Friday, March 20, 2015

The Confused Buyer

Well, well, well … it appears my blog has been on hiatus. I did it just so I could use the word “hiatus” in my blog. It’s a cool word. It really is! You know, maybe I should just call it my bi-monthly blog. That way, I could either do it twice a month (“bi-monthly”) or once every other month (“bi-monthly”) and still be correct. Huh? What? Isn’t that weird? How can bi-monthly mean two completely different things? Wait! This is deja vu all over again! I covered this in an earlier blog. You will have to search the old ones and find it. Consider it a little treasure hunt. 

Actually, I have been busy. Days become weeks become months. For those of you in the sunny Southwest, you can appreciate. This is the time of year when the visitors arrive to get out of their doldrums of wintriness. You know, cold snowy season and cabin fever? Yea. That. Anyway, the visitors come, we have lots of fellowship and I don’t write a blog. I did, however, have plenty of time for friends and family. 

Speaking of family, did you know people are weird? And, when you introduce property they become downright suspicious or even questionable? This happens. Those of you with or without children will understand. This installment has nothing to do with the statement about children. But, it’s a Bill Cosby line and I wanted to use it. He is really funny. What happened to the old-fashioned comedians who were clean or relatively clean in their humor? How did they become obsolete? I was recently listening to some old-time radio on the Internets and was LOL-ing at Abbott & Costello, WC Fields and Laurel & Hardy. That was humor!! Now you have to be vulgar and full of cussing to be “funny”. But, it ain’t funny. Nope. Not at all. In fact, I find it disturbing. Bill Cosby had some great stories about family. This one isn’t great. But, it happened. It’s about family.

We sold a house to a fellow and he said he was married. We opened escrow and things were moving along nicely. Just so you know, our escrows usually happen quickly and close within a week to 10 days. I wanted to say, “in a week to 10 days 2 weeks to a month”. But, they rarely go beyond 10 days for wholesale deals. So, I will stick with a week to 10 days. Anyway, we were a few days into it and needed the buyer’s wife to fill out some paperwork. However, the buyer did not speak English and the escrow officer did not speak Spanish. She called the agent and said we needed the wife to sign some paperwork. The representative said the buyer was single and was adamant he was. So, title changed the title commitment to reflect the buyer being single. 

Well, a day or so later the buyer was reviewing the documents and said he wasn’t single and it shouldn’t say he is. So, the escrow officer told him he needed to submit his wife’s name to title so they could get her to sign the documents too. “For what?”, he asked. The answer: to have her on the title or to sign a "disclaimer deed". In other words, you should sign a deed. If you are not to be on title you are to execute a disclaimer deed, which does exactly as it looks; it disclaims your interest in the property. You see, Arizona is a “community property state” which means, unless otherwise stated, the property is jointly owned by both spouses - whether both names are on title or not. Know what’s weird? There are only 9 states which recognize “community property” and they are mostly in the west. Interestingly, it was inherited from Mexico, which was copied from Spanish law which Louisiana was first state to adopt. A French “colony” used Mexican law adopted from Spain in the United States. We are a melting pot indeed!

Know what else is weird? Disclaimer deeds are only in effect when both individuals are alive. So, if the one that has the deed has died, the individual that disclaimed her interest in the property suddenly may have interest in the property. This happened. Ben had negotiated a purchase of a property. After inspection, the property was in worse condition than we thought and Ben called the seller to tell him. A lady answered the phone and asked Ben who it was. Ben told her. She said she would have someone call him back. Why didn’t they have the seller call? A little while later Ben received a call and the seller had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away! He was only in his 40s. We were still interested in the property but would wait until things settle down. 

The deceased man owned the property in his name as his sole and separate property. We assumed he was single. He was married. However, he was separated and his wife had disclaimed her interest in the property by signing a disclaimer deed. In a community property state, after a property owner dies it immediately follows community property if there are no wills or other documents stating otherwise. If there is no surviving spouse it then goes to the children, and so on. Therefore, a wife that disclaimed the interest, although currently separated and estranged, suddenly has interest in the property. And, all of a sudden she had a personal interest in the house which she previously wanted nothing to do with. Property and money do this to people. 

But, I digress. Back to the first story. The reason title needs these deeds and disclaimer deeds and similar documents is because they insure the title and need to know all parties, and potential parties, involved. Since they insure it, they have a right to know, correct? All that information notwithstanding, we must get back to Mr Buyer. He was a bit confused and wondered why his wife needed to sign when she wasn’t really his wife, but his girlfriend. They just have been so long together it is the same thing. He just said they were because they are the same thing as married but not legally married. And, he calls her his “wife” even though she is not. Confused? So were we. 

It went something like this: Buyer is married. No, he is single. Actually he is married. No, he isn’t REALLY married, he’s just kind of married. Or, he is, like, married. Like. Teenagers use the word “like” a lot. 

Dad: Hi! How was school today?

Teenager: It was like really boring. I don’t know why we even go. We, like, don’t even learn anything. I mean, like, do I really need to know what the area of a triangle is? Like, it’s really stupid. 

Dad: You must like school a lot. you used the word “like”, like 4 times. 

Teenager: Dad! You are like so weird! Like, wow!

Dad: (Yea. Like wow)

Geez. I may never finish this experience with all these mental interruptions. Focus! (Focus. This reminds me of Jeff Dunham and his sidekick, Peanut....) So, after further review, Mr Buyer said he is single but the paperwork is still incorrect; he actually has two last names, not one. Wow! He didn’t realize the first time he reviewed the documents? He didn’t notice the contract he signed contained only his one last name? Where do we find these buyers?

In the end, he closed, signed documents stating he wasn’t really married, had two last names on the paperwork and we sold the property. I don’t know if he was married or not. I don’t know if he was telling the truth or just wanting a property in his name alone. Or, if it was simply the language barrier being the problem. I don’t know if he went by one last name or two. It isn’t important. We don’t have to prove who the buyer may or may not be. We just need to provide a decent property at a decent price with clean title; which is what we did.

And THAT is real estate in my corner of the globe