I am the concierge for my team, the Team Troy Real Estate Group. I absolutely adore what I do – My entire job is to give our clients the best customer service experience they can possibly have and make every person I meet a little better off than before we met. Sometimes that includes spending hours meeting with contractors to get competitive bids for their remodel project, handwriting multitudes of cards monthly to make sure that our clients know just how important they are to us, or handling whatever issues come up over the course of a listing or sale.
This past month this included research to find the last remaining relatives of a couple that sold a property in 1984. At that time it was not uncommon for seller’s to be the note holder on a property, like a traditional lender would today. Our clients purchased a lake cabin in Snohomish with just such an arrangement. The seller recorded the Real Estate Contract against the property to show that he was the note holder and the terms of the agreement.
When I pulled preliminary title to research our listing, we discovered the owner’s name was not our client and instead the owner of the property from the 1984 real estate contract. The Fulfillment Deed showing the contract was paid in full was never recorded. We had to look this sweet couple in the eyes and ask if they could had ever received this kind of paperwork from the owners that passed away almost 2 decades ago, since we would need it in order to sell the home.
They began their search for the paperwork, and I started working on the alternatives with the title company, which could have included a quiet title action with a real estate attorney either through a multiple month notification process, or by speaking with the previous owners or the heirs to their estate. I started with the husband’s name (as he owned the property as his separate estate when he sold it to our clients) and went from there. Here’s what I found out.
The former owner’s full name took a while to track down, as did the wife’s, who passed away in 1994 (both were abbreviated on the real estate contract on title). With her death records, I found a probate filing, which contained the company that handled the escrow payment account for them at the time of her passing. This company was a small, private note firm in Tacoma that ceased operations in 1999. I found the name of the former president of the company and his home phone number just in case we needed an affidavit saying that the property was paid in full under his tenure.
I found the husband’s death records in March of 2000. He and his wife are both buried in Tahoma National Cemetery, as he was a WWII Army veteran. His family never filed for probate or lack thereof upon his passing, so it took a while to find out if they had any children. I found a name on one website of a possible daughter, however all records of her disappeared in the 1950’s. Through more digging I found her first married name, her second married name, and her death notice in 2007 up in Skagit County.
I started searching to see if she had any children. After many hours of further digging, I found a woman with the same last name as her first husband. I contacted this woman through ancestry.com, and when we were finally able to connect by phone, we had a lovely conversation about her mother and grandparents. She remembers learning how to fish with her grandpa on the lake in that little cabin. She was so kind in offering to be of assistance in whatever way we needed, since her uncle had passed away several years before, making her the oldest living heir. Although we did not end up needing her to clear the title, it was great to connect with her. I was also able to pass along her grandmother’s death certificate from my research, which contained the names of her great grandparents so she could continue researching her family tree (the reason I was able to find her on ancestry.com).
This is not an every day type of thing I get to do, though it is one of the many things that make my job interesting and fun.
Team Troy Concierge