Even Though Deed Recorded First, Buyer Not a Good Faith Purchaser.

 This case involves a dispute over a 1.67-acre tract.  The tract was conveyed to the plaintiffs in 1986 via a warranty deed, but the plaintiffs did not record the deed until 2010.  The original seller conveyed the same tract to the defendants via warranty deed in 2005, and the defendants recorded the deed shortly thereafter.  In 2010, the plaintiffs brought a quiet title action and sued the defendants for trespass and conversion.  The defendants moved for summary judgment.  The trial court denied the defendants' motion and quieted title in the plaintiffs.  The evidence showed that the plaintiffs mowed the property several times annually, planted trees and installed an irrigation system for the trees, and performed other general maintenance.  The court believed that these actions were sufficient to put the defendants on notice of their interest in the property.  The court also awarded the plaintiffs $2,380 in damages for trees that the defendants had cut on the property.  On reconsideration, the trial court reduced the damage award to $360.  On appeal, the court noted that under state (ND) law, an unrecorded instrument is valid as between the parties thereto and those having notice, but it is void as against good faith purchasers.  The appellate court agreed with the trial court that the defendants were not good faith purchasers.  The court agreed that the defendants had notice that the plaintiffs had an interest in the property based on numerous factors - they had seen the plaintiffs watering trees and mowing grass, drove by on practically a daily basis and the tract was adjacent to the defendants' home.  Thus, the defendants were not good faith purchasers and title was quieted in the plaintiffs.  Chornuk v. Nelson, No. 20140124, 2014 N.D. LEXIS 242 (N.D. Sup. Ct. Dec. 22, 2014). 

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