by Andrew Getty
After Hurricane Katrina, many affected residents were challenged with the task of tracing titles to their homes, and in some cases back hundreds of years.
With a community rich with history, stretching back over two centuries, houses have been passed along through generations of families, sometimes making it quite difficult to establish ownership.
Some properties had never had a title search or a transfer of title, because it had always been in the family and passed along.
Here’s a great story about an attorney trying to obtain an FHA loan for his client to rebuild after the flood. Based on an actual situation, the attorney wrote back to the FHA. You have to love this lawyer.
The FHA loan application required satisfactory proof of title to the parcel of land being offered as collateral to the loan.
It took the lawyer three months to track down the full title to the property, which dated back to 1803.
After sending the information back to the FHA, the attorney received the following reply.
FHA: “Upon review of your letter adjoining your client’s loan application, we note that the request is supported by an Abstract of Title.
“While we compliment the able manner in which you have prepared and presented the application, we must point out that you have only cleared title to the proposed collateral property back to 1803.
“Before final approval can be accorded, it will be necessary to clear the title back to its origin.”
Just a little annoyed and somewhat amazed, the attorney responded as follows:
“Your letter regarding title in Case No.189156 has been received. I note that you wish to have title extended further than the 206 years covered by the present application.
“I was unaware that any educated person in this country, particularly those working in the property area, would not know that Louisiana was purchased by the United States from France, in 1803 the year of origin identified in our application.
“For the edification of uninformed FHA bureaucrats, the title to the land prior to U.S. ownership was obtained from France, which had acquired it by Right of Conquest from Spain.
“The land came into the possession of Spain by Right of Discovery made in the year 1492 by a sea captain named Christopher Columbus, who had been granted the privilege of seeking a new route to India by the Spanish monarch, Queen Isabella.
“The good Queen Isabella, being a pious woman and almost as careful about titles as the FHA, took the precaution of securing the blessing of the Pope before she sold her jewels to finance the Columbus expedition.
“Now, the Pope, as I’m sure you may know, is the emissary of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and God, it is commonly accepted, created this world. Therefore, I believe it is safe to presume that God also made that part of the world called Louisiana.
“God, therefore, would he be the owner of origin and His origins date back to before the beginning of time, the world as we know it, including the FHA.
“I hope you find God’s original claim to be satisfactory. Now, may we have our damn loan?”
The loan was immediately approved.
The Code Office receives dozens of title search, property history requests each year. Not so much about ownership history, but rather about potential violations and Certificates of Occupancy.
If your property is on the market pretend to be a buyer and ask for title history, certificates of occupancy and potential unresolved violations now… before a potential buyer does.
In any sales market, you want to gain the best advantage you can.
Finding this stuff now can make or break a deal. Be knowledgeable and proactive.