The title for your property is the record of ownership. You will have a deed passing title to you from the previous owner, which you will then have recorded with the county to make it official. Your title records show the history of ownership, as well as any liens against your property secured by creditors or contractors that have done work on your home.
Most people take for granted that the transfer of real estate will occur without incident and that their ownership of a property is absolute. However, there can be title issues that could delay a closing when you want to purchase real estate or even put you at risk of losing a property that you already own. What are some of the more common title issues?
Inaccurate lien records
Maybe you had the roof repaired on your home right before losing your job and couldn’t pay off the bill immediately. The company that did the work got a mechanic’s lien against your property, but you paid what you owed to them. It isn’t until you go to refinance or sell the home that you realize that the lien is still on the title for your property.
Inaccurate lien records or other errors on official title documents can complicate future real estate transactions and require that you go to court to clear them.
Fraudulent or forged documents
Not every real estate transaction is straightforward. Spouses sometimes withhold information to hide assets and income. Someone divorcing may need to sell a home and split the proceeds with their spouse.
People in many situations could forge documents to move a sale along or keep their spouse uninformed. Others might execute fraudulent documents, like a quitclaim deed to a property in which they hold no interest.
Missing heirs with a claim to the title
Executors handling estates that include real property should do their best to comply with the terms set by the testator and all applicable laws. Sometimes, however, heirs don’t receive proper notice of the assets they should have under probate laws or the terms set in a last will. If they learn later about the oversight, they could return with a claim to certain real estate holdings, even if it is now in someone else’s name.
Title disputes endanger not only your residence but also the investment you’ve made in your home. Careful research and professional help can make it easier for you to navigate a title dispute involving your home or investment property.