When you’re making a large investment, it makes sense to do some research first. This is why property title searches take place before you make a real estate purchase. A thorough review of available records can ensure that the person selling you the property is legally able to do so and that there are no hidden issues that could prevent you from taking possession.
Unfortunately, title search issues are not uncommon. The American Land Title Association once estimated that title problems are found in 36% of all residential real estate transactions, requiring the prospective buyer to obtain a release before they could take possession. Below is an overview of four of the most commonly-encountered title search issues.
Liens are placed on real estate for a multitude of reasons that include claims for unpaid construction wages, child and spousal support arrears, outstanding tax bills, and other judgments against the property. Once a claimant attaches a lien, it affects the owner’s ability to sell or refinance the property.
- Survey Disagreements
You may have documentation that shows your property with certain boundaries, while your neighbor may have another survey that indicates you are encroaching on their land. A survey dispute can prevent you from developing, building on, or even using a piece of real estate, which is a major consideration when you run a construction company.
- Heirs Who Cannot Be Located
When someone passes away, their real estate holdings usually go to whoever is named in their will or entitled to receive the property under the laws of intestacy. Sometimes these named or legal heirs cannot be located at the time of the property owner’s death. In other cases, relatives may contest the will to assert their property rights. Until legal ownership of the land is settled, your ability to take possession is unlikely.
- Illegal Deeds
There are many reasons why a deed can become illegal. They could have been signed by a minor, someone who is mentally incompetent, a married person who insisted that they were single (to keep their spouse from becoming aware of the sale), or deliberately forged. If any of these situations come to light, research will need to be done to get an accurate picture of who currently owns the property.
The booming real estate market has increased the number of property transactions, which means that more title problems are coming to light. This demonstrates the importance of a professional title search in all real estate transactions, so that your dream home doesn’t become a costly nightmare.
These title issues are frustrating to deal with, which is why you want to work with legal professionals who know what to look for during property record searches. At Rosen Law, our real estate transaction attorneys have years of closing experience and have helped many clients navigate the sometimes-confusing issues that can arise during a sale. To schedule a consultation, please call (516) 437-3400.