Happy PRIDE month! Recently, a colleague of mine had a client that was gender transitioning which made me realize, “Hey, this is a topic we haven’t talked about in the commercial real estate world,” since it does in fact have implications. A little background: the ‘T’ in the LGBTQ community stands for transgender. Transgender people come in all different shapes, shades and love. The bottom line is that someone has enough love for themselves to live their own gender truth (queue the snap and cheers for all of you).
The gender transition process brings about many changes, including those that can affect a person’s business and commercial real estate investments. One of those issues is legally changing their name, and today I want to talk about the necessary steps to doing so properly and how it affects CRE properties.
If a person changes their name, whether they’ve transitioned, gotten hitched or wanted to change their name to “Lovely Jane” – they should always file an affidavit stating the name change. Why? First, let’s understand how the title process works.
Once a piece of commercial real estate is under contract, the buyer decides on a title company. From there the title company orders a “title abstract”. According to The Free Dictionary by Farlex:
“An abstract of title, or title abstract, briefly summarizes the various activities affecting ownership of a parcel of land. When a person or business agrees to purchase real estate, that person or business arranges for an examination of the history of the property’s title. This examination is known as a title search. A title search is conducted to determine that the seller of the property in fact owns the property and has a free-and-clear title. A free-and-clear title has no clouds on it, which means that no person or business other than the seller has an interest in, or claim to, the property.”
The title abstract of a title is a crucial piece to closing on a commercial real estate property or owning one in general. Contrary to common knowledge, a new abstract is not preformed every time. It is undated to reflect the most recent change. The title shows the first time the U.S. government conveyed the property to a private entity. From there, it reflects every change up to the current date. Along the way, it shows if there have been any liens, judgments, or bank loans. Although a title abstract is not a legal document it is an important one for safeguard.
Don’t Break the Title Chain
So, back to our issue at hand, what happens if an individual changes their name before or after they have bought a piece of commercial real estate? Well, the most effective option (and the one to save the future owner any heartache) is to file an affidavit stating you have changed your name. If you do not, then the title company will have to file an “act of correction”, which can ultimately hold up any closing and we all know TIME KILLS DEALS.
The act of correction is to link the title history all together. As we know, title attorneys do extensive research into the background of the property. They are responsible for a title examination which is ordered by the bank. The title examination makes sure there are no liens, judgements, unsatisfied mortgagees or break in the title chain.
Having a piece of commercial real estate signed by the property owner pre-transition (originally as name “X”) and then trying to have the name signed after transition (as their new name “Y”) breaks the title chain. This leaves an open door to numerous questions in the future, or a possible mess.
Moral of the commercial real estate story is to always file an affidavit for each property owned if you change your name. If you have any questions about name changes and commercial real estate titles, reach out to me at [email protected], I’d love to help! With that, go forth and live your beautiful truth!
About Kathryn Juneau – After breaking into Baton Rouge Commercial Real Estate in 2011, Kathryn became licensed in 2013 and began specializing in senior housing. In 2014, Kathryn became and Advisor with SVN | Graham, Langlois & Legendre, LLC. She has represented large users of medical and industrial space in an array of real estate transactions. Kathryn’s reputation of tenaciously protecting her clients’ interest, savvy negotiations and cutting edge marketing strategies have led to numerous closings and returns to her clients. To contact Kathryn, you can email her at [email protected], call her at 225-367-1515 or follow her on Twitter at @KatJuneau.