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Real Estate Broker/Owner with Mackintosh REALTORS 82894

Back in 2017 I listed three islands in the Potomac River  consisting of 108 acres between Clear Spring, Maryland, and Falling Waters, West Virginia.

After tremendous publicity in the media for a unique listing the State of Maryland submitted a letter of intent to purchase the land. During their extensive title search they uncovered that in the early 1900s one-half of the interest in the property was sold to Western Maryland Railway to build piers for a bridge.

The sale was never recorded in the Washington County land records or reflected on the state tax card information. My Seller purchased the islands back in the 1980s as a novelty purchase and did not think title insurance was necessary since the property had transferred a few times without any issues.

Sometime in the 1980s Western Maryland Railway was acquired by CSX. My Seller approached CSX to clear up the issue with the title, however they have been unwilling to work with him to try and complete the sale with the State of Maryland. After CSX was notified about the issue a few months later their name appeared on the tax card. Upon discovering this and not having authorization or the proper signatures from the current owners on my listing contract, I told my Seller I could no longer keep the property for sale. I promptly removed the property from the MLS and told him to please let me know once the deed dispute has been resolved.
So the moral of the story is always recommended to a purchaser; spend the extra dollars for the title insurance policy. It may save them allot of money and time in the future!!
This is entry #1 into the ActiveRain March 2023 Challenge "March to a Solution" hosted by and Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Yes purchasing Title insurance is indeed a wise investment. Great story and no island here in Golden Valley to sell, though several washes.

Mar 06, 2023 06:57 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

Leanne Smith I learned quite a bit on this transaction. When my Seller called me to sell the island in the Potomac River I had no idea the islands in the river were privately owned. The Potomac River in our area is in the State of Maryland to the bank on the Virginia & WVA state lines.

Mar 07, 2023 03:49 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


That's quite a story. Sounds like a good learning experience despite how it turned out. As others have said this is a great example of why you need well-spent money on title insurance.


Mar 07, 2023 04:58 PM
Buzz Mackintosh

 Jeff Dowler, CRS had the Seller just spent the few extra $$ for a Title policy it would of saved us all allot of headaches!

Mar 08, 2023 10:44 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC

Hi Buzz! How fitting is your title?! Little did we know...

I'm a huge proponent of enhanced Title policies - it's one of THE most important (and inexpensive) Closing costs for EVERY buyer.

Great entry into this month's challenge, Buzz!

Mar 08, 2023 09:28 AM
Buzz Mackintosh
Mackintosh REALTORS - Frederick, MD
‚ÄúExperience, reliable, leadership‚ÄĚ

Debe Maxwell, CRS who knew that the piers on the island for a bridge that was never built would turn out to be such a landmine!ūü§Į

Mar 08, 2023 10:47 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Good advice. Buying without title insurance is foolhardy. Your story reminded me of some people I met who thought they didn't need homeowner's insurance because the house was owned free and clear.

The house was vacant, with out of state owners, and it was for sale. And their agent told them not to bother winterizing - and he didn't bother with having the road plowed so the fuel truck could get in.

You can guess the rest.

Mar 08, 2023 03:34 PM
Buzz Mackintosh

Marte Cliff  I'm sure they were saying, when it rains it pours !

Mar 08, 2023 06:08 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Oh yes Buzz - so important to have title insurance. Way back when in the late 80's it was an issue when I lived in the Flagstaff area.  What a mess it was for the agents. I learned from that, thankfully.

Mar 08, 2023 04:53 PM
Buzz Mackintosh

Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker live and learn experiences are lessons that will stick with you through out your career !

Mar 08, 2023 06:13 PM
Sharon Kowitz
Cary, NC Relocation Specialist ~ Buying or Selling

Brian England thank you for this article reminding us of how important Title Insurance is these days. In 1980 maybe a hand shake or good will wood prevail for men of honor. Today is CYA at every page or statement you make out there at every turn. We paid our home off recently but keep Title insurance for future sales and to protect up from scam artist that seem to be everywhere!

Mar 08, 2023 05:47 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Whenever I hear about people working without a contract someone was like spinning my head around backwards with bewilderment

Mar 08, 2023 08:39 PM
Buzz Mackintosh

  Laura Cerrano the State of Maryland (Government) does things a little backwards. They do an LOI and then their extensive Title search before they would draft a contract of sale to be approved by the legislature and Governor.

Mar 09, 2023 03:59 AM
Dr. Paula McDonald
Beam & Branch Realty - Granbury, TX
Granbury, TX 936-203-0279

Wow, that is a story! I cannot imagine purchasing any property without a title. Crazy.

Mar 09, 2023 08:36 AM
Buzz Mackintosh

Dr. Paula McDonald CSX would have never known they owned half of that island if it was not for the State of Maryland's extensive title search !

Mar 09, 2023 05:22 PM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Even title company often gets the run around.  Someone bought a newer home found a hole in the backyard lead to a toxic mine that was abandoned in the 1950s. 

Mar 12, 2023 08:04 AM
Edward Gilmartin
CRE - Boston, MA

In Massachusetts title insurance costs hundreds of dollars and the closing attorney sells it and gets 50% commission on it. Need to reform title insurance

Mar 14, 2023 10:53 AM
Edward Gilmartin
CRE - Boston, MA

Why is rarely used title insurance so expensive . It often costs a weekly wages of a buyer

Mar 15, 2023 12:52 PM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint-Idaho
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Good info Buzz.  Inspections, Title Ins, all corners cut some of the time that ends up costing far more than the $$$.  mdm

Mar 19, 2023 03:48 PM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

What a great story, Buzz! The very thought of listing islands for sale is exciting. Too bad things did not work out. The "owner" does not own what he thought he owned and now he can't sell it.

Mar 19, 2023 04:54 PM
Erik Hiss
Keller Williams Capital Partners Realty - Worthington, OH
You can trust me for all your real estate needs!

Title insurance is a standard and customary step here in Central Ohio for the seller to pay for. Where most of the time it seems superfluous there are specific times when it would have been a tremendous help!

Mar 22, 2023 07:11 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR¬ģ, EcoBroker, GREEN

Wow!  You went from listing islands, discovering unique title trail, and then cancelling the listing.  When a sale can't come together, much less a listing, it's always smart to take a step backward.  Great entry into the contest!  Title insurance is an often misunderstood aspect of a real estate transaction ;) 

Mar 24, 2023 10:03 AM
Doug Dawes
Keller Williams Evolution - 447 Boston Street, Suite #5, Topsfield, MA - Topsfield, MA
Your Personal Realtor¬ģ

Hi Buzz Mackintosh 

I think title insurance should be mandatory for owners of Real Estate. Your example is 1 reason why

Mar 26, 2023 02:18 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I’m sorry to hear, but it looks like you have a plan to pivot very well. Good luck with everything and all the best

Mar 26, 2023 08:15 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Kathy, I totally agree. Sometimes it just is that way, and sometimes we have to use that  waythe best of our ability.

Mar 26, 2023 08:18 PM
Dylan Gallagher
JRealty - Hawthorne, CA
Residential Property Management company serving LA

Great post Buzz! Very intriguing and informative.

Mar 27, 2023 09:42 AM