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On The Move... A Blog for Buyers & Sellers!

Golden Plains Realty

Friday, November 15, 2013

Title Issues

Title searches go on behind the scenes and are something that a buyer or seller would never think about, however you need to. If a property is being sold and there is more than one person involved with ownership, you need to make sure you have whatever legal documentation to provide to the title company or closing attorney’s office in regards to that. For example, if you are selling your deceased Aunt’s home, make sure you have documentation that shows that you have the legal authority to do so.

In a situation where a property is being sold on behalf of a seller by their legal representatives, you also need to find out who is able to sign the documents on behalf of the seller. If there are multiple people involved – siblings, nieces, nephews – find all of this out ahead of time. The same applies with changes in marital status – you need to check with your attorney to ensure a smooth transaction with respect to who is required to sign when buying and/or selling – will one or both spouse’s signatures be required?

Issues can also arise from errors made on mortgages and deeds that are prepared in which the property address was not correct. It is not uncommon to encounter a mortgage note that was erroneously recorded to the wrong property or an incorrect address that was typed on a deed. Although these mistakes are clerical in nature, one wrong address number can throw a wrench in things.

I recently encountered a situation where I was handling the sale of a condominium that was owned by one person and another set of owners turned up on the title search as owning the unit! The seller was just as shocked as I was. It turns out another property owner in the same complex had the unit number of the condominium I was selling typed on their deed! Simple enough correction, right? Not so fast. In this situation, the additional parties have to be tracked down in order to sign release documentation.  This may not be easy as the owners in question have to be located and contacted.  This can easily cause unanticipated delays in the closing process.

Two preventative steps a seller can take:

  1. Check the documents pertaining to your home purchase in the appropriate county or local government office that handles the recording of deeds and mortgages. In some states, this is the clerk of the court in the county or town where the property is located. Many municipalities have made this information accessible online, but in some cases you may need to call or visit the office in person. Check the names and addresses on the loan documents
  2. Consider having a title search run by a title company or closing attorney’s office. The cost is around $85 and is well worth it to confirm all information. You won’t be able to determine if your property has been erroneously recorded to another person by checking public records on your own, but a title search can help in this regard.