Real estate transactions are always a big deal, and for many people, buying or selling a home will be the biggest financial decision they make in their entire lives. However, a surprising number of people do not realize the risks that title defects can pose, making even the best new home into a potential nightmare. But what exactly is a title defect, and how can it affect your real estate transaction?
What is a Title Defect?
A title defect, broadly speaking, refers to any legal issue with a parcel of real estate that impairs the full and free use of that property for its intended purpose. This might include existing debts attached to the property, restrictions placed on how the property can be used and developed, or disputes over the ownership of the property itself. When a property has a known title defect, it is considered unmarketable, meaning it cannot be legally sold until the issue has been addressed.
What Types of Title Defects Are There?
There are a number of different types of title defects, including but not limited to:
- Unpaid mortgages or liens
- Unpaid secured loans using the property as collateral
- Unpaid property taxes
- Court judgments or settlements levied against the property
- Undisclosed easements or covenants
- Undisclosed or unknown heirs
- Disputes over property boundaries or survey results
- Errors in public records
- Mistakes on the property deed
What Problems Can a Title Defect Cause?
If a title defect is discovered before a real estate transaction is closed, the defect must be cured before it can be sold. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, depending on the nature and severity of the defect. If the defect is not discovered until after closing, that can create an even bigger set of issues between the buyer and the seller, and potentially result in litigation.
What Can You Do to Avoid These Problems?
There are a few things that can be done to help protect against potential title defects. First and foremost, a title search can help identify potential defects before the sale goes through, and title insurance can help protect against liability for any unknown issues. However, one of the most important steps to smoothing out these problems is to speak to a lawyer with experience handling real estate transactions, who can help you with any legal issues that may arise.
For more than 50 years, the New York lawyers at Elovich and Adell are ready to represent you in your real estate case. Our attorneys, conveniently located in Long Beach, handle personal injury, real estate, commercial transactions, criminal defense, and labor and employment claims all across New York State. For a consultation, please call us at 516-432-6263 or visit our contact page for more information.