Case Study on the Importance of Title Searches

One of the biggest purchases you will likely ever make is when you buy a home of your own for you and your family. You may only do it once or you may do it several times in your lifetime, but anytime you are looking to buy a home you have many important decisions that will need to be made. Every step in the process of buying a home is an important one and here at True Title our goal is to help you understand the process.  “For most Americans, a home is the most expensive purchase they’ll make in their lifetime. It’s a serious transaction with significant financial and emotional ramifications for the parties involved, and having proper representation is critical” ( This is why True Title is committed to helping our clients protect the investment they are about to make and do all we can to ensure things go smoothly during and after the title transfer is complete.

The Importance of a Title Search

Before you buy a home, you will need to have a title search done to ensure that the property is free of any liens or holds and that is legal to do a title transfer and purchase the property. Ideally, the title search will establish that there are no liens or other claims on the property and the seller owns it free and clear. Should that not prove to be the case, the seller, and the title search company will work together to cure any title defects. Here at True Title, we do this on a daily basis for our clients and we can do the same for you.  However, one of the most common questions we are asked about title searches is whether or not they are actually needed and what good they do for the buyer. To answer that question, here is a brief case study on a currently active appeal that is heading to the Supreme Court over a disputed lien on a piece of property. And while this is taking place in South Dakota, it is a good example of what can happen even here in Florida and how a title search can help protect you should any issues arise with a property you recently purchased.

What the Case Entails

An appeal was made with the South Dakota Supreme Court because of a 4th Judicial Circuit Court’s June 19th dismissal of a civil case, on that was filed against the city of Belle Fourche, SD. According to papers filed with the appeal, Bingham Farms Trust, the plaintiff in the case, filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, alleging that the city of Belle Fourche attached a lien on the property after it was purchased. The Trust alleges that they performed a title search for the property and no liens or holds were detected yet after the purchase was the complete the city is now trying to lay claim to the lien. Bingham Farms Trust is requesting that the Supreme Court rule as to whether the court was wrong to grant the dismissal of the case and whether the city should be allowed to attach a lien after the title has already been transferred.

According to court documents, “Bingham Farms Trust filed a civil suit Jan. 26 against the city seeking damages regarding a lien placed on a property it purchased from Juanita Bowman on Jan. 17, 2017. The $1,374.45 lien was the result of an unpaid assessment placed on the property due to fees accrued for yard work performed by the city prior to the sale of the property. Bingham Farms Trust alleged in its complaint, dated Jan. 22, that a title search done on the property prior to its purchase of the property, located at 903 Edmunds St., in Belle Fourche, showed no liens against the property” (Black Hills Pioneer). Bingham Farms Trust claims that this lien has no merit and that the city should not be allowed to force them to pay a lien that was not on the title prior to its purchase.

The Case Against the City of Belle Fourche

The complaint alleged that even though Bingham Farms Trust has put forth multiple requests asking the city to provide proof of the lien and the validation for their claim to the lien have gone unanswered. There has yet to be any official word as to what this lien is actually in regards to, dates for the services that are being alleged to still have payments owed, the person or persons performing the service, and any legal proof that the city has a right to attach the lien to this particular piece of property.  The Trust also states that they spent a great deal of time and money on upgrades and renovations to the property in order to prepare it for future use. Now the with lien their name and reputation have been slandered and sullied in the public eye and in the eye of potential investors and partners who would have joined them in this new business venture. To this end, they are also seeking damages for slander and illegal rhetoric against them and their owned property. Bingham Farms Trust asked the court to declare the city’s lien illegal and invalid and require the city to remove the lien from the property’s title.

The City’s Side of the Story

“The city disputes Bingham Farms Trusts’ claims, saying in a statement filed with the court that the property lien was properly processed. The statement, dated April 9 and signed by Kellen Willert, one of the attorneys who represents the city, said the assessment was assigned to the property for vegetation removal. The assessment was heard by the Belle Fourche City Council during an Aug. 1, 2016, public hearing to consider the assessment roll for the 2015-2016 nuisance abatements, which no one spoke against… Following the public hearing, the council adopted a resolution approving the assessment roll, and notice of the city’s adoption of the assessment roll was published Aug. 10, 2016, edition of the Butte County Post, the city’s legal newspaper at the time, pursuant to South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) 9-43, which governs the special assessment process” (Black Hills Pioneer). The city is holding to their statement that there is a valid claim for the lien that was placed on the property, that services were rendered that have yet to be paid for, and that the owner of the title is now responsible for the lien attached to the title. They allege that the title company failed to check the title and that any results that were pulled were inaccurate and flawed.

In the Hands of the Supreme Court

According to officials involved in the case, the Supreme Court has received the appeal that was filed by the city of Belle Fourche and transcripts from the circuit court case that was dismissed have been ordered as well. Those are due by Aug. 20 to be in the hands of the Supreme Court. Once the transcripts are filed, Bingham Farms Trust, have 45 days to file their initial brief.  From there the Supreme Court will hold hearings to hear from both sides of the case and make a final ruling. This is thought to be slated for sometime in October but no clear date has been established as of yet.

True Title Helps Florida Title Searches Go Smoothly

Here at True Title, we are proud to be here for our clients when they need us. One of the most popular services we get asked about is our title searches. Many people wonder what the purpose of a title search is and whether or not it can actually make a difference. This case study shows just how important a title search is, and while this is taking place in South Dakota, it is a good example of how a title search can protect your investment. Without a title search having been run on the property, there would be no legal ground for the plaintiff to stand on and fight what may very well be an illegal lien placed on the property. Their title search results show no liens present and give them ground to fight – without that search, they would be totally at the mercy of what the city says they owe on that lien.  So make sure you give yourself as much protection as you can against cases like this by calling True Title today and let us run a title search for you!

True Title, Inc.
507 Longfellow Court, Unit D,
Safety Harbor, FL 34695
Phone: 877-785-8792
Fax: 888-831-0301