Many situations may affect title to your property including recording errors and boundary disputes. These disputes could cost you thousands, even if the dispute was prior to your ownership. Sellers and buyers need to be equally aware of potential issues with property transactions. Though not as common, a seller could be saddled with the cost of a property dispute. This usually happens when a problem with the property was not discovered when the seller originally purchased the property but was found at the time the seller entered into a contract with a new buyer.
Issues with Titles
Several issues with titles may affect buyers and sellers, and some may affect buyers many years after they purchased the property. Issues include:
Filing errors. This happens when the person filing a deed or title makes a clerical error. Errors may be carried for years before they are found.
Illegal deeds. The title chain for your property may look sound; however, at some point, someone who was not legally able to sign a deed may have signed a deed. People who are not legally able to sign deeds for property transactions include illegal immigrants, minors, someone who says he or she is single but is really married or someone of unsound mind. Even if one of these people signed the deed to your property in a transaction that took place many years ago, it could possibly affect your ownership rights.
Wills and heirs. A property that has gone through probate presents its own possible problems. A will could turn up years later or heirs that were not found at the time of the probate could make a claim years down the line. Both scenarios could affect your property rights.
Additional issues may include unknown liens, forgeries, encumbrances that are not discovered at the time of the sale, easements, boundary or survey disputes and even the false impersonation of the previous owner could all affect ownership.
Avoiding Title Disputes
In many cases, it is impossible to avoid title disputes. However, you are able to take steps to protect yourself from the financial cost of those title disputes.
When purchasing or selling a property, have a survey done. Even if the seller had a survey done, the purchaser should also have a survey done, unless the survey certified and recorded the survey, and the survey matches any filed plat maps or other surveys that may have been filed.
As part of the purchase, the lender charges the buyer for a title insurance policy. However, that insurance policy only protects the lender, not the buyer. If it is optional for a buyer to obtain his or her own title insurance, always opt to purchase it for yourself. If the title search does not uncover issues with the property at the time of closing, but issue crop up later, the title insurance covers those issues.
For boundary disputes, be sure to know where the lines and corners of your property are located. When you do the survey, have the surveyor show you and clearly mark the boundaries. The surveyor should mark the boundaries in such a way so that even if someone moves a marker, the surveyor will be able to go to that marked place. Generally, this is a piece of metal deep in the ground.
Always use an attorney for closing, whether you are purchasing or selling your home. Contact Glassman, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox if you are ready to sell your home or purchase a new home, or if you have a title dispute.