Old security deeds (commonly referred to as mortgages) do not always get released or
canceled as they should. The lender may have failed to file the release, gone out of business, or
may have been purchased by another bank. These old loans can be very difficult to track down.
A security deed is a document conveying a security interest in the real estate to the lender as collateral for a debt. Prior to 1994, any interest conveyed to the lender in a security deed would revert back to the
borrowers 20 years after the maturity date on the Security Deed. If no maturity date was stated,
then the security interest would revert 20 years after the security deed was recorded.
After 1994, Georgia code 44-14-80 states that any interest conveyed in a security deed reverts
back to the borrower seven years after the maturity date, or seven years from the date of recording if no
maturity date is stated in the security deed.
This changes if the lender states in the security deed that it is intended to establish a perpetual
or indefinite security interest in the property. If this language is included in the security deed, the
title would still revert to the borrower seven years after the maturity date, OR 20 years from the date
of conveyance, whichever is later.
Most traditional residential security deeds mature in 30 years. For most loans, if more than seven
years have passed since the maturity date and the loan was recorded more than 20 years ago,
then title has reverted to the borrower and there is no need to get a release.
It is not uncommon for heirs to have to try and track down an old mortgage their parents paid in
full, but have no record of the full payment or release. This can take months to get corrected
without a loan number or something similar to go on.
Always keep your letter of release or document from the lender showing a loan is
paid in full. This will be a tremendous help to your closing attorney if a release was not properly
John C. Bennett is a real estate closing attorney and owner of Origin Title and Escrow, Inc..
Since 2003, Origin Title has handled real estate transactions – purchases, refinances, reverse
mortgages – quickly and professionally. There will be no surprises, nothing misunderstood. Title
searches are thorough and well-reasoned, to avoid unpleasant surprises later down the road.
Calculate your closing costs in Georgia or Florida using our calculator or contact Origin Title using the form provided.