I recently represented an elderly property owner who was sued for allegedly backing out of a real estate sale. My client resided in her home situated on a beautiful 40+ acre property her entire life. It is peaceful suburban farmland populated by many animals and containing a huge barn. The property was also a family home for more than 100 years.
My client was approached by a developer who wanted to acquire the property for development. One of the family members who sought to benefit from a sale engaged a realtor when the offered price was discovered. But my client could not sell – she was previously diagnosed with advanced dementia and memory loss. Despite the diagnosis, some of the family members misled my client and pressured her into signing an agreement of sale. Fortunately, other family members came to her aid and halted the sale. The developer filed a lawsuit to enforce the sale called a “specific performance” action.
A property owner who lacks mental capacity cannot sell a property no matter how urgent it may be to sell the property. I have represented very well intentioned families who want to save an elderly person’s property from various real estate problems. But if the property owner did not sign a power of attorney prior to becoming incapacitated, a guardianship must first be created.
I recently helped a family stuck in a bad real estate “rent-to-own” agreement. Jordan is a contractor who purchased a property with the intent to renovate and live in the property. He entered into an agreement with a real estate investor to buy a shell property in West Philadelphia. Unlike ordinary sales using traditional financing, the agreement called for a series of payments over a period of several years to the investor. After all payments were completed, the seller investor was required to transfer the deed.
Investors or home buyers like Jordan may find installment-payment agreements attractive if they have good cash flow but poor credit. The installment arrangement allowed Jordan to bypass the traditional barriers to financing that prevented him from obtaining a loan.
Imagine that you are the heir to your grandmother’s estate. You cared deeply for your grandmother in the years leading up to her death. Due to her deteriorating health, she moved into your home before her eventual passing. The family home became vacant and began to fall into disrepair while she lived in your home. After her passing, you volunteered to serve as the administrator of her estate and stepped forward to handle the legal issues with the property.
Although the property needs substantial rehab, it would make an excellent investment property for a developer. You and the family members decide that it would be best to sell the property and distribute the proceeds among the heirs.
After engaging a realtor, the last recorded deed is retrieved. The deed shows a recent transfer to “ABC Investments LLC.” The deed purports to contain your grandmother’s signature, but it was allegedly signed six months after her passing. The property was stolen by a fly-by-night investor with the hope of flipping the property to an unsuspecting person. The investor’s fraud created a severe title problem for you and the heirs. The property cannot be sold and the inheritance money distributed until the title is recovered.
Stolen title is one of many title problems that can be solved with a Quiet Title lawsuit. Quiet title lawsuits can settle almost any interest in a property. Some quiet title actions are deeply adversarial while others are used to correct a defect in the chain of title.