It is important to perform a title search before purchasing any property. This search involves looking into all matters affecting the title, particularly public records listing liens, encumbrances, ownership, and other factors. These records include written documents like deeds and mortgages, probate, marriage, and tax records, and they are extremely important in establishing the ownership of a property. Here are 5 issues commonly found in title searches.
1. Unknown Liens
Some property owners are not keen bookkeepers, or even bill payers for that matter. If you purchase a property that has unpaid debts, you may be forced to bear the burden of that debt even if it is not yours. Conducting a title search can help you discover old tax liens that would otherwise become your problem once you closed on the sale.
2. Errors in Public Records
Mistakes that affect the title to a property can be devastating. You could, for instance, incur significant financial strain trying to resolve things such as clerical or filing blunders that affect the deed of your property. Similarly, if a mortgage company goes bankrupt before satisfying a prior mortgage to the property, you may have to cover that cost or risk losing it. You can prevent this situation by doing a proper title search before you complete the purchase, which will reveal any errors in the title records.
3. Missing Heirs
The Last Will and Testament is used to determine how a property will be transferred when a person dies. In some cases, the ownership of the property goes directly to the next of kin. However, problems may arise when the heir is unknown or found to be missing at the time of death. There are many instances where homeowners die without leaving a Will, and their children continue living in the property without resolving this issue. Often times it may be necessary to formally probate the property in order to be sure the person selling the property has the authority to do so. These types of scenarios can affect your title to the property, and if left unresolved, may impact your ability to sell the property in the future.
4. Illegal Deeds
The title record on your home may appear perfectly fine, but you may discover that a previous deed was taken by a person of unsound mind, a minor, or someone who claimed to be single but was actually married. These issues may make it difficult to enforce prior deeds in the chain of title, and it can also affect current ownership of the property. Doing a title search can uncover these issues, allowing you to track down the person listed on the prior deed and correct any issues accordingly.
5. Unknown Encumbrances and Easements
When purchasing a property, you may find that some or all of it is claimed by a third party because of a prior mortgage or nonfinancial claims such as covenants or restrictions limiting the use of the property. You may not be able to use the property as you would like in the event of an undiscovered easement, or worse, other parties such as government agencies and private businesses may have the right to access all or parts of it. Easements are one of the most common issues that turn up in title searches, and they are often undisclosed to unwary buyers.
Performing a thorough title search before you close a property sale can save a lot of headache in the future. If you are not sure about the state of the property, Rodriguez-Albizu Law can help you out. Get in touch today to talk to an attorney.