Title search, MERS and California
11-13-2011 07:58 AM
We're currently in the process of purchasing a short-sale property in So Cal (with an all-cash transaction). We've reached an agreement on purchase price with Bank of America and an "investor," but when I asked our RE agent to recommend a good RE attorney (to generally review final contracts...and to discuss legal title specifically), we were told that "We actually do not use attorneys in CA unless there is a legal action on a real estate transaction. The escrow officer will handle title and there is a title officer who will be your advocate."
Now, I've been reading quite a bit lately about the problems arising from the MERS system with respect to chain of title and the widespread selling of mortgage-backed securities. My understanding is that in some cases, at least, it's not entirely clear who has legal ownership of some properties as a result of the electronic transfers of mortgage ownership among bank and investors all-too-common transfers of to banks, trusts, and investment vehicles via the MERS system.
So my question is: would it be advisable to consult an attorney anyways...simply to ensure that once we hand over this considerable amount of cash, that we'll actually have legal ownership of the property?
We only moved to Calif a few years ago, and frankly, the idea that purchases of RE in Calif generally don't involve an attorney surprises me...especially considering that (at least on our case) it's such a major purchase for most folks. In our case, we're putting a very significant percentage of our life savings into this purchase...so I obviously want to be sure that we'll actually own the property when the transaction is complete. Or agent seems to claiming that an "escrow officer" and "title officer" will be involved , but it's not clear to me whether they're employees of Bank of America or independent operators...and frankly, if the "title officer" IS an employee of BofA, I'd be skeptical that he or she is truly an "advocate" for us.
Any advice from those who are knowledgable in regards to title search and RE transactions (particularly in Calif) would be greatly appreciated.