Title problems that could lead to litigation

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | Real Estate Litigation

When you find a home that you want to buy, you should have a thorough title search conducted. Just because a seller claims to offer a house with no problems, it does not mean you will not encounter issues and conflicts later on that could draw you into litigation.

Title defects can vary according to the specific history of a residence. Still, some title issues are quite common.

Errors in public records

A property deed may seem to be in order, but this is not always the case. A deed is the legal document that outlines ownership details and specifics about the home. If there are any clerical errors or missing information in the deed, corrections and a re-filing of the deed should take place before the completion of the sale.

Unpaid debts and liens

The presence of liens on the property could entangle your efforts to purchase ownership. If the seller has outstanding debts or unpaid taxes, creditors can place a legal claim of ownership on the title of the home through a lien. This means that the creditor maintains a legal interest in the property until the final payment of the debt.

Disputes over property boundaries

If there is not a clear definition of the boundaries of the property, a neighbor or public entity may try to claim ownership of a portion of the land. This could include the home encroaching on someone else’s property or part of the property being on public land.

Disputes over inheritance

If the current owner dies before selling the home, ownership disputes could later arise. Family members who were not present when the owner died could later come forward to claim their inheritance or contest the prior owner’s will. Even if the will is valid, its provisions about who owns the home may be unclear.

Forged or fraudulent deeds

Serious title issues can arise from fraudulent legal documents. For example, a previous owner may have illegally obtained the deed, perhaps by involving an undocumented immigrant, a minor or a person of unsound mind. Outright real estate fraud, such as someone impersonating the seller at the closing, can also lead to title complications.

With a comprehensive title search, it is possible to catch many of these defects before they arise during closing or after you buy the home.