Once upon a time there was a Fox and a Hound.  The Hound chased the Fox all over hill and dale until he cornered it, and then a Hunter shot the Fox.

“Hey, that is my fox!” the Hound protested, and he took the Hunter to court.  Sure enough, despite being the lesser-armed and the lesser-thumbed, the Hound won his case and got the dead fox.  That was all back in jolly old English law, but it holds true in Florida.

Pierson v. Post is from English Common Law and is the first case you read in law school regarding real estate law.  Who gets to keep the dead fox—the guy who chased it or the guy who stepped in and shot it?  Which created the property?    Post chased down the fox and Pierson shot it.  The dead fox was awarded to Post.

Florida is a Notice state.

If Christopher Crook sells a piece of property at Title Company A, and then before it is recorded Mr. Crook sells the same property at Title Company B, who is the owner of the property?  Answer:  Buyer B.  The buyer at the second closing does not have Notice if Title A has not made it to the courthouse yet.  Once the deed is recorded, then Constructive Notice is given.

The person who takes the title last without notice wins.  Why?  Because Buyer A had the ability to prevent fraud through Constructive NoticeConstructive Notice is a nice piece of legal fiction signifying someone is presumed to know something even if that person has no actual knowledge of it.  Constructive Notice helps prioritize claims under Florida’s Notice statutes.

Furthermore, competent legal counsel looking over your shoulder can help ensure you are getting the deal you think you are getting, whether you are dealing with distressed properties or a seemingly straightforward transaction.