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Title-Blog

What Happens During a Title Search?

Whether you want to buy or sell a home or commercial property, a clear title ensures no one else can claim ownership and that you have the legal right to own the property. Title searches are a necessary part of any real estate transaction. They must be performed by a licensed title search company or real estate lawyer in Orlando (or wherever the property is located). Below, we shed light on what goes into a title search when closing a real estate transaction in Florida.

What is a Title Search?

A title search reviews a property’s history to uncover any liens, disputes, or issues with the seller’s ability to sell the property you intend to buy. It examines who has the right to the property and lists any known claims, loans, or debts that may inhibit someone from selling it. Title searches ensure the buyer won’t be responsible for paying any party to settle a debt tied to the property once purchased.

How Title Searches Protect Buyers and Sellers

Title searches benefit both buyers and sellers in real estate transactions. The primary purpose of a title search is to ensure the buyer can legally purchase the home and that no one (other than the seller) can claim ownership of all or part of the property. If there is a lien or other claim on the home, it can’t be sold until the claim is settled. For sellers, title searches may uncover unknown issues with the ability to sell a property, such as an outdated lien an old contractor put on your home but never submitted the paperwork to remove it. A title search allows you to quickly help resolve those issues so you can sell your home.

Types of Claims Title Searches Uncover

There are several types of claims a real estate lawyer in Orlando can uncover when performing a title search. Here are the few common types of claims found during a property title search:

Easements

An easement is when an entity (usually a government or private company performing a public service) has the right to use someone else’s land for a specific reason, such as electricity, roadwork, pipelines, or maintenance. For example, a local city government may be authorized to access a part of your property to maintain electrical poles or waterlines.

Liens

A lien refers to the right to retain possession of someone else’s property until a debt is paid in full. Liens are legal tools contractors, construction companies, and home service providers use to ensure they get paid for their completed services. Liens permit contractors and service providers to make a legal claim against your property if they aren’t paid for their work.

Open Probate

A title search will show whether the property is part of an open or contested probate proceeding.

Boundary Disputes

Boundary disputes arise when there is a disagreement between property owners regarding the location of their property lines. While property lines should be surveyed and recorded on the property owner’s deed, discrepancies between surveys may lead to two people believing they own the same land. A title search will show whether the property boundary has been disputed in the past or if there is open litigation regarding the property.

How Title Searches are Conducted

A title search company or real estate lawyer performs title searches. The property’s public records, such as property ownership history, deeds, mortgages, liens, foreclosures, and tax assessments, will be accessed and examined during a title search. After collecting all the necessary public records, your Orlando real estate lawyer will compile a comprehensive report. This report will contain a detailed history of the property’s ownership and highlight any claims currently placed on the property. If there are no red flags, you can proceed with the purchase. If the report indicates claims against the property, they must be settled before the home can be purchased, or you’ll need to walk away from the deal.

Understanding Title Search Reports

Here’s a breakdown of what’s included in a title search report:

Apparent Title and Property Owner

This part of the report provides information about the current property owner based on public records. Don’t gloss over this part; you’ll want to ensure the information on the title report matches the seller’s name and contact information.

Property Description

The legal description details a comprehensive description of the property, including its specific location.

Muniments of Title

This part of the report shows the property’s ownership history and timeline. It will also denote anyone with interest in the property, such as a mortgage lender or bank. Any litigation regarding the property in the past will also be included here.

Mortgage and Tax Information

This section will list financial information regarding the property, including mortgages or loans associated with it. It will discuss when the mortgage origination date, the original loan amount, repayment terms, and whether it’s current or in default. It will also state the property’s current tax status and the estimated real estate taxes for the current year. 

Liens, Encumbrances, and Title Restrictions

This is the critical element of any title search report. It’s vital to ensure no liens or encumbrances on it. While liens are debts the current property owner must pay off before selling the property to you, encumbrances are interests other parties have in the property. Identifying and addressing any liens or encumbrances is crucial before finalizing a real estate transaction.

Handling Title Disputes

If the title search comes back with claims against the property, it’s vital to contact an experienced real estate attorney in Orlando to help resolve these issues. Title disputes can often be resolved by settling the lien (either by contesting it or paying it off) or by making a quiet title action. A quiet title action is a lawsuit that a property owner can file against a company that has made a lien against a property unfairly. The quiet title action could result in the removal of the claims against the property.

Boutty Law Firm: Orlando Real Estate Lawyer

Title disputes are complex issues that require the assistance of an experienced Orlando real estate lawyer. At the Boutty Law Firm, our experienced real estate lawyer can help you resolve any concerns regarding a property’s title. If a title search has revealed an open claim or lien on your home, please contact our office at 407-622-1395. Our lawyers will work with you to find the best option to resolve the issue so that you can confidently sell or buy the property.

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