My name got listed as sales agent on Zillow and my phone hasn’t stopped ringing

Last November, I started a bank foreclosure sale on a piece of property in Williamson County, at 2113 N Berrys Chapel Road, Franklin, Tennessee 37069. The foreclosure never happened, because the borrower filed a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in the Eastern District of California.

When I received the Notice of Bankruptcy Filing, I printed a copy for my file, confirmed on PACER that the Notice was legit, and closed my file. This foreclosure sale is canceled.

In the 3 weeks that the foreclosure was pending, I’d received one or two calls about it.

But, somehow, the property website Zillow picked up my Foreclosure Sale Notice and, not only that, but Zillow has me listed as the sales agent on the property’s Zillow page. My name, address, and phone number (the ONE time I used my cell phone number), all right there online.

Since December, I’ve received probably 4-5 phone calls a week, every week, asking about this property. I’ve received calls from families, from real estate agents, and from property investors. The calls are from local numbers, as well as from far away places as Mississippi, California, Minnesota, and London. They call in the mornings, at night, and on the weekends.

I got a call last night at 8pm. I got one today at 2pm.

At this point, if I get a call from a number that I don’t recognize, I assume it’s somebody calling about “that house in Franklin that you’ve got listed for sale.”

It’s either a testament to the reach of Zillow, or the continued atomic-hot Nashville real estate market.

The people are always really nice. They also have a lot of questions about bankruptcy, when I’ll be foreclosing on this house again, and whether I have other houses I can sell to them.

Sometimes they’ll complain to me about the real estate market, about how expensive everything is and how hard it is to find a deal. Occasionally, they ask about bankruptcy and foreclosures, and, honestly, it’s easier to explain what the automatic stay is and how Chapter 11 works than to try to cut the calls short.

I’ve asked Zillow to remove my name and phone number, to no avail.

So, at this point, I propose this: If any of you are real estate agents and need “new customer leads,” please let me know.

And, finally, if you are reading this after googling “2113 N Berrys Chapel Road, Franklin, Tennessee 37069” and you are interested in buying it, here’s what I have to say:

The sale has been cancelled as a result of the borrower filing bankruptcy. A new sale date has not been set and will not be set in the foreseeable future. Yeah, you know those California judges. No, I don’t know if the kitchen appliances in the pictures are still there. No, I don’t have the keys; I just represent the bank foreclosing on the property.

And, yes, I agree. The real estate market in Nashville is insane.

A Transfer Without Payment of Liens Does Not Eliminate A Lender’s Valid Lien

Yesterday’s post about Quitclaim Deeds of Real Property has spurred a few variations of the same question: what happens to liens on my property when I transfer it to somebody else?

With only a few exceptions, a sale of property is subject to any properly perfected lien that is attached to the property. So, if I quitclaim land to you, then any liens on that land remain attached to that property, and I take it subject to those unpaid liens. Long story short, conveying your house to your mother doesn’t make the mortgage go away…it just means your mother owns a house with your mortgage on it.

So, as a buyer, it’s my duty to investigate the status of liens on any property that I’m buying and make sure that those liens are paid off or otherwise released (or that I’m content taking the property with the liens). A smart buyer will not only investigate the status of his seller’s title to confirm it’s lien free, but will also look a few “sellers” back, to make sure there are no liens.

From a creditor’s perspective, there is comfort knowing that a valid and recorded lien serves as protection of its rights, and the creditor doesn’t need to watch the property transactions on a daily basis.

For a buyer, only a complete review of the title records can provide comfort.