Paul and Anita Richardson purchased a 1.26 acre tract of land ("main property") from Old Fort Golf Course in 1962 and then in 1978 purchase two adjacent parcels consisting of 0.181 acres and 0.009 acres ("adjacent properties"). All three parcels had the same mailing address and tax parcel identification number.
In 2009, the Richardsons obtained a reverse mortgage in the amount of $297,000 to build a home on the 1.26 acres, but the Deed of Trust only contained a metes and bounds description of the adjacent properties, accompanied by four general descriptions including "a part of those certain lands described in the 1960 Deed conveying over 100 acres to Old Fort Golf Course, "subject to those certain restrictions" recording in the 1978 Deed, known as "the improvements thereon better know as [located at the mailing address], and "BEING all and the same lot of ground which by Deed dated 5 October 1978, and recorded among the Land Record of McDowell County, North Carolina in Liber 278, folio 822 was granted and conveyed by Old Fort Golf Course, Inc." unto the Richardsons.
After the deaths of Paul and Anita Richardson, the three properties were left to her daughter Donna Edmisten. Reverse Mortgage Solutions commenced foreclosure in April 2018, conveying the adjacent properties to Reverse Mortgage Solutions. That Deed only included the metes and bounds description for the adjacent properties but did include the mailing address, the description of improvements and the PIN.
On July 28,2018, Donna Edmisten conveyed the main property to the Dufaults. In June 2020, Reverse Mortgage Solutions brought an action seeking quiet title against the Dufaults, arguing that the main property was also subject to the Deed of Trust. The trial court dismissed the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) and Reverse Mortgage Solutions appealed.
The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal holding that “only when the specific description is ambiguous, or insufficient, or there is a reference to a fuller or more accurate description, that the general description is allowed to control.” Lee v. McDonald, 230 N.C. 517, 521, 53 S.E.2d 845, 848 (1949).
It distinguished this case from Bank of America, N.A. v. Schmitt, 263 N.C. App. 19, 20, 823 S.E.2d 396, 397 (2018), where the Schmitts owned two contiguous tracts of land, Tract B and Tract C, with two separate addresses and obtained a construction loan from the bank to build a home on Tract B. There the Deed of Trust was held to attach to Tract B even though it only included a metes and bounds description for Tract C, since the reference to the address to Tract B as well. That was sufficient evidence of the intention that Tract B also be included.
Here, however, the four general descriptions in the Deed of Trust were consistent (or at least not ambiguous) with the specific description of the adjacent properties.
These flawed description cases almost always seem to involve golf courses or reverse mortgages, so this was a double whammy.
For reference sake, 0.009 acres is roughly 400 square feet, so the size of a small bathroom
For a copy of the opinion, please see: