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Seventh Grade Wisdom

Featured home: 15-1075 Kiawe Rd. Keaau, HI 96749.

It’s amazing the things one remembers. Mr. Stringer, my 7th grade math teacher, was full of down-home Will Rogers style advice. Much of it had little to do with math, but I remember it quite clearly, none-the-less. There’s one pearl, which made me particularly red-faced no matter how many times he repeated it. Every time I see a title report with multiple owners and a lien or judgment belong to just one owner, I can hear Mr. Stringer loudly and clearly telling us all to “be very careful who we swap slobber with.”

Titles & Liens
Often the complications that show up on title have little to do with personal relationships, but it’s still an appropriate lesson. When property is sold, a lien check is conducted on both buyer and seller. For seller, it covers the entire ownership period. Personal obligations such as debtor’s judgments, child support judgments, and tax liens can attach to the property. Keep in mind, these are all matters of public record.

Non-Child, Child Support?
In one past transaction, a boyfriend/girlfriend purchased a property together. Girlfriend initially paid the down payment. Most of the monies were hers. When they split, the property was quit claimed back to her without compensation to him. When she decided to sell, she found a child support judgment had attached to the property. The claim was for a child the boyfriend had with another woman. This judgment had to be cleared before the sale could proceed. In other words, seller had to pay support for a child that was not hers. 

A Sibling Circumstance
More recently, siblings owned property as joint tenants. One owner passed away and by law, the property passed to the remaining siblings. Title passed but a child support lien remained unresolved. The siblings were willing to pay the amount due, but apparently CSEA has grave concern for the privacy of the deceased. At least this is the reason they gave for being unwilling to provide a pay-off amount to the escrow company. No pay- off, no lien release! Closing was delayed but eventually, after a great deal of frustration and persistence, the payoff was provided.

The “F” Word
Similar problems are also common with foreclosures. Because foreclosures are often part of a generally deteriorating financial picture, the party carrying the note is forced to clear miscellaneous unrelated financial issues in order to take the property back. 

So here’s the thing, the lesson learned at Palatka Jr. High may not have been philosophically deep, but in retrospect it really did have a great deal to do with math afterall.

About the Author

Denise Nakanishi

Denise Nakanishi is a REALTOR Broker with Hawai'i Life. Denise Nakanishi is one of Hilo's most acclaimed real estate agents. She reached the rank of Major in the US Army and is now known by many as "Major Mom." The nickname fits–not only does Denise bring the discipline and mission-oriented attitude you'd expect, she's also caring and compassionate, always looking out for her clients like they're her own family. Having made the Big Island her home since 1987, Denise combines her extensive knowledge of the area with a sharp focus on customer service and the results speak for themselves. She's the recent recipient of the Best East Hawai`i, Best of Zillow, Chairman's Circle Award, President's Circle, Top Producing Agent since 2001, and Realtor of the Year awards. Denise stays ahead of the curve because she's passionate about education–she served as Education Chair for Hawaii Island REALTORS® for many years. She's one of Big Island's best real estate resources, known for her weekly article in the Hawaii Tribune Herald. Denise leads Team Nakanishi for Hawai`i Life, who is committed to their family, work, and community. In her little time away from work, Denise is a committed runner and Grandy. She also devotes many hours to various Veterans' Organizations, the East Hawaii Cultural Center, and the Hawaii Island REALTORS®. You can email me at or via phone at (808) 936-5100.

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Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)

March 24, 2020

You have certainly worked your way through some interesting title issues! Thanks for sharing your stories

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