Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Treasure Chest Thursday: Backus-Pemberton Land Contract

This is a document that I obtained while going through old papers at my maternal grandmother's house about a year before she died in 2008. It is a land contract that she and my grandfather entered into to purchase their first home. When I found this paperwork, I was not sure what the difference was between a land contract and a mortgage. Apparently, a land contract is one in which the seller agrees to finance the property, rather than a third party lender. The deed to the property remains in the seller's name until all payments have been made. It's similar to a rent-to-own agreement.

Below is a summary of the info contained in the land contract:

1) Entered into on 22 Sep 1956

2) Sellers: Thomas H. Backus and Bertha E. Backus of Carsonville, Sanilac, Michigan

3) Buyers: John P. Pemberton and Violet M. Pemberton, husband and wife, of 1828 Stone Street, of Porth [sp] Huron, Michigan

4) Selling price: $4,000 [Wow! Can't believe inflation!]

5) Location of land: Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan - The South Thirty-one (31) and five-tenths (5/10) feet of Lot Two (2), Block 5 Port Huron Northwestern Railway Plat of a part of the City of Port Huron

6) Down payment: None

7) Interest rate: 6%

8) Payment amount: $40/month, beginning 12 Oct 1956 [again, wow!]

I found a 1916 plat map at the University of Michigan's online local county histories and maps website. It does appear that they were purchasing the home at 1828 Stone Street, which is what I suspected. This is where my mom was born and raised until her middle school years. The contract mentions that my grandparents already lived there, so I take this to mean that they were probably renting the house for awhile before they entered into the land contract. The house on Stone Street is only two blocks away from the St. Clair River, which divides Michigan and Canada. I am really amazed at the price my grandparents paid in 1956...only $4,000! My mom said it was a 3-bedroom house. I checked on Zillow to see what homes there were selling for today. There was a 4-bedroom house built in 1917 (about the same age) at 2104 Stone St that has an asking price of $36,000. Of course, if Michigan were not suffering so much from the recession, I would expect this house to be closer to $50K. What I find interesting about this copy of the land contract is that it is signed by the buyers and sellers but not by the witnesses. I don't recognize the names of the witnesses, Mabel McLean and Betty Heberling. I also don't recognize the name of the sellers, Thomas and Bertha Backus.

Stay tuned for next Thursday's post that will showcase the warranty deed that was signed on this house after all the payments were made.

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