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10 Common Title Problems

Ever thought about why title insurance is crucial? 

Even though your home is new to you, every property has a backstory. A title search can reveal any title defects linked to your property. Plus, depending on the policy terms, title insurance might shield you from title-related problems found after you complete your transaction.

Here are some typical title issues:

1. Mistakes in Public Records

Mistakes happen — and when they impact your rights as a homeowner, they can be serious. Errors in paperwork or filing might impact the official documents related to your property, like the deed or survey. Fixing these errors can be financially burdensome.

2. Boundary/Survey Disputes 

Despite having reviewed multiple property surveys before buying, there could be other surveys with conflicting boundary lines. This opens the possibility for a neighbor or another party to assert ownership over a portion of your property.

3. Unlawful Deeds

Even if the ownership history of your property seems fine, there’s a chance that a past deed was created by someone who is undocumented, underage, mentally incapacitated or falsely claimed to be single when married. These situations can impact the validity of earlier deeds, influencing past (and potentially current) ownership.

4. Unknown Liens 

Previous property owners might not have been great at keeping records or settling debts. Even if you didn’t incur those debts, financial institutions can place liens on your property for unpaid debts from previous owners, even after you’ve completed the purchase. This is particularly concerning with distressed properties.

5. Forged Documents  

Regrettably, the world isn’t always straightforward. Occasionally, dishonest individuals file forged or fake documents in public records, creating confusion about the true ownership of a property. When these forgeries are discovered, it could jeopardize your rights to your home.

6. Missing Heirs 

When someone passes away, their property ownership typically transfers to heirs or those specified in their will. However, these heirs might be absent or unknown when the person passes away. Alternatively, family members may dispute the will to claim their own property rights. These situations, even occurring long after your property purchase, could impact your rights to the property.

7. Undiscovered Encumbrances

In the realm of homeownership, surprises aren’t always pleasant. At the point of purchase, you might not be aware that a third party has a right to some or all of your property. This could be due to a past mortgage, a lien or non-financial claims, such as restrictions or agreements that limit how you can use your property.

8. Hidden Easements

Even if you own your new home and its land, there might be an unknown easement that restricts your use of the property or grants access to government agencies, businesses, or other parties. While not typically financial concerns, easements can still impact your ability to fully enjoy and utilize your property as you wish.

9. Undiscovered Will

If a property owner passes away without an apparent will or heir, the state might sell their assets, including the home. When you buy such a property, you believe you’re the rightful owner. However, even years later, the deceased owner’s will might emerge, putting your property rights at significant risk.

10. Deceptive Impersonation of Former Owner

Similar or common names can lead to false “impersonation” of a property owner. If you buy a home that was previously sold by someone falsely claiming ownership, you run the risk of losing your legal right to the property.

Ensure your peace of mind by considering an owner’s policy of title insurance, which often covers these and other potential issues. When making a home purchase, prioritize safeguarding your investment by opting for title insurance.


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