Owning the title to your property makes you the legal owner of that property. But, every property has a history, and a thorough title search can help uncover any title deficits tied to your property. And subject to the terms of the policy, your title insurance provides protection for you from title problems that may become known after you close on your property.
Some of these common title issues include:
1. Errors in public records
Clerical or filing errors could affect the deed or survey of your property and cause undue financial strain in order to resolve them.
2. Unknown liens
Banks or other financial institutions can place liens on your property for unpaid debts even after you have closed on the sale.
3. Illegal deeds
While the chain of title on your property may appear perfectly sound, it’s possible that a prior deed was made by an undocumented immigrant, a minor, a person of unsound mind, or someone who is reported single but in actuality married. These instances may
affect the enforceability of prior deeds, affecting prior (and possibly present) ownership.
4. Missing heirs
If someone doesn’t have their affairs in order, it could cause an obstacle when it comes to your property. When a person dies, ownership may fall to their heirs or others named in their will. But sometimes those heirs are missing or family members contest the will. These scenarios can affect your rights to the property.
Our reality is that we don’t live in an honest world. Forged and fabricated documents that affect property ownership sometimes wind up filed within public records. This obscures the rightful ownership of the property, jeopardizing your rights to the property.
6. Undiscovered encumbrances
Three can be a crowd, especially when it comes to owning a home. At the time of purchase, you may not know that a third party holds a claim to all or part of your property due to a former mortgage or lien, or non-financial issues like restrictions or covenants limiting the use of your property.
7. Unknown easements
Even if you own your home and property, unknown easements may prohibit you from using it as you’d like or could allow government agencies or businesses access to all or portions of your property, which affects your right to enjoy your property.
8. Boundary/survey disputes
Several surveys of your property may exist that offer differing boundary lines. This could allow a neighbor and someone else to claim ownership to part of your property.
9. Undiscovered will
When a property owner dies without an apparent will, the state may sell his or her assets, including his house. When you purchase a house, you assume you are the rightful owner. However, even years later, the deceased owner’s will may surface that could jeopardize your rights to the property.
10. False impersonation of previous owner
Common and similar names can make it possible to falsely impersonate a property owner. If you purchase a home that was once sold by a false owner, you can risk losing your legal claim to that property.
These issues are often covered under an owner’s title insurance policy. When you buy a home, ensure you are protecting this major investment with title insurance.