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Bar News - February 17, 2012

2011 Real Estate Title Standards Explained


The 2011 version of the New Hampshire Title Examination Standards were adopted by the Board of Governors on December 15, 2011, effective December 31, 2011. These standards are approved by the NHBA Real Property Law Section.

The Title Examination Standards were first adopted on February 5, 1954. Subsequent revisions were made and effective on February 9, 1963, January 1, 1974, June 1, 1980, January 1, 1988, January 1, 1990, January 1, 1997, July 15, 2007, December 31, 2008, December 31, 2009, December 31, 2010 and most recently on December 31, 2011.

The members of the Section’s 2011 Title Standards Committee are:
Chair: Carol Durgy Brooks, Concord, NH
James O. Barney, Sulloway & Hollis, P.L.L.C.
Heidi J. Barrett-Kitchen, Shaheen & Gordon, PA
Christopher L. Boldt, Donahue, Tucker & Ciandella, PLLC
Jacqueline Fitzgerald-Boyd, Fitzgerald-Boyd Law, LLC
Robert R. Howard, III, Robert Howard Law Office & Stonebridge Title Company LLC
Scott Kumpf, Old Republic National Title Insurance Company
Connie Boyles Lane, Orr and Reno, PA
Denis O. Robinson, Pierce Atwood, LLP
Phillip J. Stiles, TitlePro, LLC
Carol E. Willoughby, First American Title Insurance Co.
The Title Examination Standards Committee, a standing Committee of the Real Property Law Section, conducts an annual review of the existing Title Examination Standards. The Committee meets regularly to review and discuss proposed changes, including suggestions sent directly to the Committee, raised at Section meetings or submitted electronically on the Real Property listserve. As a result of the 2011 review, the Committee posted a draft of proposed revisions to the 2010 Standards on the Section’s Title Standards page of the Bar website and posted notice on the Section’s listserve on September 7, 2011. Section members had the opportunity to submit comments for a 30-day comment period ending on October 7, 2011. The Committee introduced the proposed revisions at the September 13, 2011 Section meeting. The proposed revisions were also discussed at the October 11, 2011 Section meeting. Based on comments received, revisions to the proposed Standards were posted on the Section’s listserve. At the November 8, 2011 meeting, Section members voted to approve the proposed 2011 New Hampshire Title Examination Standards as revised and requested that it be forwarded to the Board of Governors of the New Hampshire Bar Association. On December 15, 2011, the Board of Governors adopted the Section’s recommendation as the 2011 New Hampshire Title Examination Standards, effective December 31, 2011.

The 2011 Title Examination Standards are electronically accessible by Section Members on the Real Property Law Section page of the New Hampshire Bar Association website (). Go to the Real Property Law Section Materials page, and then click on the link, “Title Standards,” to view the Standards. The 2011 Title Examination Standards are presented online in a “Clean” version and in a “Redline” version (the 2010 version with deletions in redlined strikeouts and additions in blue underlines). The 2011 Standards are also available for public access at in the “Legal Links” area with a click on the “NH Practice Guidelines.”

A Guide to the Revisions

To view all the revisions, see the “Redline” version posted on the Title Standards Page of the Real Property Section’s page on the Bar’s website. [Both the redline and the final versions also are posted in the NH Practice Guidelines section – see “Legal Links” in the left navigation bar of . This area is accessible to the public.] Each Standard is assigned a title to make searching and identification of the contents easier. Each Standard is followed by a year or years in brackets. The year or years noted are the year that the Standard was first adopted and the year or years in which it was revised in substance, if any. Any changes in the renumbering of Standards, although shown, have not been considered to warrant a revision date, nor have a few minor typographical errors and corrections. Substantive changes to the 2011 standards are noted with the year “2011” at the end of each revised Standard. Changes in topic heading, minor typographical errors or punctuation are not noted with the date 2011. New standards can be easily spotted as containing only one date: 2011. Copies of the 2011 “Clean” or “Redline” versions can be printed if a hard copy is needed.

New changes to the Title Examination Standards can be easily searched online by using “2011” in the search field. The 2011 clean version of the Standards is posted online along with the 2010 redlined version, for ease of reference in identifying the 2011 changes.

The Bar Association website makes the 2011 Standards available to members at no charge.

Highlights of Revisions

The Title Standards reflect the real estate standard of practice when dealing with an established title in the registry of deeds. The Standards are not intended to be a "how to" guide on conducting a current transaction. See Standard 1-1: "Purpose. The objective of the title examiner is to determine whether or not the title in question is satisfactory of record . . . ."

Substantive changes are noted with the year “2011” at the end of each revised or new Standard. Changes in topic heading, minor typographical errors or punctuation are not noted with the date 2011. New standards can be easily spotted as containing only one date: 2011. Additions are shown in double underlining; deletions are shown with strikethroughs.

The 2011 Title Examination Standards amend the 2010 Standards in a number of ways. Changes in statutes, case law and real estate practice have been noted. This year’s revisions addressed: places of search and recording locations in Standards 1-3 and 1-4; a corrected citation in Standard 5-35 for manufactured housing; clarifying language was added to ambiguous deed descriptions and a comment added in Standard 5-50; comment in Standard 5-52 concerning an execution and acknowledgment by attorney-in-fact; foreclosure affidavit and notice of sale in Standard 6-10; supplemental foreclosure affidavit in Standard 6-16; tax deed in Standard 9-22; special assessment for municipal loans for clean energy districts in Standard 9-42 and issues addressing condominium as-built plans or floor plans in 11-2 and 11-4.

New standards are added to identify new laws, cases or practice standards. In 2011, two new standards were adopted. New Standard 5-54, Deeds without Covenants, addresses that a deed, which is otherwise valid, may be sufficient to convey title even if the deed contains no statutory covenants. New Standard 9-43 addresses municipal authority to sell tax-deeded property with citation to RSA 80:80, I and IV.

The 2011 Title Examination Standards contain a revised Table of Contents and revised Index. The Standards are also electronically searchable. New standards can be easily searched online by using “2011” in the search field. All past versions of the Standards (1954, 1963, 1974, 1980, 1988, 1990, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) are also posted online and searchable as well. Due to the online search capability, the 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Standards discontinue the use of the 1997 printed chart of changes, since the redlined text shows deletions and additions, and all prior standards are available online. The 2010 “Redline” version will remain online for ease of tracking the 2010 to 2011 changes, and for reference.

Annual Title Examination Standards Review Process

As statutory and case law changes, subsequent reviews and revisions to the Standards are addressed annually using the discussions at Section meetings and on the listserve as an online capability of the Real Property Law Section Materials page of the Bar website. In 1988, the Section created the Title Standards Committee as a standing committee to address revisions on a yearly basis; the annual review process was reinstituted in 2008. Suggestions for 2012 revisions may be posted on the Real Property Law Section listserve with the Subject line: “2012 Title Standards Suggestions.” The Committee monitors issues arising on the listserve; at Section meetings or brought to its attention by individual Section members. The goal of the Committee’s annual review is to provide the Section with proposed revisions each year, if needed, in September on the Section’s listserve and at the September Section meeting; opportunity for discussion and comment during a 30-day comment period ending in early October; further discussion and revision, if needed, at the October meeting and Section vote at the November Section meeting. The Section’s recommendations once approved are recommended to the Board of Governors for adoption at their next meeting, usually held in December, with the adopted Standards effective as of December 31st.

April 2012 CLE

On April 11, 2012, the 2011 Title Standards Committee will present a morning panel discussion of Selected Topics in Real Estate Conveyancing, including a discussion of the most recent changes to the Title Standards. The NH Bar and its Real Property Law Section will jointly sponsor the seminar at the Bar Center from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

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