Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Power of One Word

The saga of the elusive closing date continues...

So, with the expected early closing date to take place before April 3rd, our original spring trip is changing from a property search to the Lehman's trip described in an earlier post. The trip to Ohio is fast approaching and still no closing date. We discover that there is a discrepancy in the property's legal description, and that is holding things up. We have no details of what the problem actually is. Our decision between going to Ohio or heading to a possible closing is not settled until the night before we are scheduled to leave for Ohio. There is still no closing date, or even corrected paperwork to allow for a closing date to be set, so we head to Ohio. April 3rd arrives and the bank selling the property has to scramble to set up an extension. They have us sign the agreement and get it back to them while we are in Ohio. They set the new closing date to be on or before April 13th. When we get back home, Alan starts researching the properties title history and discovers what the problem is. Two titles ago, when the property sold to the people that later lost it in foreclosure, there was a typo in the description and one word was changed from 'northeast' to 'northwest' and that is what is causing the delay. April 13th had come and gone and the newest extension now sets closing as on or before May 13th. The person supposedly in charge of the title search and closing said they had 'no idea' what date to put on the latest extension, so it seems that May 13 was a date pulled out of a hat.

For anyone that wants to know how one word can hold up the closing for weeks on end, here is a little explanation of how properties are laid out. We discovered this same system is used across the United States. The largest blocks of land are laid out with Township and Range numbers that can be thought of as X and Y coordinates on a graph. Each of these blocks is broken into 36 sections, which are one square mile each. Each section is divided into quarters and each of these quarter sections is 160 acres. Confused yet?  It should get clearer in a minute. I have drawn a couple diagrams I think will explain the 'issue' with our property. Alan commented that I have become very adept at hand drawing this diagram upside down as I have sat across the table from various people and explained the problem.

The diagram on the left is the Section our property is a part of. I have divided it into Quarter Sections (three tan and one that is further sub-divided, which is the one associated with our property). Back in the 1970's, several titles ago, one person owned the Southwest 40 acres that is the two green shaded areas in the NorthEAST Quarter Section (sub-divided square). This person sold these 40 acres to two brothers, each owned half-interest in the 40 acre plot. The next title change occurred when each brother sold the other brother half of the half-interest in the 40 acres. This split the 40 acres into a north 20 acres (dark green) 100% then owned by brother 1, and south 20 acres (neon green) then owned by brother 2.

 The next sale is what is causing the problem. The brother owning the neon green 20 acres sold it to the people who eventually lost it in foreclosure, but the title created for this sale called it the south half (correct) of the southwest quarter (correct) of the NorthWEST (wrong!) Quarter Section.

Changing that one word from Northeast to Northwest, now places the property, according to the legal description, where the pink rectangle is on the diagram to the right. Remember in a previous post where I joked with the realtor that our 'as is' property could end up being 5 miles down the road? I guess we shouldn't have laughed that off as 'never gonna happen'.

Next, the bank foreclosed on the property and another title was created, but it used the same description as the previous, incorrect title and the mistake was not noticed until the title search was started for the sale to us. So, while we are glad the error was caught and is being corrected, I can't imagine the time, cost and effort being expended to change one word back to what it had been throughout the history of the property until recently. By the way, if you need a title search, Alan has become quite the expert!

I should use my drawing to explain another 'Geek moment' I had. Friends recently asked us what we were going to call our property. Alan and I anthropomorphize just about everything we own, especially our cars, so we should probably at least give our property a name. Alan suggested 'Geek Acres' and has even re-written some of the lines to the theme song of the old 'Green Acres' TV show. I, however, made a further stretch that, while I think it is somewhat ingenious, may be too far of a stretch for people to get. See our bright green rectangle of land in the diagram? It could also be called a quadrangle, which is also often shortened to Quad when referring to buildings and spaces - like a Quad on a college campus. In fact, I just checked and it lists the definition for Quad is 'a quadrangle, as on a college campus'. Thus, my suggest to name our property is "Geeks' Quad". Get it?  A play off of Best Buy's Geek Squad. Oh OK, it is too much of a stretch if I have to explain it, but I still like it. And, like Geek Squad, we do drive a diesel VW beetle, who by the way is named Scooter and has a great personality.

Today's questions:
1. Have we closed on the property, YET? No.

2. Any idea when? Up until yesterday, those supposedly in the know, were telling our realtor they had no idea when to expect a closing date. Yesterday we received an email that said possibly next week.

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