There aren’t many things more frustrating than discovering a title issue when you’re ready to close on a property. This is particularly true because title issues are accountable for some of the most common legal issues that can cause an abrupt halt to a real estate deal.
Real estate title issues come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some are more serious than others, but it’s not exaggerating to say that some real estate title issues have been known to stop a real estate deal in its tracks. In fact, it’s possible for a real estate title issue to render a title basically worthless.
If you’re terrified, you can relax. Almost every real estate title issue has a solution. The solution just depends on the issues surrounding the deal and the facts related to the property and the real estate transaction. The most helpful thing you can do to minimize trouble resulting from title issues is to identify the problem as soon as possible. This is essential when attempting to resolve an issue while minimizing trouble and expense.
The prevalence of title issues is one of the many reasons people depend on real estate attorneys when buying or selling real estate. Their experience is invaluable in discovering and resolving potential issues with real estate titles. Your real estate lawyer will complete a thorough review of your title commitment and your current survey, which will reveal most potential title issues.
3 Most Common Title Issues:
Blanket Easements: Sometimes referred to as a floating easement, this is an easement, which is a right to use or cross over someone else’s property, that is not limited to a particular portion of the servient tract over which it was granted. Instead the blanket easement or floating easement encumbers the entire tract and generally creates a significant title defect because the property owner’s rights to use the property are significantly limited or prohibited by the easement holder’s rights. A blanket easement can arise unintentionally from ambiguous language and otherwise prohibit the free use of your own property.
Boundary Issues: Fairly common, boundary issues usually result from the true boundary being located in a different spot than the owner believes it to be located. In other situations, the boundary lines may change due to actions on the part of the owner (or inaction on the part of the owner). For instance, boundary lines can be changed due to adverse possession or agreements that are put in place with adjacent property owners. Unresolved boundary issues can eventually mean that the record owner is divested of title to some or all of the property in question, including improvements to the property. The most common is simply when a contractor put up a new fence and did not follow the proper boundary lines and strayed off track.
Errors or Omissions in the Chain of Title: Errors or omissions in the chain of title are frequently a result of sloppy documenting or undocumented property transfers. This type of issue arising from careless drafting include: Inaccurate or invalid legal descriptions, mistaken/misnamed parties, omitted parties, ineffective acknowledgements, unrecorded mortgages, incorrect assignments of mortgage, etc. Undocumented conveyances are usually the result of undocumented intestate transfers amongst family members or failing to open a probate estate for a landowner after they pass. The severity of chain of title issues varies greatly, but when in doubt, it is best to have an experienced real estate attorney representing your interests.
If you are considering buying or selling a property and you have questions about how to avoid common title problems and legal issues that can disrupt your closing, please get in touch with one of the experienced real estate attorneys at Aronow Law PC today.