Legal Question in Real Estate Law in California

Is there a recorse I can take to get my house back. I signed a deed 5 years ago, now the buyer claims he can't get a mortgage in his name. Everything is still in mine. County Records, insurance and mortgage. Now I have found out why. He is using my house for serious illegal activities!

What can I do to get this house back legally?


Asked on 7/04/13, 4:55 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

John Laurie Gertz and Laurie

This is confusing. Why has this been going on for 5 years? Why did you give the deed over to the buyer without getting paid. There has to be more to the story. As the deed has not been recorded, perhaps you can get it back from the buyer before it is recorded.

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Answered on 7/04/13, 5:03 pm

Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

There has to be way more to your story than you are telling us. People don't sell property then get it back, that is a scam.

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Answered on 7/04/13, 5:06 pm
Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Well, I'm doubtful that getting the deed back before it is recorded would be of much help. A deed's work is done when it is delivered, at least insofar as the grantor and grantee are concerned, and giving it back, burning it up, or shredding it into bits does nothing to un-do the transfer of ownership that occurred when the deed was delivered. See, e.g., Civil Code section 1058, which reads, "Redelivering a grant of real property to the grantor, or canceling it, does not operate to retransfer the title." Also, unrecorded instruments are fully effective as to the parties thereto, and others with actual or constructive knowledge thereof. Civil Code section 1217.

Now, down to brass tacks. If things are pretty much as you say, and there are no serious and contrary facts omitted from your brief description of the situation, there's probably a remedy under which you can either get your house back or get a judgment for significant money damages.

The first possibility that came to mind would be a suit for "cancellation of instrument," which is authorized by Civil Code section 3412, and can be used to cancel deeds obtained by fraud, and nondisclosure of an intent to use the property for an illegal purpose would probably qualify as a sufficient fraud. There might turn out to be other fraudulent misrepresentations and failures to disclose in the transaction.

There are other possible causes of action (legal claims) that might result in restoration of ownership to you, including breach of the purchase contract, quiet-title, and perhaps others, depending upon additional facts that may be present.

Frankly, I somewhat agree with Mr. Roach that the situation seems unlikely and that there must have been a great deal of amateurism in documenting and closing this "sale" transaction. Properly-handled closings don't result in unrecorded deeds, nor do sellers normally go on enduring the mortgage and insurance costs. However, there may be a rational explanation that shows that you were duped and defrauded, and not some kind of co-conspirator.

I'm a former resident and business person in Eureka, and I'm particularly interested in unusual real estate ownership problems. If you'd be interested in further free consultations, possibly leading to representation, please feel free to contact me directly.

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Answered on 7/04/13, 6:41 pm

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