forged acknowledgment in recorded deed means that it does not transfer title

Third Circuit supports MERS, holds that Pa. law does not require mortgage transfers to be recorded to be valid

Pennsylvania statutes have language that might have been interpreted to require transfers of interests in land (through deeds or mortgages) to be recorded to be valid. If true, that would have undermined the MERS system of mortgage registration. But the Third Circuit gave MERS a win and interpreted Pennsylvania law to recognize mortgage transfers at the moment they are signed; recording is not required for the transfer of the property interest to be valid but is simply for the convenience of the parties and subsequent conveyees. The case,...

Read more about Third Circuit supports MERS, holds that Pa. law does not require mortgage transfers to be recorded to be valid

Express easement is permanent even if created out of necessity and the necessity ends

The Montana Supreme Court has affirmed a traditional rule of property law that express easements are presumed to be permanent even if they are created for reasons that later cease to exist. In this case, the easement was originally necessary to link the property to a public road. When such easements are not created expressly, courts imply them over remaining land of the grantor to ensure that properties do not become landlocked. Such easements traditionally last as long as the necessity lasts. Express...

Read more about Express easement is permanent even if created out of necessity and the necessity ends

Mortgage can be equitably reformed because of mutual mistake

In a classic application of a traditional doctrine of contract law, the Massachusetts Land Court allowed a mortgage document to be reformed because of mutual mistake. Citibank, N.A. v. Heywood, 2014 WL 2158409 (Mass. Land Ct. 2014). While courts are very reluctant to amend written property documents or contracts because of unilateral mistake, it is standard practice to ignore the written terms of the agreement, despite the statute of frauds, when the evidence shows that it does not reflect the...

Read more about Mortgage can be equitably reformed because of mutual mistake

Robo-signing mortgage servicer may have violated state false document statute

The Ninth Circuit held that a mortgage servicer that allegedly engaged in robo-signing may well have violated an Arizona statute, Ariz. Rev. Stat. § 33-420, that criminalizes filing false property title documents with the state recording offices. In re Mortg. Electronic Registrations Systems, Inc (Robinson v. Am. Home Mortg. Serv. Inc.), 2014 WL 2611314, 2 014 U.S. App. LEXIS 10934 (9th Cir. 2014). There was  evidence that trustee's sale documents were notarized in blank and...

Read more about Robo-signing mortgage servicer may have violated state false document statute

No mandatory duty to record titles or mortgages so no evasion of law by MERS

Several lawsuits have been in progress arguing that MERS violated state recording statutes by not recording mortgage assignments and thus cheating recording offices out of fees they otherwise would have earned. Interpreting Illinois law, the Seventh Circuit rejected that claim as have other courts that addressed the issue. Union County v. MERSCORP, Inc., 2013 WL 6017394 (7th Cir. 2013) (applying Ill. law). The court explained that Illinois law...

Read more about No mandatory duty to record titles or mortgages so no evasion of law by MERS

Court rules that designated open space on plat is insufficient to establish an easement absent proof the developer induced buyers to purchase in reliance on promises of open space.

Disagreeing with the ruling of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Reagan v. Brissey, 844 N.E.2d 672 (Mass. 2006), an appeals court in New Mexico held that open space designated on a recorded plat is not sufficient to create an easement of access by owners of lots on the map in the absence of evidence the developer made representations to buyers inducing them to buy in reliance on promises those lots would remain open. The mere presence of open space on the map was insufficient to prevent the developer from selling that open space for development purposes. ...

Read more about Court rules that designated open space on plat is insufficient to establish an easement absent proof the developer induced buyers to purchase in reliance on promises of open space.

Oral agreement to buy property does not create a compensable property interest when the property is condemned

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that a potential buyer who had an oral contract to buy real estate did not have a right to just compensation when the property was condemned by public authorities. American Central City, Inc. v. Joint Antelope Valley Auth., 2011 WL 2420787 (Neb. 2011). Although oral agreements to buy property are enforceable despite the statute of frauds in cases of part performance, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that the potential buyer's sole remedy was against the seller of the...

Read more about Oral agreement to buy property does not create a compensable property interest when the property is condemned