When it comes to
real estate transactions, buyers must be aware that all homes have a history. Title
searches can uncover what are called “title defects,” which can cause serious problems for buyers. So, what are the
common title issues that buyers should be aware of and look for?
There are about a dozen or so issues that could arise with a title search,
such as: errors in public records, unknown liens, illegal deeds, missing
heirs, forgeries, undiscovered encumbrances, unknown easements, disputes
over boundaries or surveys, an undiscovered
will, or even a previous owner who falsely impersonated a property owner.
Let’s examine some of these title problems a little closer:
1. An Unknown Lien
The previous owner of the home may have not been a meticulous bill payer.
Even if you are not the one who accumulated the former debt, a bank or
other creditor can place a lien on your new home for unpaid debts of the
previous owner, even after the transaction has closed. If you’re
considering a distressed property, this is of special concern to you.
2. An Illegal Deed
At first glance, the chain of title on your property may appear legally-sound,
but that doesn’t mean it is. It’s possible that a prior deed
was made by someone who was an illegal immigrant, a minor, someone who
was mentally ill, or someone who was cognitively impaired. When such an
issue arises, there may be challenges in enforcing a prior deed, possibly
affecting your ownership of the property.
3. An Heir is Missing
When a homeowner dies, his or her home may pass on to an heir named in
their will. However, sometimes such an heir is missing and cannot be located
at the time of the decedent’s death. In other cases, the family
may contest the will and fight for the property. In either situation,
which can arise years after you purchase a property, your ownership rights
could be threatened.
4. Fraud and Forgeries
Unfortunately, there are dishonest individuals who commit fraud and forgery
and real estate transactions are not immune. Sometimes, fraudulent individuals
submit forged documents that become public record, in effect obscuring
the ownership rights of the property. When such forgeries come to light,
they can affect the homeowner’s rights to the property, even if
they are not the ones who committed the fraud.
Do you have a title issue? To get the professional assistance you need,
contact my Nashville real estate firm at (888) 492-4735 today.