When lawyers and other real estate professionals talk about "title," they are referring to who has legal ownership and the right to use a piece of property. Although the idea of legal title can be applied to anything, people most often use it in reference to real estate and automobiles, because those are substantial purchases which can have complicated ownership arrangements. Defective titles can result in problems establishing ownership, which can complicate resale or impact the exercise of rights over property.
Problems with Title in Real Estate
Even though you may have bought a house, and paid off the mortgage, you may not necessarily have clear title to your property. Some of the "clouds" or "exceptions" to your title can include:
Buyer's Protections against Title Defects
Fortunately, there are several things you can do when buying a home to minimize any problems from a defective title. The first is to perform a title search, which most real estate attorneys would be happy to do. A title search will discover many of these defects before you buy a house, so that you know what you're getting into.
The second is to write a contingency into your home purchase agreement that states that if the current owner cannot prove that they have clear title, then you can back out of the agreement at no additional cost. That way, you're not obligated to buy anything with a defective title.
Finally, if you discover that there is a problem with your title after you purchase the house, one option is to buy title insurance. Title insurance covers you in case someone who thinks they have a claim to your land sues to quiet title.
Have Legal Questions About Home Titles? An Attorney Can Help
Title issues can have a huge impact on the rights to real property and a person's ability to sell it. They can result in huge financial losses, unnecessary lawsuits, and uncertainty about your rights. A local attorney real estate attorney will be able to cut through the legalese and give you the right advice.