No Title Insurance for Encroachment

By Christopher Combs | June 9, 2024

Question: We bought a home in Anthem with a “clean” title insurance policy.  A few months after we moved into the home, we noticed that the block wall in our backyard on our property between us and our neighbor was collapsing. The collapsing was due to the neighbor’s landscaping that encroaches onto our property. Our title company says that our title policy only covers the legal ownership of the property that we own, and that there is no dispute as to the legal ownership of our property. Further, our title company says that we could have paid for an endorsement…


Wrongful Release of Earnest Money to Buyer by Title Company

By Christopher Combs | May 19, 2024

Question: My husband is a USAF jet pilot. We were stationed at Luke AFB for three years, but we were recently transferred to Eglin AFB in Florida. We temporarily are living in base housing, but we wanted to buy a home as soon as possible after the sale of our Glendale home. When we moved to Florida our Glendale home was in escrow for $528,000 with a $40,000 earnest money deposit. All contingencies have now been fulfilled, including financing. The buyer (an LLC investor) now refuses to close escrow because a short term rental buyer just bought the home next…


Need Title Insurance Policy If Any Dispute as to the Ownership of Disputed Property

By Christopher Combs | March 17, 2024

Question: We live in a subdivision in south Scottsdale. We have had the same neighbors for more than 20 years, and we have always known that the concrete block wall between our two homes encroaches two feet onto our lot. Our neighbors are now selling their home. They want us to sign a warranty deed to this two feet based on a legal description from a surveyor, and a condition of title report from their title company. We previously told our neighbors that we would sign a quit claim deed, but our neighbors say that their title company requires a…


Judgment Lien Against Principal Residence Prohibited

By Christopher Combs | July 25, 2021

Question: We are in escrow to sell our Gilbert home. When our daughter went to UCLA four years ago, we guaranteed payment of her credit card. Although our daughter is doing fine now, she dropped out of UCLA and never paid the balance on her credit card. We were sued as the guarantors of her credit card, and we now have a $30,000 credit card judgment against us. The title company says that this $30,000 credit card judgment, unless we pay it off, prevents us from selling our Gilbert home because both the buyer and the buyer’s lender need a…


No Title Insurance Coverage Generally If Home Is In Floodplain

By Christopher Combs | April 18, 2021

Question: We purchased a home on a five-acre lot near Payson. Two months after we moved into the home there was an overflow of the nearby creek which flooded our entire backyard. Apparently 25% of our five-acre lot is in the Town of Payson’s flood plain. We immediately reviewed our title insurance policy to see if there was flood coverage, or if there was an exception to title insurance for flooding. There was no reference in our title insurance policy relating to coverage for flooding, one way or the other. The seller of the home was an elderly lady who…

Title Insurance

Divorce By Publication May Be Necessary for Title Insurance

By Christopher Combs | March 21, 2021

Question: My three children and I have been living in an apartment in central Phoenix since my husband left us three years ago. My mother died last year and I recently received a cash inheritance of $225,000.00. I have now signed a $225,000 purchase contract for a Chandler home. The escrow company says that my husband has to sign the paperwork to disclaim any interest in this Chandler home. What can I do when I have no idea where my husband has been living the past three years? Answer: If only one spouse is buying a home, the title company…


Title Insurance is a Must-Buy

By Christopher Combs | May 3, 2019

Question: After my husband was out of work for almost six months last year, our credit was “shot to heck.” We cannot get a conventional mortgage loan so we are trying to buy a home in North Phoenix with seller carryback financing (i.e., the seller gives us a deed to the home and we make monthly mortgage payments to the seller). The seller says that in the twenty-five years that he has owned the home there have never been any title problems, and we should be able to save the cost of title insurance. Do we need title insurance? Answer:…


Realtor Forms Provide for General Warranty Deed from Seller

By Christopher Combs | April 1, 2019

Question:  In a recent column you discussed the differences between a special warranty deed and a general warranty deed. My understanding from your column is that in more than 90% of commercial/industrial sales, vacant lot sales, and new home sales in Arizona, the seller only furnishes the buyer with a special warranty deed. In resale home sales, however, the standard Arizona Association of Realtors Residential Resale Real Estate Purchase Contract (“AAR Resale Home Contract”) provides for a general warranty deed from the seller to the buyer. Why does this AAR Resale Home Contract provide for a general warranty deed and…