If you’re considering selling a piece of property or buying a new home, one of the first steps to the process is to have the title history investigated to make sure there are no outstanding liens or other claims to the property which can otherwise hinder the sale. Ideally, the title will be completely clear of third-party claims and indicate that the person who’s selling the property is in fact the uncontested owner. However, this isn’t always the case and title checks don’t always come up empty.
Here are five common title problems that could potentially come up in your search and seriously complicate the sale.
Public Record Errors
The first place that many title investigations will begin is in public record. The title history for each piece of property will be included in public record, including everything from how many times it has been sold to how many times it has been listed and the listing price each time. However, public records are kept by humans, which means they are prone to errors or mistakes. And even though there has never been a mistake in the past, there’s a strong possibility that one could have found its way in since your title was last checked. Resolving them can take a lot of time and even cost you a pretty penny if you try to tackle the issue on your own.
Do you know how good the previous owners of your property were at paying bills? You probably don’t, and the truth is if they weren’t all that good at making sure all their accounts were up to date, there could be a few unknown liens on your property. A delinquent account can’t necessarily stop the sale of a property, however an account that remains delinquent after the sale has closed could prompt the creditor to take action against the borrower, including putting a lien on their property… which they just sold to you. Lo and behold, you have a lien on your property for a debt that isn’t even yours.
Honesty is becoming a dying virtue these days it seems, and it’s not unheard of for scammers or thieves to try and weasel their way into an ownership claim on a piece of property by filing falsified or forged documents with local record clerks. This obscures rightful ownership to the piece of property, which jeopardizes your ability to sell and could even cause you to lose control of your property.
If a property owner dies and doesn’t appear to have a will, the state may choose to sell off their estate and pass the assets to the next of kin through the probate process. However, just because there was no apparent will at the time of the probate process doesn’t mean that there wasn’t one at all. Years later, a will can come to light and indicate who the deceased wish to pass ownership of the property on to. Even though you purchased the property normally at the time, this could lead to a complicated ownership claim that makes the sale of a property difficult.
If you have a common name like “John Smith,” you have the unfortunate quality of being particularly easy to impersonate. Crafty scammers will often use those with similar names to try and sell a piece of property they don’t actually own. By posing as the property’s owner, they list the property, run a title check that clears because their name matches up, and then take off with the proceeds never to be heard from again. Only now your property has a different claim of ownership on it, and proving that it wasn’t actually you who sold the property can be immensely difficult.
Clear Your Title; Contact an Attorney
So how can you protect your property’s title from any of these errors or potential flaws that can jeopardize your sale? The best way to fight back is by having a skilled Waterbury real estate attorney handle your case. A good attorney will be able to dig through the records, spot the inconsistencies, and work to rectify them in order to clear your title of errors and enable you to guarantee your right to ownership.Request a case evaluation by calling Fitzpatrick Mariano Santos Sousa P.C. today at (203) 583-8299!