Escrow & Title Attorneys in Fort Lauderdale
If you are buying or selling a home in South Florida, you will face certain mandatory steps. Once a buyer makes an offer, and the seller either counteroffers or accepts, a purchase agreement will be signed. In almost all cases, a deposit must be given to an escrow agent, who will oversee the account and the documentation related to it. Once these funds are deposited, either the lender (or the real estate agent in a cash transaction) will try to obtain title information from the buyer's attorney. At Stok Kon + Braverman, our lawyers can help with every step of a property transaction, including escrow and title.
Understanding Escrow & Title
In Florida, when a real estate broker receives funds or items of value from someone interested in buying or selling real estate, the funds or items of value need to be placed into a trust account, insured escrow account, bank, credit union, or title company. This must happen, at the latest, by the end of the third business day after the person receives the funds or items to be deposited.
The buyer's attorney will order documents that contain important information about the property and conduct a title examination. The title is a legal document indicating ownership, and it is transferred from a seller of real estate to a buyer. The lawyer will also order an independent title search from an insurance underwriter, who can verify that the seller owns the property and that there are no encumbrances on the property, such as liens or contracts that might interfere with the transfer. Once a report is obtained, the attorney starts a title examination. The lawyer will issue a title commitment to the buyer and the lender, based on the information in the title report.
Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA)
A prospective buyer needs the title examination to make sure that the seller has clear or marketable title to the real estate being transferred. The Marketable Record Title Act (MRTA), as set forth in Florida Statutes § 712.04, provides a shortened method of title examination.
Marketable record title is supposed to be free and clear of all interests, claims, estates, and charges that depend on any act, omission, event, or title transaction that happened before the effective date of the root of title. Anyone who has the legal capacity to own land and has been vested with ownership in land for 30 years or more is considered to have a marketable record title to that land, which is free of all claims except for certain exceptions in connection with marketability.
Under the MRTA, an attorney will follow a process to find a root of title that is at least 30 years old, although the actual root of title will probably be more than 30 years old. In other words, the MRTA process shortens the examination process in connection with claims older than the root of title.
In effect, MRTA created a statute of limitations for claims, streamlining the title examination process and eliminating the possibility of excessively old defects. A title transaction that is going to be used as a root of title must include a recorded instrument or court proceeding that affects title, a sufficient description of the land, and the creation or transfer of a claimed estate, as well as being of record for at least 30 years.
For many people, the purchase or sale of real estate is one of the most expensive transactions of their lives. The lawyers at Stok Kon + Braverman can provide you with experienced legal counsel in connection with escrow and title. Our attorneys have represented homeowners, condo owners, landlords, tenants, business owners, property management companies, and private equity lenders. We serve clients throughout Broward County.