Understanding the importance of a title search has been discussed on this blog. Also important is to know what the common problems are with titles so that potential purchasers of real estate can identify and resolve these issues so they do not cause problems with their real estate transaction.
There are several common title problems that may come up including:
- Errors in the public record – clerical and filing errors in the public record can impact the deed or survey for the property being purchased that must be undone.
- Unknown liens – unpaid former debts on the property can cause liens to be placed on the property that can impact the property even after the sale has closed. This can be a significant concern for distressed properties.
- Illegal deeds – illegal deeds can have a potential impact on ownership if a prior deed was made by an undocumented immigrant, a minor, a person of unsound mind or a person who is married but reported as single.
- Missing heirs – heirs that are not located or are missing may have a claim to a home that would have fallen to them. In addition, if the heirs are not located or are missing, a will contest could come up at a later date.
- Forgeries – forgeries that make their way into the public record can potentially interfere with ownership down the road.
- Undiscovered encumbrances – an undiscovered encumbrance can interfere with the purchaser’s ownership because of a former mortgage or lien or other non-financial claim like restrictions or covenants on the property.
- Unknown easements – an unknown easement on the property may prevent the owner from using the property as they like or impact their right to enjoy their property. An unknown easement could allow government agencies, businesses and others to access portions of the owner’s property.
- Boundary or survey disputes – outstanding surveys that the property owner does not know about may show different boundaries than the ones the buyer believes they are purchasing.
Understanding the problems that can arise with titles is important when purchasing property. A successful real estate transaction means knowing about the potential pitfalls and how to address them.