Seller Refuses to Convey Title
Ask the Real Estate Lawyer: Real Estate Law Q&A
By Ilyce R. Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin
Summary: A buyer purchased a mobile home. The seller refuses to convey the title. What can be done? Ilyce Glink and Samuel Tamkin advise a reader.
Q. I purchased a mobile home on contract and made the last payment on the contract. Now, the seller I bought the trailer from refuses to give me the title and the final copy of the contract that states it has been paid off. What can I do to get this paperwork?
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A. If the seller refuses to convey title to the mobile home to you, you will have to sue him or her.
When you buy a home or, even, a mobile home on contract, you essentially agree to buy it over time. The seller retains the title to the property, but you have certain legal rights to the home. In some cases, you must record a document at the local recorder of deeds office or may have to file a document with the secretary of state’s office to tell the world that you are buying the property on contract. This document would give notice to a subsequent buyer that you have an interest in the home and that you may be the ultimate owner of the home upon satisfying the conditions of the installment contract.
Many installment contracts, if not all, should be handled by attorneys. The attorney can take certain steps to insure that in case you, the buyer, fulfill the contract, the title is held by an intermediary third party ready to convey title to you.
In your situation, you should have a copy of the installment contract and you should, I hope, have copies of all of your cancelled checks to the seller to show that you paid all that was due the seller. Make sure you have all of this information and that you are certain that you have made all of the payments required under the contract and that each of them was made on time. While the cancelled checks will show that you actually paid the seller, they can also be used to prove that you paid on time if the seller was promptly cashing your checks.
With this information, you can go to an attorney and sue the seller to force him to transfer title to the mobile home to you.
Perhaps even the threat of litigation and a letter from your attorney may prompt the seller to transfer the title to you. If you ever have another installment contract transaction, make sure you hire an attorney to represent your interests, and that the contract specifically spells out the amounts owed, when the amounts need to be paid and who will be the escrow person that will hold the transfer document that can transfer title to you when you fulfill the terms of the contract.
Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Ilyce R. Glink’s latest book is The REAL U Guide to Bank Accounts and Credit Cards. This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate. This column may not be resold, reprinted, resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher. If you have questions for Sam and Ilyce, write:Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, IL 60022 or contact them through Ilyce’s website www.thinkglink.com.