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Providing check or cash for a quitclaim deed a bad idea

June 2, 2017
By ERIC FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

My neighbor owns a lot that is between our two homes, and we have both lived in this neighborhood over 15 years. He wants to sign the property over to me through a quitclaim deed for $10,000, which I believe is a good price. Can I just give him the money for the deed, then record it at the Lee County Clerk office?

- Trudy H.

Dear Trudy,

I have many clients that seek to purchase the lot next to their home, as it provides so many options. You could have a place for your pets to run, plant a garden or just give yourself some space. However, providing check or cash for a quitclaim deed is a bad idea for many reasons. First, a quitclaim deed provides that the person signing is giving all rights to the property they have to you. So, the question is, what exactly do they own? Is it in their name at all? Many people think they have good title to property they actually don't. A title search is absolutely vital to ensure they actually own the property with no liens. The IRS could have a lien, which won't be taken off the property simply by the transfer. Your neighbor may have thought they took the property through probate when there was a defect in service. And, if they are married, will the signature of the owner's spouse be needed? In this case, where it is attached to their homestead, the answer would be yes, even if the property was titled to the owner only. The fact that you all have lived in this neighborhood for over 15 years does not impact the need to make sure the property is held with good title and without liens. For instance, if the IRS has a lien against them for $30,000, you could lose the entire amount of your purchase price.

While true that there are costs in ordering a title search and obtaining title insurance for a purchase, the costs could be far greater if you find that you have a title with defects. In Lee County, the seller normally pays for title search and owner's title policy, so I would strongly recommend you ask the seller to do so. As always, prudence and caution must be taken when purchasing real estate.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for 28 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Southwest Florida to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continued his service to the community through his chairmanship of the Harney Point Kiwanis Club KidsFest from 2011-2015, which provides a free day of fun and learning to thousands of Cape Coral families, and funds numerous scholarships. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 14 years, and they have four children together. Recently, he earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.



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