One of the main dysfunctions that led to Nevada’s real estate crisis lies in how the paperwork was handled when transferring ownership of a property from one person to another. During the housing bubble, paperwork was pushed through so fast that critical errors occurred that could affect the marketability or ownership of many properties. During good times, nobody complained because housing values were rising steadily and people could make money easily by selling or “flipping” properties quickly. However, now that the bubble has burst leaving people stuck in underwater homes, unable to make payments, and with foreclosure looming; the process of transferring ownership or “chain of title” has come under scrutiny. Nevada’s new legislation, specifically AB 284 (http://www.blacklobellolaw.com/2011/07/ab-284-restores-foreclosure-process/), forces foreclosing lenders to provide some additional documentation to proceed with more diligence. Homeowners should do their best to become aware of and comfortable with the property records recorded against their property, especially in default. This information is important to ensure that defaulting homeowners are dealing with the proper parties and apprised of any discrepancies that may be useful through the short sale, loan modification, or foreclosure process. Fortunately for the homeowner, this information is readily available, as follows.
Simple instructions to view your property records or “chain of title.”
(1) Obtain Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) from the Clark County Assessor's website (http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/assessor).
1. Click “Property Records” on the left-hand side.
2. Click “Owner Name” in the middle of the page.
3. Enter the homeowner’s proper first and last name as they would appear on the deed. Click “Search.”
4. From the property records provided, find the homeowner’s name and click on the Parcel Number.
5. This will give you the Real Property Parcel Record. Make sure the property address is correct and copy down the Parcel Number.
(2) Now that you have your APN, you can obtain your chain of title by visiting the Clark County Recorder's website (http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/recorder).
1. Click “Search Records” on the left-hand side.
2. Click “Parcel #.”
3. Enter your APN in the “Parcel #” field at the top and click “Search.”
The resulting page should include a list of documents recorded against the property including deeds, homesteads, deeds of trust (Nevada’s typical type of “mortgage”), liens, and foreclosure notices (Notices of Default/Notices of Sale, etc.).\* A sample Clark County Recorder’s Page is pictured below.
\*While this is a good place to look for discrepancies, this information may not always be up-to-date or even accurate. It is possible that the County Recorder’s webpage does not reflect all or even the latest developments in a particular property’s ownership. Other difficulties may arise if documents were not recorded, or the property was substituted or reconveyed to/from Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc. (MERS) (http://www.blacklobellolaw.com/2012/01/did-mers-mess-up-everything/), the third-party deed recording company formed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Its records are not open to the public and may not be visible on the County Recorder’s webpage. Many other circumstances exist in which the steps above may not provide an accurate account of all recordings on a particular property and, as stated in the Notice below, the information found herein or on the websites referenced above should not be relied upon without separate and appropriate advise of counsel. Nevertheless, the process described above is a good start and can help homeowners stay informed as to the overall status of their property.