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    When someone buys property, there are often two types of deeds involved. The first is usually a grant deed which transfers the interest of the seller in the property to the buyer. If there is no mortgage on the property and the buyer pays cash, this may be the only deed involved. This deed is almost always recorded with the County Recorder to give notice that the property has changed hands and to identify the new owner.

    In the great majority of real estate transactions, however, the buyer borrows money from a third party to pay off the seller. Since the third party, usually a bank or other lending institution, wants security for their money, the buyer is required to execute the second type of deed. It is called a deed of trust because the buyer (known as the trustor) "irrevocably grants and conveys to Trustee (usually a title company), in trust, with power of sale" the property they just bought. The trustee has the ability to foreclose on and sell the property for the lender (the beneficiary of the trust deed) if the buyer does not meet her obligations under the mortgage. Deeds of trust are also recorded so that anyone wanting to buy the property knows that there is an outstanding mortgage that would have to be paid off or assumed as part of the purchase.

    When the property owner (who may not be the original buyer) refinances or pays off the original mortgage, the third type of deed is executed, a deed of reconveyance. With this document, the trustee or the lender grants back to the original borrower the "power to sell" that had been conveyed in the Deed of Trust. Deeds of reconveyance can be confusing. If property owners assume an existing mortgage at time of purchase, the deed of reconveyance recorded when that assumed mortgage is paid off will come in the name of the original borrower, the person whose mortgage was assumed. Thus, if Frank Jones signed a mortgage in 1969 and Sally Smith bought the house from Frank Jones and assumed the mortgage in 1987, in 1999, when Sally makes the last payment, the deed of reconveyance will be in Frank Jonesís name. In the same way, John and Julie Connor bought property as husband and wife in 1969 and signed a mortgage. They divorced in 1991, with Julie getting the house. In 1999 when Julie makes the last payment on the 1969 mortgage, the deed of reconveyance will be issued in both John and Julieís names. In neither case does either Frank Jones or John Connor have any interest in the respective properties since they grant deeded or quitclaimed away all interest in the property in 1987 and 1991 respectively. If a homeowner has paid off a mortgage and wants to know if the deed of reconveyance has been filed, she may have to check the County Recorderís Grantor/Grantee index in the names of former owners of the property if a mortgage has been assumed.

Should you have any questions please contact Napa County Assessor-Recorder John Tuteur
at 707.253.4459 or by e-mail





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