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Months after building purchase, buyer still waits for deed



Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Dear Fixer: I had a mortgage on my building with Harris Bank. The mortgage was paid off in the spring of 2009.

I received the mortgage paper from the bank ­— the document was stamped in red and marked “paid.”

Two months later, I called Harris Bank requesting the title to my building. I was told it takes a while to be sent to me. Months later, I called again and was told to wait. I would like to have the title or deed to my building. Can you help?

Jacqueline Gauthier, Chicago

Dear Jacqueline: The Fixer understands your wanting something in hand to prove ownership — and to avoid any troubles down the line for your children, who will someday inherit the building. So we asked Harris Bank spokeswoman Rachel Gerds about the best course of action.

Gerds looked into it and said it’s the deed you want, not a title. She sent you a “release deed” from Harris, which proves that the loan was fully paid. The bank also directed you to follow up with the title company and the attorney who set up your children’s trust, as well as the county recorder’s office. If you have any problems, Gerds said she’ll be happy to step in again.

Misdeeds with deeds?

Speaking of deeds, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued a California man Friday for alleged deceptive tactics in selling home deeds to Illinois consumers.

The man, Neil Camenker of Camarillo, Calif., is accused of violating Illinois law when he sent direct mailings to Illinois consumers offering them deeds to their homes for $87. Camenker’s business, the State Record Retrieval Board, failed to inform consumers that they can get their deeds for a small fee from their county recorder’s office, the suit alleges.

If you get a solicitation like this, Madigan’s office wants to know. Go to and click on the “Contact Us’’ tab.

Need info on a local business?

Here’s a tip that Team Fixer uses regularly: If you have a dispute with a local business but can’t seem to get beyond the front desk to the owner, go to That’s the website of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Office, where you can do a free online search of their corporate/LLC database (click on “services,” then “governmental records” and then “corporate/LLC information search”).

The results frequently yield the name and address of the business owner or the business’ lawyer — useful info for when the front-line employees aren’t listening.

COSTLY LESSON: A consumer’s tale of woe

Today’s lesson is from Bob of Brookfield, who desperately needed a car for his family. He thought he had found a decent used car and was happy with his purchase until three days later, when the dealership told him they couldn’t get him a loan.

The dealership offered Bob his money back, which in retrospect was what Bob should have done. But Bob and his wife really needed a vehicle and didn’t want to start their search all over again. So they asked Bob’s dad to co-sign a loan for the car. “They ran his credit and saw it was very good,” Bob wrote The Fixer. “They then contacted me and told us to come in and look at newer vehicles.”

The dealership was salivating over the potential for an even bigger sale. They talked Bob into a car that cost more than he wanted to pay, but he was happy — at least for a couple weeks.

That’s when the engine started making a loud noise. A check of the dipstick showed there was barely any oil, even though Bob had just refilled it. He took it to an oil change place, where they told him his new used car had an oil leak.

So Bob went back to the dealership, but by now their tone had changed. First they said Bob must have run over something to cause the problem. Then they said the sale was “as is” — leaving Bob with the prospect of paying off a loan on a car that probably needs a new engine.

The lesson for the rest of us? Never buy a used car without having a trusted, independent mechanic look it over inside and out. If they find a small problem, you can use that to negotiate the price down. If they find a big problem, you’ll still have time to walk away.

Have you been scammed by an UNFIXABLE problem? If you’ve got something to warn the rest of us about, e-mail with Costly Lessons in the subject line. And don’t worry — we’ll leave out last names to prevent further embarrassment.

Getting the runaround over a consumer problem? Tell it to The Fixer at .

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