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What are some common issues with titles?

Buying a home is one of the most complicated personal transactions someone can make. If you're purchasing a home that's had multiple owners over many years, you can't always know its full history. There may have been damage long ago that you're not aware of.

There may also be past issues with the title involving the current or previous owners. That's why a thorough title search is crucial.

The title search is typically done by a title company. It needs to make sure that the person selling the home has the legal right to do so. The title company will look for other potential problems with the title.

Following are some of the most common ones;

  • Liens on the property for unpaid debts or another party with a claim on the property
  • A prior deed made by someone not legally able to do so (such as a minor or an undocumented immigrant)
  • Fabricated or forged documents related to the property
  • Survey or boundary disputes that may call into question whether the seller actually can claim the entire amount of land you are purchasing
  • An undiscovered will or missing heir

Basically, any of these irregularities -- even if they occurred long ago -- impact the title. Even if they don't involve the current owner of the home that you're purchasing, they can affect the sale and maybe halt it.

Of course, the title company should discover any problems before the sale goes through. Sometimes, however, they don't come to light until later. That's why, if you're getting a mortgage, your lender will require you to buy title insurance. Experts recommend that all buyers of previously owned properties purchase this insurance.

If you run in to title issues, it may be wise to seek experienced legal guidance to determine what your rights and options are.

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