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Title disputes and real estate: Five things to know

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Real Estate |

Purchasing a home is a monumental step, but title disputes can turn this dream into a legal nightmare. It is helpful for homebuyers to understand the basics of title disputes to help reduce the risk of any surprises at closing.

Five common questions are answered below to help better ensure you understand the basics of title disputes.

#1: What is a title dispute?

A title dispute arises when there is a disagreement or uncertainty about the legal ownership of a property. Various things can trigger this dispute, including:

  • Undisclosed liens
  • Boundary disputes
  • Claims from previous owners

A title search can help to determine if there are any issues like those listed above.

#2: How can a title dispute impact my attempt to buy a home?

A title dispute can result in delays at closing while the buyer and seller work to resolve the dispute. If the parties cannot reach a resolution, the dispute could potentially derail the purchase.

#3: What are some common causes of title disputes?

Common triggers can include:

  • Errors in public records or legal documents
  • Conflicting wills and estates
  • Outstanding mortgages or liens against the property

In some cases, illegal deeds or forgeries can also pose a problem.

#4: How can I avoid a title dispute?

As noted above, it is a good idea to get a comprehensive title search. This will involve a company digging into the ownership details of the property and can uncover any potential issues before you move forward with the closing.

It is often wise to purchase title insurance to safeguard against future claims.

#5: What if I am in a title dispute? Any tips to help find a resolution?

Unfortunately, even with the steps taken above some homebuyers will find themselves in a title dispute. Depending on the details of the case, legal options for those who choose to move forward can include:

  • A lawsuit to establish ownership and clear the title
  • Negotiation with claimants to reach a settlement
  • Payment of outstanding debts or liens to release the title

Title disputes can be a significant obstacle in your home-buying journey, but you can navigate these challenges and secure your investment. Once you get over this hurdle, you can move forward with the peace of mind that comes with a clear title.