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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 38910
Experience:  Attorney and Real Estate broker -- Retired (mostly)
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A friend of my purchased a house in Northern California in

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A friend of my purchased a house in Northern California in 2007 at the height of the housing market. He soon thereafter got injured and was/is unable to make his mortgage payments. In 2008, I agreed to move in and save his house with the understanding that I was to be co-owner and placed on the deed. I gave him $5000.00 to stop the foreclosure and for the first couple of years I paid the entire mortgage. After I refused to make any more payments he finally filled out a Grant Deed with me as 49% ownership and had it Notarized. Thereafter; I continued to make the majority of the mortgage payments (9 out of 12) until a year ago when he got married and his wife moved in, and I started paying half the mortgage.
Now; with his wife income, he figures they can make the mortgage payments, has moved her adult daughter in, and asked me to leave so they can be a family. I told him that he needed to cash me out and I would go. However; I've done some research and discovered that although he had the grant deed notarized, he never filed it with the recorders office. What are my options in this scenario?

Do you have the original grant deed in your possession?


Do you have any other writing memorializing your original agreement?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, I do have original grant did he filled out making me 49% owner. Other than that just witnesses to our agreement

The general rule of real estate is that the grantee (that's you) records the deed -- not the grantor. So, take the deed to the county clerk-recorder's office and record it. As long as no one has recorded a deed or mortgage in between the time that the deed was granted to you, there would be no difference, and your ownership interest will be confirmed by operation of law.

Please let me know if my answer is helpful. And, thanks for using!

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks. And if there is another deed or mortgage then what?

Then, you have a problem, because California is called a "race-notice" jurisdiction, when it comes to recording deeds. What this means is that the first person to record a deed owns the property interest identified by the deed, and anyone who records later, loses the "race."

This doesn't mean that there is no recourse. If your friend gave someone else a deed to the same property interest as was given to you, then that would be a pure fraud, and you could sue your friend for the lost value in the property.

But, you wouldn't be able to recover your actual interest in the property, unless you could prove that the person to whom the other deed was given knew that you had a preexisting deed -- such that the other grantee could be declared a joint defendant in the fraud.

Probably none of this will come up. When you go to the recorders' office, ask the clerk to print out everything recorded against the property between your recording and the date that you originally made the agreement with your friend. There may be nothing, in which case, you have no worries.

Hope this helps.
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