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Recording Priorities For Real Estate in California

Updated on August 15, 2017

As active real estate lawyers in Los Angeles County we frequently deal with cases involving disputes or clouds on title based on discrepancies in recording priorities.  To understand these disputes, it helps to understand exactly how the system of recording priorities is set up and the purpose for the same.

In general, the laws and the rules associated with recording priorities were established to resolve disputes between competing claims to real property.  The idea of recording priorities is to give preference to one real property interest holder over another.

California follows the “first in time, first in right” rule for recording priorities.  This means that in the absence of an agreement stating otherwise,  the first to record an interest in a property has priority over a subsequent recording.   Of course, there are many exceptions to this rule – like when a person takes title to a property subject to a pre-existing loan.  And, there are ways to wipe out priorities through things like foreclosure sales, quiet title actions or even voluntarily reconveyances.

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When our real estate attorneys are tasked with helping resolve lien priority disputes in California we always start with the history of recorded title which typically comes from a title report.  Sometimes, however, a title report may not contain a complete or accurate history so we keep digging until we arrive at the true lien priority.

For help with your lien priority dispute, a quiet title claim to clear title or other lien related work, please contact us at (310) 954-1877, [email protected] or by filling out the contact form.

By Zachary D. Schorr, Esq.