Minnesota Residential Real Estate Purchase Agreements – Minnesota Legal Descriptions

Minnesota Residential Real Estate Purchase Agreements - Minnesota Legal Descriptions

Minnesota Residential Real Estate Purchase Agreements – Minnesota Legal Descriptions

All real property in Minnesota is properly identified by a legal description.

A Minnesota legal description is “sufficient” if it describes land in such a manner that a surveyor could locate the boundaries of the land:

  • with certainty, and
  • without the assistance of extrinsic evidence.

Minnesota Legal Descriptions – Association of Realtors (M.A.R.) – 2012 Purchase Agreement

Lines 11 and 12 of the 2012 version of the Minnesota Association of Realtors (hereinafter, the “Association”), primary purchase agreement (hereinafter, the “Association’s Agreement”), allows for an identification of the subject real property by a street address.

The Minnesota Supreme Court has held that a purchase agreement which identifies urban real property only by a street address can be an enforceable agreement.

However, it is not a good practice to identify even urban real property only by a street address, because there may be additional vacant parcels which the buyer intends to include in the purchase which have a different street address, or no street address.

Real property located outside of urban or suburban areas should always be identified by a legal description.

Minnesota Legal Descriptions – M.S. Section 559.217 Notice of Cancellation

Should either party desire to cancel a purchase agreement pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, Section 559.217, the notice of cancellation must specify by legal description the property involved.

If the purchase agreement does not identify the real property by a legal description, the buyer would be required to obtain such a description – possibly from a third-party vendor – before the buyer would be able to initiate statutory cancellation procedures.

Since the statutory cancellation procedures identified in Minnesota Statutes, Section 559.217 only allow a 15 day period of time to respond to a cancellation procedure commenced by the other party, there may be significant time pressure on the buyer to locate a legal description before the 15 day time period expires.

Minnesota Legal Descriptions; Lines 13 – 16

Lines 13 – 16 of the Association’s Agreement allow for an identification of the subject real property by a legal description.

It’s always best to include a full and complete legal description of the subject real property in the purchase agreement, if possible – as a street address may not be sufficient to properly describe such property.

For example, it would be important to include in the legal description of the property any vacated alleys or streets which are intended to be included in the transfer.

If the property to be sold is registered Torrens real property, and any vacated alleys or streets have not yet been recognized as being part of the subject property pursuant to a Torrens “Proceeding Subsequent”, the purchase agreement should identify which party will bear the cost of such a registration procedure.

It is also good practice to include in the purchase agreement the legal description of any appurtenant easement which benefits the subject property – in a manner similar to the following:

Lot 1, Block 7, Miller’s Addition,

together with an easement for driveway purposes over the West 15 feet of Lot 2, Miller’s Addition.

If any such appurtenant easement exists, the title evidence and examination procedures should allow for an evaluation of the validity of such an easement.

(i)      Where to Locate Minnesota Legal Descriptions

All Minnesota real property offers one of two types of title ownership evidence:

  • The Abstract Property form of title evidence; or
  • The Registered Property form of title evidence – the Torrens Property Certificate of Title.

Real property that offers the Abstract Property form of title evidence has not been registered pursuant to the Torrens real property registration system.

(ii)     Minnesota Legal Descriptions – Abstract Property

Legal descriptions for Abstract Property in Minnesota are properly obtained from:

  • the front cover page of an abstract of title for the subject property,
  • a copy of the recorded deed by which the sellers received title to the real property, or
  • a previously issued policy of title insurance.

(iii)    Minnesota Legal Descriptions – Registered Property

Legal descriptions for registered Torrens property in Minnesota are properly obtained from:

  • the Torrens Property Certificate of Title (the best source for the legal description),
  • a copy of the filed deed by which the sellers received title to the real property, or
  • a previously issued policy of title insurance – which may cover more than one parcel.

(iv)  Minnesota Legal Descriptions – Real Property Tax Records

It is common for parties preparing purchase agreements to use a legal description for real property which was obtained from the County’s real property tax records.

Such legal descriptions can be correct, but are often just an abbreviated version of the actual legal description.

It’s always best to include a full and complete legal description of the subject real property in the purchase agreement, if possible.

Conclusion –

Minnesota Residential Real Estate Purchase Agreements:

Minnesota Legal Descriptions

Please contact Minnesota Attorney Gary C. Dahle for assistance with the preparation, or review, of any Minnesota real property purchase agreement, at 763-780-8390, or gary@dahlelaw.com.

While legal descriptions for many platted parcels of real estate can be simple, that is not always the case.

In addition, legal descriptions for real property which are not platted can be extremely complex.

Therefore, it is always advisable to retain the services of a Minnesota attorney when dealing with complex legal descriptions.

Sometimes, the services of a licensed real property surveyor may also be required when complex legal descriptions are involved.

If you have an e-mail account, and a good Internet connection, Attorney Gary C. Dahle can assist you in any Minnesota County.

Copyright 2017 – All Rights Reserved

Gary C. Dahle – Attorney at Law

2704 County Road 10, Mounds View, MN 55112

Phone:  763-780-8390    Fax: 763-780-1735

gary@dahlelaw.com

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Legal Disclaimer

Information provided herein is only for general informational and educational purposes. Minnesota real estate law involves many complex legal issues. If you have a specific legal problem about which you are seeking advice, either consult with your own attorney or retain an attorney of your choice.

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