I purchased a house in Iowa 2 years ago and the realtor said HE has the title abstract and that Iowa is one of the few states that uses these and that only HE can save me money.
When I purchased my house, and the title abstract was prepared for my purchase isn't it my abstract? And when I go to sell my house would the old abstract still be good or would I need a updated abstract?
Normally, yes, when you purchase a property, the abstract (or abstract of title, not "title abstract") is yours.
And yes, the abstract will need to be updated when you sell.
The comments listed here are of a general nature and are not offered to create a formal attorney-client relationship -- that is, I am not, and I cannot give you legal advice here. I am Iowa licensed and, to become your attorney, I need to understand the particular facts and circumstances of your legal question and most likely meet you face to face.
An abstract of title is a bit of valuable personal property. The ownership and possession of the abstract is affected by both custom and contract. Your right to receive the abstract as a part of the purchase of the real estate is probably covered in the purchase agreement you probably had with your seller when you bought the real property. Custom and contract usually dictate that the real property buyer gets ownership and possession of the personal property, the updated abstract, at the closing on the real property. Yes, it is valuable and important, and yes, you are likely to need it when you sell the real property because--again--custom and contract probably will require that you provide the personal property, an updated abstract, to your buyer.
I'm not sure why the real estate agent would want to hang on to the abstract other than the agent has a financial interest in an abstracting business and does not want the business of the next abstract continuation going to a competitor. Most real estate professionals (lawyers, bankers, real estate agents, abstractors) can't get them out of their offices fast enough.
Suggestions: Check your purchase contract for your right to ownership and possession. Actually, go in and tell the agent you want it. Failing that, talk to the attorney that assisted in the purchase or an attorney of your choosing -- and be willing to pay for his or her assistance if you cannot accomplish the task on your own -- to make the demand for this valuable property.
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My guess is your real estate agent has a financial interest in an abstract company. Absent an extremely peculiar circumstance, the abstract belongs to you. You real estate agent is correct that most states do not require abstracts--maybe Oklahoma is another? Almost certainly you will need the abstract when you sell. The way it works is that the abstractor will add pages to your abstract to show any changes, such as any mortgages, releases, conveyances, etc. If your real estate agent is reluctant to give it to you, a request from an attorney should be sufficient to pry it loose from his grip.
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