Oklahoma recently has implemented new rules regarding alien ownership of real property that will affect every closing within the state. Effective Nov. 1, 2023, no alien or non-U.S. citizen may acquire title, whether directly or via beneficial interest, to any Oklahoma real property, unless the grantee is a business “engaged in regulated interstate commerce in accordance with federal law.” 60 O.S. § 121. Bona fide residents, nonresidents who may become bona fide residents in the future, and nonresidents who acquire title via devise, descent, or foreclosure of a lien in favor of such alien may continue to acquire title, subject to certain statutory limitations. Alien ownership of real property where such interest was filed of record prior to the effective date may continue unaffected. Penalties for noncompliance with this prohibition can include forfeiture of such real property in favor of the state where there is evidence that the grantee intentionally contravened the law.
As a means of enforcing this restriction, all deeds submitted for recording within the state must now be accompanied by an affidavit signed by the grantee affirming compliance with 60 O.S. § 121 et seq. County clerks may not record any deed not accompanied by the required affidavit; however, per the attorney general’s office, governmental entity grantees may acquire title without executing such affidavit. The attorney general has promulgated three affidavit forms for this purpose: for individual grantees, exempt businesses or trusts, or non-exempt businesses or trusts, respectively. These forms may not be modified except by the attorney general. Some minor changes to the forms have already been implemented, so parties should ensure they reference the latest forms as published on the Office of the Attorney General website to ensure compliance.
While the primary risk and burden of legal compliance falls to the grantee, all parties involved in real estate transactions should be aware of and account for these provisions to avoid later complications and unnecessary costs, expenses and delays.
* This article first appeared in The Journal Record on November 30, 2023, and is reproduced with permission from the publisher.