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Warren v. Synstad

March 3, 1997

ELDON WARREN, APPELLANT,
v.
ROBERT AND SANDY SYNSTAD, RESPONDENTS.



Appeal from Superior Court of Snohomish County. Docket No: 94-2-07484-7. Date filed: 12/01/95. Judge signing: Hon. Paul D. Hansen.

PER CURIAM. In this case we are asked to decide whether the quit claim deed executed by Eldon Warren to Robert and Sandy Synstad was actually what it purported to be, an outright conveyance of certain real property, or was merely intended to create a mortgage-type lien on the property. The trial court rejected Warren's theory of equitable mortgage because, among other things, he did not meet his burden of showing that the parties intended the instrument to be a mortgage rather than a deed.

Because the trial court's relevant findings of fact either have not been challenged, or are supported by substantial evidence, and all support the Conclusion reached by that court, we affirm.

FACTS

In 1990, Warren purchased a 30-acre parcel of property near Arlington.

Over the next several years, the Synstads loaned money to Warren, who was romantically involved with their daughter. Warren executed a quit claim deed transferring title to the property to the Synstads on June 30, 1992.

A dispute thereafter arose over who owned the property and Warren commenced this action against the Synstads to determine, among other things, the interest of all the parties in the subject property.

A bench trial was held at which conflicting testimony was presented regarding ownership of the property. The trial court ruled in favor of the Synstads and against Warren. The court entered the following findings of fact:

IV

Subsequent to the purchase of the subject property [Warren] moved onto the property with his living partner, Debbie Sproul, who is the daughter of [the Synstads]. [Warren] and Ms. Sproul turned to defendants for monetary assistance at various times while they were together. By June of 1992, [Warren] and Ms. Sproul were indebted to [the Synstads] for some $10,500.00.

V

In June of 1992 [Warren] approached [the Synstads] and offered to execute a quit claim deed transferring title to the subject property to [the Synstads], which offer [the Synstads] accepted. A quit claim deed was prepared by [the Synstads'] counsel and executed by [Warren]

on June 30, 1992. The quit claim deed was recorded with the Snohomish County Auditor on July 8, 1992 under Recording No. 9207080500. Said quit claim deed is complete on its face stating that [Warren] quit claims to [the Synstads] all [his] right, title and interest to the subject property.

VI

At the time of the transfer the court finds that there was an understanding between [Warren] and [the Synstads] that [Warren] would reside on the property, that [Warren] would continue his efforts to subdivide the property and that [Warren] would make all payments on the deed of trust encumbering the subject property and pay property taxes on the subject property. Upon completion of the subdivision the property would be sold in order to pay [the Synstads] their investment in the subject property, with the exception of one five acre parcel which [Warren] would retain. [The ...


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