Marketable title is one of such character as should assure to the vendee the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the property, which must be free from incumbrance. An incumbrance is anything that constitutes a burden upon the title, such as a right-of-way, a condition which may work a forfeiture of the estate, a right to take off timber, or a right of dower. A title may be regarded as "unmarketable" where a reasonably prudent man, familiar with the facts, would refuse to accept title in the ordinary course of business, and it is not necessary that the title actually be bad in order to render it unmarketable.
Buyers sought the return of their purchase money deposit from the seller for land burdened by easements that affected marketable title. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the purchasers and required the sellers to return a purchase money deposit. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court's decision. The sellers appealed the decision, arguing that the summary judgment was erroneous and that to uphold it would mean that no title subject to any incumbrance, including utility easements would be marketable, even if the purchasers agreed to purchase subject to certain easements.
Did the trial court err in ordering the return of the purchase money?
The court concluded that the purchasers were not required to accept land burdened by easements that affected marketable title. The court also noted that the provisions concerning marketable title and the purchase subject to the easement were conflicting and, in such a case, were properly construed against the sellers whose agent drew up the agreement.