Mobile, AL asked in Banking, Civil Litigation, Contracts and Real Estate Law for Alabama

Q: We have a property we thought we are buying and have paid for every month since 2017. We have made $30,000 in upgrades

We have made monthly payments, including homeowners and have been paying property tax. The only paperwork we signed was promissory note and vendor's lien deed. The vendor's lien does say the grantor was to have filed deed with the courthouse. Now we are finding that potentially this was never done as when we run a search the grantor is still listed as owner and we are only listed as tenants. What rights do we have?

1 Lawyer Answer
Dragan Ivetic
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  • Business Law Lawyer
  • Chicago, IL

A: Was this transaction (if a "purchase") conducted with a title company? If so you might have a claim under the title insurance and potentially the seller.

However, from the sounds of it - you still owe the original owner for the purchase of the property (If I am reading the "promissory note" reference with the Vendor Lien correctly).

A warranty deed with vendor’s lien is one way to show a debt for the purchase of a property to the original owner. If the debt goes unpaid, the recourse action for the original owner is easily proven in court and they get the property back. Before title can transfer, the lien will have to be paid, removed voluntarily or removed by a court order.

Is it possible that you entered a land contract instead of a promissory note? (they can seem similar to non-lawyers). That is another potential explanation for what you are describing. That you are paying the "seller" over time to eventually own the property. If that is the case - then they would rightly be the owner and you the tenants until the terms of the note are completed.

I am guessing you did not use a lawyer for the closing, given the situation you described. It might be well worth it to seek out a local real estate attorney to check (since I am not licensed in your state and laws may differ).

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