Articles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law

by
Appellants, who owned residential property located entirely in St. Louis County, argued that Jefferson and Franklin counties systematically undervalued property in those counties, causing Appellants to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of operating multi-county taxing districts. After exhausting their administrative remedies, Appellants filed a petition in the circuit court challenging their 2011-12 property tax assessments. The circuit court dismissed the petition for failing to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of Appellants’ administrative claims for review and their claim for declaratory relief, holding (1) Appellants failed to assert a violation of the uniformity clause in article X, section 3 of the Missouri Constitution; and (2) the State Tax Commission lacked jurisdiction to hear Appellants’ claims of inter-county discrimination on appeal from the St. Louis County Board of Equalization. View "Armstrong-Trotwood, LLC v. State Tax Commission of Missouri" on Justia Law

by
A Bank provided loans to owners of eight condominium units. All eight owners became delinquent on their loans to the Bank and failed to make timely payments on the property owners’ association’s (POA) assessments. The Bank foreclosed on its deeds of trust and purchased all eight properties. The POA demanded payment from the Bank for all new assessments on the properties it purchased and demanded that the Bank pay past due assessments. The Bank sought relief by filing a declaratory judgment action and an action for monetary damages caused by the POA’s alder of the Bank’s title to the properties. The trial court entered partial summary judgment in favor of the Bank, declaring that the Bank was not obligated to pay past due assessments by the POA on properties the Bank purchased at a foreclosure sale. The trial court certified its order for immediate appeal and reserved judgment on Bank’s slander of title count. The POA appealed. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, holding that it lacked the authority to review the trial court’s partial judgment because the judgment did not dispose of a distinct judicial unit, and therefore, it was not a final judgment for purposes of Mo. Rev. Stat. 512.020(5). View "First National Bank of Dieterich v. Pointe Royale Property Owners' Association, Inc." on Justia Law

by
David and Crystal Holm filed a wrongful foreclosure action against Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. for allegedly foreclosing on their home without right. The Holms also filed a quiet title action against Freddie Mac, which took title to the property after the foreclosure sale. After a jury-waived trial, the trial court entered judgment in favor of the Holms on their wrongful foreclosure claim, awarded them actual and punitive damages, and quieted title to the house in the Holms. The mortgage companies appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sanctioning the mortgage companies for their discovery violations; (2) substantial evidence supported the trial court’s conclusion that Wells Fargo wrongfully foreclosed on the Holms’ house; but (3) the trial court erred in awarding damages and quieting title to the house in the Holms because the mortgage companies had a constitutional right to have a jury determine the extent of the Holms’ actual and punitive damages on the wrongful foreclosure claim. Remanded for a new trial before a jury on the Holms’ damages for wrongful foreclosure. View "Holm v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff filed a petition for a private way of necessity over properties owned by the Creekstone Homeowners Association and certain individuals (collectively, the Creekstone parties) and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission (MHTC). The Creekstone parties and MHTC filed motions to dismiss Plaintiff’s petition for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The trial court granted the motion and dismissed Plaintiff’s petition. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiff’s claim against the Creekstone parties was barred by Mo. Rev. Stat. 228.341, which provides that the statutes authorizing private ways of necessity do not apply to roads created by or included in a recorded plat referencing a declaration creating an owner’s association; and (2) Plaintiff’s claim against MHTC was barred because no statute authorizes private ways of necessity across public lands. View "Avery Contracting, LLC v. Niehaus" on Justia Law

by
Evolution Development LLC purchased land to create the Arbors at Sugar Creek through loans provided by Jefferson Bank & Trust Company. Evolution recorded an “Indenture” to run with the land. Evolution subsequently declared bankruptcy, and Jefferson Bank foreclosed. Jefferson Bank partnered with McKelvey Homes, LLC to finish building homes on the remaining lots. The existing homeowners deemed the building plans in violation of the Indenture, which led to the current dispute. The homeowners filed suit against McKelvey and Jefferson Bank seeking declaratory and injunctive relief and alleging claims of damages. Jefferson Bank filed a three-count counterclaim petition seeking declaratory relief and damages against the homeowners. The circuit court (1) granted summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs on Counts II and III of Jefferson Bank’s counterclaim petition; (2) granted summary judgment in favor of Jefferson Bank and McKelvey on Counts II-V of Plaintiffs’ petition; (3) granted declaratory relief in favor of Jefferson Bank and McKelvey; and (4) sustained Jefferson Bank’s motion for reimbursement. The Supreme Court (1) reversed in part, holding that the circuit court erred in sustaining Jefferson Bank’s motion for reimbursement; and (2) affirmed in all other respects, holding that summary judgment was properly entered and that the circuit court did not err in granting declaratory relief. View "Arbors at Sugar Creek Homeowners Ass’n v. Jefferson Bank & Trust Co., Inc." on Justia Law

by
In 2000, Plaintiff purchased a lot in a subdivision being developed by Markirk Construction, Inc., of which Kirk Jones was president. The next year, Plaintiff completed construction of a home on the lot. In 2009, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendants, alleging fraudulent misrepresentation in connection with the negotiation and sale of the lot. The jury found in favor of Jones. On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the trial court erred in instructing the jury that it had to find Jones knew that the alleged misrepresentations were false when he made them. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court properly instructed the jury that Defendant’s alleged representations concerned future events, and therefore, in order for Plaintiff to recover, Jones must have made these representations with knowledge when they were made that the representations were false. View "Stevens v. Markirk Construction, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Beemer Construction Company and Seal-O-Matic Paving Company moved to set aside a tax sale of certain real property to Realty Acquisition, LLC, arguing that they had mechanic’s liens on the property and that the Director of Collection’s failure to give them prior personal notice of the tax sale violated their due process rights. The trial court set aside the tax sale as null and void. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) a mechanic’s lien constitutes a substantial property interest, which is subject to due process protection; and (2) because Beemer and Seal-O-Matic, who had valid mechanic’s liens on the property, did not receive personal notice by mail of the tax sale, the trial court properly set aside the tax sale in question. View "In re Foreclosure Liens for Delinquent Taxes by Action in rem" on Justia Law

by
In 2012, St. Louis County adopted an ordinance that implemented a foreclosure mediation program requiring lenders to provide residential borrowers an opportunity to mediate prior to foreclosure. Two bankers filed suit against the County seeking a declaratory judgment establishing that the ordinance was invalid. The circuit court sustained the County’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that the County possessed the charter authority to enact the ordinance, the ordinance was a valid exercise of the County’s police power, the ordinance was not preempted by state law, and the fees associated with the ordinance did not violate the Hancock Amendment. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the ordinance was void and unenforceable ab initio because the County exceeded its charter authority in enacting the ordinance. View "Mo. Bankers Ass’n, Inc. v. St. Louis County, Mo." on Justia Law

by
Property Owners filed a lawsuit against a Mortgage Company, claiming that, by preparing deeds of trust and promissory notes for the Property Owners, the Mortgage Company (1) violated Mo. Rev. Stat. 484.010.2 and 484.020 by engaging in the "law business"; (2) committed an unlawful practice in violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act; and (3) was unjustly enriched because it charged for services it did not perform or did not perform lawfully. The trial court granted summary judgment for the Mortgage Company. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the Property Owners did not dispute that the Mortgage Company did not charge a separate fee or vary its customary charges for preparation of legal documents, there were no disputed material facts, entitling the Mortgage Company to summary judgment as a matter of law. View "Binkley v. Am. Equity Mortgage, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Appellant filed a claim against Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), alleging that Wells Fargo engaged in bad faith negotiations of a loan modification and wrongfully foreclosed on a deed of trust. The trial court entered judgment for Wells Fargo, concluding that because Wells Fargo’s actions were not taken before or at time of the extension of credit in the original loan, and because Wells Fargo was not a party to the transaction when Appellant first obtained the loan, Wells Fargo’s actions were not “in connection with” the sale of the original loan. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) to the extent Appellant’s allegations related to the wrongful foreclosure, summary judgment was not appropriate pursuant to Conway v. CitiMortgage, Inc., also decided today; and (2) because Wells Fargo was not enforcing the terms of the original loan when it negotiated the loan modification, its actions were not “in connection with” the sale of the original loan and thus did not violate the MMPA. Remanded. View "Watson v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc." on Justia Law