The Second Department determined a deed which facially appears to evidence an absolute conveyance was actually intended as security in the nature of a mortgage. The holder of such a deed (here American Lending) must proceed by foreclosure to extinguish the mortgagor’s interest. The subsequent purchasers of the property (the Romond defendants) were good faith purchasers. Therefore the Romond defendants were entitled to dismissal of American Lending’s complaint seeking rescission of the Romond deed and a declaration the deed was null and void:
In 2009, the defendant Dana Grigg sought to purchase certain property … . When financing for the transaction fell through, Grigg entered into an … agreement with the plaintiff, American Lending Corp. … to borrow … $385,000. The terms of the loan, which were memorialized in a note, included a provision that after 90 days, if the loan had not been repaid in full, American Lending would be authorized to file a joint deed in the property records and to “seek a Summary Judgment instead of following a regular foreclosure proceedings [sic].” In June 2009, Grigg purchased the subject property and executed … a deed from himself to himself and American Lending (… the joint deed). Grigg subsequently defaulted under the terms of the loan. * * *
Real Property Law § 320 provides, in pertinent part, that a “deed conveying real property, which, by any other written instrument, appears to be intended only as a security in the nature of a mortgage, although an absolute conveyance in terms, must be considered a mortgage” … . … “The holder of a deed given as security must proceed in the same manner as any other mortgagee—by foreclosure and sale—to extinguish the mortgagor’s interest” … .
… [T]he Romond defendants established … that the joint deed was given as security for the loan from American Lending to Grigg. Therefore, pursuant to Real Property Law § 320, the joint deed must be considered a mortgage, and American Lending’s sole remedy for Grigg’s breach of its terms was to commence an action sounding in foreclosure. Moreover, under the circumstances at bar, the Romond defendants established that they were good faith purchasers of the subject property (see Real Property Law § 290 …). American Lending Corp. v Grigg, 2020 NY Slip Op 03211, Second Dept 6-10-20