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alex .

Feb 9, 2004, 4:15 PM

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a convoluted land deal

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Just to give you an idea of how twisted up it can get:

Awhile back I told of how my brother in law sold land that his mother was going to leave to him when she dies. He didn't want to wait, sold the parcel for 5000 pesos, partied the money away, then ended up homeless. What a dope, he deserved it, though his 5 children did not. Turns out that his mother, my suegra, didn't own the land in question, so it wasn't hers to give just as it wasn't his to sell. The real owner is the man that my suegra was living with many years ago. They had a child together and the land is this childs birthright. So now he is of age and wants his property. Since it adjoins my suegra's property we ( me, my wife, and my half-brother-in-law) are offering the illegal tennants 10,000 pesos to vacate, or take the risk of getting kicked off with nothing. All this on Ejido land. Are we having fun yet?
Alex



Carron

Feb 10, 2004, 7:34 AM

Post #2 of 19 (4062 views)

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Re: [alex .] a convoluted land deal

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Sounds about tipico! When we first moved to Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, we made a hefty deposit on a wonderful old house out from the city. As buyers, we had the right to choose the notario who would handle the deal. He rightly advised that we could not finalize the purchase until he had thoroughly checked out the legal ownership of the property.

The seller was an elderly gentleman who was dying of cancer and was selling the property (it was not his home but he rented it out) so he could go to Mexico City for treatment. On receiving our deposit money, he arranged for all his tenants to move out immediately. A week after our first meeting with the notario, we all re-convened in his office. Turned out that the old man had bought the property about forty years earlier and put not only his "wife" but his three daughters, who were babies at the time, on the deed as co-owners along with him.

The property could not be sold without the signatures of all three daughters, whom the father had lost track of years ago. He thought perhaps two of them might have moved to the US, another might have been somewhere in Mexico. His argument was that, since they were babies at the time he put their names on the deed and since it was obviously his money that paid for the original purchase, he should have the legal right to sell. Not so, explained the notario.

But the final crushing blow for the old man came when the notario also explained that he and his "wife" were not legally married since they had married almost half a century earlier only in the church. There had been no civil ceremony and therefore the marriage was not recognized by the Mexican government.

We got most of our deposit back and the poor old man left in tears. It was one of the saddest moments in my life as well.


alex .

Feb 10, 2004, 9:42 AM

Post #3 of 19 (4033 views)

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Re: [Carron] displaced tenants

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What makes this deal work for us is that the family that is residing on the property isn't always there. Over the years they have accumulated wealth (no one in the family works though they visit folks up in the hills of rural Guerrero State, you figure it out) and have other properties with homes built on them. It shouldn't be a big deal.
Alex


ronau

Feb 10, 2004, 8:02 PM

Post #4 of 19 (3987 views)

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Re: [alex .] a convoluted land deal

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Our notario saved us a couple of times when we were looking for land. In each case we thought we had found the greatest deal. In the first case it turns out the sweet lady selling her cute little rental house didn't actually own it. Her husband owned it and he had been in the U.S. for several years and had stopped sending her money so she thought she would just sell his house and keep the money. Unfortunately for her it was in his name only. The second time it turns out the "owner" was actually an agent for the real owner who lived 4 hours away in Mexico City. When it turned out that we wouldn't accept a handwritten transfer of deed (actually very common among the people in this area who often can't afford to do it the legal way) the owner upped his price greatly to compensate for "all the trouble he would now have to go through now". We declined to deal with him. In the long run it all worked out. After all these false starts another piece of property became available and it was actually exactly what we wanted and legal too. It can't be over-emphasized how important it is to really check out a property before you buy it.


Jerry@Ajijic

Feb 11, 2004, 6:53 AM

Post #5 of 19 (3961 views)

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Re: [ronau] a convoluted land deal

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The same is true in the states which is why most people get title insurance. I have seen some very upset people. One poor lady was in her 60s, had been born in a house. was a only child and had lived there all of her life. When she wanted a small loan to do some repair work we found that her mother had not ever legally owned the property.


Uncle Jack


Feb 11, 2004, 7:47 AM

Post #6 of 19 (3948 views)

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Re: [Jerry@Ajijic] a convoluted land deal

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Jerry;

You really floored me with this one. I know that there a lot of very unusual anomalies in Mexican real estate, but how could someone and their family live in a house owned by someone else for 60 years rent free? That's my kind of landlord.

Sounds like one Hell of an interesting story.

uj


pat

Feb 11, 2004, 8:24 AM

Post #7 of 19 (3935 views)

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Re: [Uncle Jack] a convoluted land deal

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We here in SC are often faced with a situation where members of a family (most often African-American descendents of slaves) may have lived for several generations on a piece of property that has been passed down without benefit of a will. The property is referred to as Heir's property, and it can be very difficult to obtain marketable title for it.

Often, the family will let the taxes expire on it, and then bid for it at the tax sale. There is an unwritten agreement among the locals that if a property is heir's property, and if a member of the family is bidding for the property, no one else will offer a competing bid. Kinda risky, but one way to get marketable title.

I should note that there have been times when outsiders have come down and bid against family members, hoping for a quick and easy profit Needless to say, they are not usually extended that famed hospitality Southerners are normally noted for. :)


Carron

Feb 11, 2004, 9:09 AM

Post #8 of 19 (3929 views)

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Re: [ronau] a convoluted land deal

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I had been assured before I ever met a Mexican notario that they were generally knowledgeable and well respected. In the several dealings I have subsequently had with them, I have found it to be true. They don't seem to suffer from the bad-mouthing lawyers frequently do. The ones we have used, mostly for real estate matters, have been honest, helpful, and affordable.


alex .

Feb 11, 2004, 9:55 AM

Post #9 of 19 (3919 views)

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Re: [Jerry@Ajijic] title insurance is unavailable in Mexico

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and there is no escrow. I asked. And I wouldn't be so quick to trust just any ol Notario, I had bad dealings with one in Tijuana (#9), but did well with #6 and #8. I guess 2 outta 3 isn't bad?
Alex


jennifer rose

Feb 11, 2004, 10:39 AM

Post #10 of 19 (3904 views)

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Re: [Jerry@Ajijic] a convoluted land deal

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Title insurance isn't written all over Mexico.

But then once upon a time I came from a state where people could possibly face serious jail time just for mentioning the term. You see, back in Iowa, buyers relied upon an attorney's title opinion. Yes, indeed, a mere mortal of an attorney read the abstract of title and rendered an opinion about the merchantability of title.

Now, while there's an occasional rotten egg in every bunch, a notario publico in Mexico is a notch about your rank-and-file attorney. At least the notario occupies a quasi-judicial office, which means that he or she is a better friend of the governor than your average lawyer.


Jerry@Ajijic

Feb 11, 2004, 8:54 PM

Post #11 of 19 (3855 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] a convoluted land deal

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Jennifer,

I too used my attorney's title opinions but then he died and it seemed that his opinion wasn't always quite correct. I did get out of the problem this caused but it cost. After that I always required title insurance. Another little dandy we had where I came from was, if you lived in a "flood prone" area you had to get flood insurance.. That really upset a lot of people........"it's never flooded here"....etc


tony


Feb 13, 2004, 7:56 PM

Post #12 of 19 (3807 views)

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Re: [alex .] bigger problem than title insurance

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Alex,
From what I understand, ejido land is gov't land that
must be used by the people it was assigned to.
Technically even these people don't own the property.
It is virtually impossible to legally sell title even if you are the original "owner". I know of plenty of
Mexicans that have "purchased" ejido land and
use it. However they really don't own it. A notario
should be able to verify the status of the property.

How is it that you don't know about ejido land?

PS What does title insurance do in the US?

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."


Jerry@Ajijic

Feb 13, 2004, 8:27 PM

Post #13 of 19 (3801 views)

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Re: [tony] bigger problem than title insurance

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In the US, title insurance lets you sleep at night. Your insurance guarantees that you have good title to your property and will "do whatever is necessary" to protect your having a clear title. In case something comes up that they can not resolve. In that case they have to imdemnify you up to the amount of your title policy.


shoe


Feb 14, 2004, 1:39 AM

Post #14 of 19 (3788 views)

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Re: [Jerry@Ajijic] bigger problem than title insurance

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A title search usually is only for the last 40 years of the titled property. If there were problems with it before that it may not turn up in a title search. Title insurance is somthing that is good but doesn't remove all risk. There is some variation in this from state to state.

shoe

Nothing is intrinsically good or evil, but its manner of usage may make it so.
-St. Thomas Aquinas


Jerry@Ajijic

Feb 14, 2004, 6:02 AM

Post #15 of 19 (3775 views)

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Re: [shoe] bigger problem than title insurance

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Shoe, You are right about different states having different laws/rules just like here in Mexico.
In Florida a title insurance policy was just that. A policy that guaranteed the owner and usually also the mortgagee, if there was one, that they owned the property. The only exception as far as I know was fraud in the inception.


tony


Feb 15, 2004, 8:24 AM

Post #16 of 19 (3720 views)

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Re: [Jerry@Ajijic] bigger problem than title insurance

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Hello,
I have to admit I asked a question I already knew the answer to - to show a point. That title insurance merely compensates you if the property title turns out to be someone elses. While the compensation
makes it easier to swallow, it does not guarantee title. Title insurance does not overide legal ownwership documents. A notario's job in Mexico is to verify the status of the title - the difference being if he/she is wrong there is no compensation.

"We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are."


alex .

Feb 16, 2004, 7:38 AM

Post #17 of 19 (3666 views)

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Re: [tony] yea, I know about ejido land

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and to the best of my knowledge these parcels haven't been regularized.
Alex


jrice

Feb 16, 2004, 8:20 PM

Post #18 of 19 (3605 views)

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Re: [pat] a convoluted land deal

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Here's another twist. When my wife was a child, their nanny lived in a house owned by a priest, who died, apparently intestate. She still lives there. Nobody knows who really owns the place. I suppose that's one advantage of laws favorting the renter. I suppose the city will end up with the place. But who knows?


jennifer rose

Feb 16, 2004, 9:04 PM

Post #19 of 19 (3600 views)

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Re: [jrice] a convoluted land deal

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About 10 years ago, we bought a similar property owned by a priest who'd died intestate two decades before. A modest investment in legal fees and patience, during a little over a year's worth of litigation to close two estates, dealing with two teams of battling heirs, brought us clear title. Some of the heirs stripped the property of a statue of the Virgen (which was supposed to be my fee for my role), and others used the cochera to deposit 4' worth of trash. We traded the use of my vigas to a guy with a dump truck to come and clean up the mess. The tenants gracefully moved out without any problems.


But in the long run, it was worth it, because we really wanted the property. Now, if everyone in town would only stop calling it "Padre Alfaro's House!"

Moral: There's a solution to everything. Most of the time.
 
 
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