Volume 14 Number 3
Title Tips by Tute
Tute is concerned that this column may offend. As such, I beg your indulgence in advance, and trust that you will reflect on the merits, if any, of my diatribe, and not on the defects in presentation. Such a social relapse is not unknown, and was pointed out over 120 years ago:
“He ... walked the banks apart, a thing of misogyny, in a suit of flannel.” - Herman Charles Merivale, Faucit of Balliol, 1882.
Tute had occasion recently to reflect on the ease with which women can perpetuate fraud in the sale of real estate. I may be accused of lacking respect for women for such a statement; if so, so be it. My defense is that our patriarchal society provides women with a unique set of tools with which (knowingly or unknowingly) to bewitch and befuddle the title examiner, to pour smoke over the clarity a well constructed chain of title can bring to a real estate title . . . and this, despite the fact that seemingly a large majority of examiners and underwriters share the same gender.
Let me attempt to explain.
Imagine, if you will two single persons interested in owning real estate, young, foolish, debt free, and yearning to invest in the perfect home. Let’s call owner #1 Fannie, and owner #2 Freddie; after all, almost everyone else does.
Born to eccentric southern aristocracy, Fannie’s birth name was Federal National Mortgage Association, but her sister (or was it her aunt?) Government National Mortgage Association (affectionately known in the family as Ginnie Mae) tossed formality to the winds shortly after first changing her diaper (discretion, modesty, and the promise of an unlimited supply of key lime pie any time I visit prevent the release of any further details). Now that I think on it, I’m pretty sure it was her aunt; her sister, who is a professional student, is Student Loan Marketing Association (Sallie Mae).
But to get on with my story, let’s follow through some of the trials and tribulations of Fannie’s life. When Fannie purchased her first home, she took title as Fannie Mae Association, and financed the acquisition with a deed of trust. Shortly thereafter, she met Freddie. His family was equally eccentric, as his birth name was Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. He was called Freddie early on to avoid confusion with his uncle Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, known in the family as Farmer Mac. With similar backgrounds, interests and styles, they soon fell in love, and after a brief engagement were married.
Weddings and honeymoons (to say nothing of redecorating) being expensive, Fannie took out an equity line on her home. In the hurtling economy of the early 2000s, the “low doc/no doc” lender prepared a deed of trust in the name of Fannie Mac and Freddie Mac, her husband; recorded it, and (unintentionally, I am sure) set the stage for the sub-prime crisis of the later 2000s. Needless to say, all did not remain rosy in paradise; Freddie and Fannie found their common interests no longer enough to sustain their relationship, and divorce followed. Being proud in her eccentricity, Fannie resumed her maiden name. Being beaten about the head and shoulders by the economy, she and her purchase money lender agreed that she would relinquish her home by deed in lieu of foreclosure. After a thorough title examination, the lender accepted the deed, and the keys.
Alas, alack, Allan a Dale (do you remember him from Robin Hood?), the purchase money lender did not make payments on the second, and upon the cessation of monthly payments to reduce the additional debt, that lender advised it would begin foreclosure proceedings.
Herewith lies the condemnation of our patriarchal society. Upon marriage, Fannie’s name changed. Upon divorce, it was changed back. The second lender’s deed of trust was from Mrs. Mac, and while the draftsmanship that failed to note “formerly known as” in the indexing paragraph was deplorable, it was accurate. One horrible thought (back to the record room as soon as I finish this column) . . . what if there is another lien out there in her birth name? I didn’t run Federal Association, only Fannie Mae Association.
Now could Freddie get away with this? Theoretically, I suspect he could . . . it is not unheard of for newlyweds to hyphenate both their names, nor for the husband to adapt the wife’s name, but it certainly is not the usual practice. About the most trouble Freddie can give an examiner is running up bills in the logical names . . . Federal, Freddie(y), Fred, Frederic(k), Ric(k), Rickie(y), and maybe Frank, Felix or Richard. He is stuck with the Mac moniker. (oops, back to the record room, just in case he incurred liability in his birth name - Corporation)
Having created antipathy towards myself by a large majority of the industry (extrapolating from our office, something on the order of 80%), I again offer my apologies, and this heartfelt plea:
Baby, do you understand me now Sometimes I feel a little mad But don't you know that no one alive Can always be an angel When things go wrong I seem to be bad But I'm just a soul whose intentions are good Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood1
Let’s All be careful out there.
1 B.Benjamin, S.Marcus and G.Caldwell, “Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood” (1965), made famous by Eric Burdon and The Animals on a single and later the album Animal Tracks (MGM Rrecords).
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