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Bona Fide Purchasers, Ownership-Title Disputes

Property ownership disputes can be complex, particularly in the context of real estate. It is not uncommon for there to be an improper or defective conveyance of real estate that goes unnoticed, and then there are several subsequent transfers of the same property between different people. For this reason, it is important to record all deeds and real estate documents to put subsequent interest parties on “notice” of a potential third-party claim or interest in the real estate. Without any notice, it is possible for someone to purchase the property free and clear of such un-recorded third-party claims.

Specifically, a “bona fide purchaser” is one who pays consideration for property, has no notice of oustanding rights of others and acts in good faith with respect to the transaction. Community Bank v. Campbell, 870 S.W.2d 838, 842 (Mo. Ct. App. 1993). A bona fide purchaser takes free and clear of any and all liens or claims of third-parties. Id. “The notice sufficient to defeat a claim to bona fide purhcaser status is actual or constructive notice of facts that would place a reasonably prudent person upon inquiry as to the title he or she is about to purchase” Evans v. Wittorff, 869 S.W.2d 872, 876 (Mo. Ct. App. 1994). A party claiming to be a bona fide purchaser must prove that the status applies. 

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