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The Top 9 Issues to Look for During Title Searches

Posted by Jane F. Bolin, Esq. | Apr 20, 2022 | 0 Comments

If you aren't familiar with title searches, you may not know what to look for when you're given one. Here's what to know about them (and what to watch out for when reviewing one). 

Key takeaways:

  • Title searches are necessary for smooth property transactions.
  • They track previous ownership to ensure a seller has the right to sell the property.
  • Failing to uncover title red alerts can ruin a transaction.
  • You need a property attorney's help in your title search. 

Deciding to buy a home is a big step in life. You must  take that step cautiously, though, because moving too fast or not knowing what to look for in title searches could mean you run into hidden problems – and even lose your money.

Every property owner receives a title to their newly purchased home. This crucial document declares a seller's ability to sell the property and a buyer's right to own and utilize a piece of property. When buying a home, you need to perform a title search to ensure that the title is “clean.” This means there are no things that could arise to “cloud” or cause problems with transferring ownership. 

Besides an insurance title commitment, a real estate attorney may issue their formal written opinion to declare the title's status. You need an attorney's help issuing a formal written opinion of a title's status helping hand in this issue because: 

  • Family members may want to establish the status of a property an estate owns.
  • Creditors may want to know a title's status before placing a lien on the property.
  • Real estate developers may require a title opinion before buying land.
  • Parties to a lawsuit may need to establish the property's ownership status.

Ensure you carry out due diligence before closing that real estate deal. Title searches come in handy to help prospective property buyers buy a property with peace of mind. This blog will cover the  leading issues a well-performed title search uncovers, plus why they're important. 

9 issues that title searches reveal

Many challenges can arise before or after purchasing a home. Here's what to know about the nine top ones a title search uncovers:

1. Mortgage liens

A title search detects if the property you wish to buy has mortgage liens on it. Failing to discover this burden can land you in financial difficulties because you could bear the debt after the transaction. 

2. Taxes

Taxes are another common problem title searches unearth. A preliminary report indicates if the property has unpaid taxes attached to it. Taxes are the primary financial obligations that need settling before others, like mortgage liens. Thus, any proceeds from selling such properties must clear taxes before other debts.

3. Easements 

An easement is a special right a party receives to use a given piece of property in a given way. An easement may allow people to use a certain property to access a public beach, for example, or access a property that is set back away from a main road. It usually loops in local, state, or federal agencies. 

The challenge with easements is that they can be legally transferred with ownership of the property. They're legally binding agreements, so only the concerned parties can agree to remove them.

4. Restrictions, conditions, and covenants

Restrictions such as historic oversight, zoning issues, or disputes can also derail or delay a property's sale. Fortunately, title searches detect old boundary and survey restrictions imposed by previous homeowners or their neighbors. Make efforts to establish whether the land you intend to buy has a boundary dispute, no matter how small. Otherwise, hidden boundary disputes might arise to haunt and annoy you.

A title search also unveils any municipality zoning that restricts land usage in a given district. These restrictions determine the property type you can erect in that zone and may contain gardening and remodeling laws. Meanwhile, certain covenants and conditions apply to condos and properties under associations. It's critical to look for them through a title search before purchasing. 

5. Illegal deeds

Illegal title issuance still occurs in this country. A person who lived in the USA illegally might have owned the property you wish to purchase. This can cause you some headaches, but getting a competent title search company can help you detect this possible inconvenience.  

6. Unfamiliar or uninformed heirs

Imagine buying a piece of property, but then another person shows up claiming to be its heir two months later. This instance is common when buying a property from one or some of a deceased owner's heirs. It's important to ensure they all know about and agree to the sale, or heirs can pop up and drag you into many annoying problems that might deny you a peaceful stay in your new home. 

A title search uncovers all these possibilities, including helping you know if the seller can't sell it legally due to something in their relative's will. The search ensures the original owner didn't will it to another person who might arise and disrupt the purchase.  

7. Public record errors

Public records ought to be accurate, but human error is real. Land officials file millions of deeds, documents, and surveys annually, so it's not strange for mistakes to occur. These records can contain misspelled words or names, or incorrect phone numbers or addresses. An accurate title search can detect all these challenges before proceeding with a home sale.

8. Divorce edicts

A divorce can have far-reaching implications on a family's financial stability. Divorce edicts can delay or derail your home purchase. This situation can arise if a divorced seller lost some or all of the property you want to buy during a settlement. 

This loss means you must involve the other party in the selling process. Failing to involve the other divorced party – or their refusal to consent to the sale – could stall the entire selling process. Performing a title search reveals all these facts and saves you unnecessary headaches.

9. Impersonators  

Finally, duly performed title searches can reveal if the home seller is an impersonator. Impersonators are common in home-selling deals. They can steal a valid owner's name and other identification documents to use them in illegal property deals. You don't want to waste your money on a null and void transaction when the valid owner surfaces. So, take your time and verify the facts using a title search.

Get help with title searches in Florida 

The prospect of owning a home is a significant milestone in your life. The road can be bumpy, though, with the future carrying hidden problems that could arise after settling into a home.

It's beneficial to verify that your prospective property's title is clean before closing on it. A title search comes in handy at this time to reveal any red flags, potentially saving you problems (and possible loss of your money) following a blind deal.

A real estate attorney can help detect and handle all possible red alerts before proceeding with a transaction. PeytonBolin offers title search and other legal advice that enable you to buy properties with peace of mind. Reach out to our office today for affordable and excellent title search services.

About the Author

Jane F. Bolin, Esq.

Founding Member, Managing Partner


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