I have a seller who, I believe, is not the only owner of the property to be sold. How do I determine the identity of the other owners of the property to be sold?
As a closing attorney, once we receive a title request we immediately contact the buyers and sellers to obtain personal information to assist us in our records search. I can’t tell you how many times we call the seller listed on the purchase agreement to obtain their personal information only to find out there are brothers, sisters, or other persons that are co-owners of the property who did not sign the listing agreement and who did not sign the purchase agreement.
According to La. R.S. 37:1431(30), a listing agreement shall only be valid if signed by all owners or their authorized attorney in fact.
So, the law tells us we need to locate the other owners of a property to list and sell the property.
Some questions that a real estate agent might ask his or her “seller-client” are:
- Does anyone else own the property with you?
- Does anyone in your family have an ownership interest in the property?
- How did you acquire the property?
- Who owned the property before you?
- Did the previous owner give all or a portion of the property to someone else?
You could also look at the tax assessor’s website to determine who pays taxes on the property. Sometimes additional names of “owners” pop up in the tax records. (As a quick caveat, the tax assessor doesn’t always list the correct owner in their tax records. So, please compare the information you get from the tax assessor with your “seller-client.”)
If you still can’t get any information on whether there are other owners of the property, please contact a local title attorney for assistance. If you have a good relationship with a local title attorney, they should be willing to do a quick research of the Court records to determine if there are other owners of the property listed in the Court records.
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H.L. “Rye” Tuten, III, is a Title Attorney/Real Estate Closing Attorney and Owner of Tuten Title & Escrow, LLC. Formerly assigned by RICE Insurance to defend real estate agents throughout Acadiana, much of his more than nine years’ litigation experience is with real estate concerns.