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What Will Your Title Search Uncover?

Last updated on: March 26, 2024

Conducting a title search is a critical step in buying real estate, serving as a detailed review of public records to verify legal ownership and discover any claims or restrictions on a property. This thorough examination reveals important details, such as hidden liens, easements, covenants, or potential title disputes from heirs. It’s important to fully understand a property’s title history and any legal complexities to protect your investment. A title search helps you become informed of legal issues that might impact your ownership rights, offering reassurance that the property matches its representation.

In the complex landscape of New Jersey real estate, unexpected title issues can surface. This is where a dedicated New Jersey real estate attorney becomes invaluable. At The Matus Law Group, our skilled attorneys can assist you in purchasing real estate and navigate the intricacies of title searches to protect your investment. Contact us today at (732) 785-4453 to schedule a consultation.

Below we have outlined some of the issues which could be uncovered during a real estate title search:

Nothing

Obviously, this is the best possible outcome for any prospective home buyer. Your goal is that your title search will find absolutely no issues of note—known as a “clean” title. This will probably be the case for a majority of home buyers, but you can never assume that your title search will fail to uncover anything. In fact, you should normally approach the title search from the perspective of hoping for the best but planning for the worst. Prepare yourself to deal with issues that turn up on the home’s title, and if nothing does you will be pleasantly surprised.

Liens

Every home buyer must be very aware of potential liens that could be on the property. A lien is an official claim against a property by someone other than the owner as collateral and potentially payment for unpaid debts or liabilities. For example, the IRS could place a lien on a home if the owner has significant unpaid taxes. Additionally, all mortgage companies place a mortgage lien on a home when the owner finances with them. What this means for you as a buyer, if your title search uncovers a past lien, is that another party has a right to that property and you will have to take steps to have the lien released if you are going to purchase the home. Uncovering liens from previous owners is most common when purchasing foreclosures.

False, Illegal, or Inaccurate Documentation

There are numerous issues that could be discovered regarding the documentation of the home. Documents and records that were submitted to local housing authorities could be found to be forgeries or even have typos and other errors that invalidate them. It may seem unlikely, but clerical and filing errors occur all the time, and they can have a major impact on your ability to purchase a home, and even your legal ownership of a home if you purchase it and the issue is uncovered after the fact. These types of issues must be uncovered and corrected as soon as possible.

Easements and Survey Issues

Generally speaking, an easement is a legal right of way on a property. For example, the property may include a utility easement allowing the city or county to access and perform work on certain parts of your land, or your driveway may include an easement allowing another adjacent property owner to utilize it to access his or her own property. A previously unknown easement that is uncovered in the title search could severely impact how you are able to utilize and enjoy the property if you purchase it. Additionally, not all land surveys are created equally. The title search could uncover multiple surveys displaying different results regarding the property boundary of the home.

Inheritance Issues

If you are seeking to purchase a home from someone who inherited the property, the title search could discover other heirs who share the claim to the property and have not agreed to sell it. Similarly, the search could uncover a previously undiscovered will ceding the property to heirs who were unaware of their claim. An inheritance issue could become a major roadblock to your ability to purchase the home.

This is just a brief sample of some of the problems that can arise and be uncovered in a title search. However, it is far better to discover these issues BEFORE you purchase a home rather than after. If you are considering purchasing real estate, please contact the Matus Law Group today and let us guide you throughout the process, including conducting an efficient and effective title search.

Potential Issues Uncovered in Real Estate Title Searches Description
Liens Potential claims against the property by entities other than the owner, such as unpaid taxes or mortgage liens, requiring resolution before purchase.
False, Illegal, or Inaccurate Documentation Discovery of forged or erroneous documents submitted to housing authorities, which can impact ownership rights and require correction.
Easements and Survey Issues Identification of legal rights of way (easements) or conflicting land surveys affecting property usage and boundaries, potentially limiting property enjoyment.
Inheritance Issues Uncovering other heirs or undisclosed wills regarding property inheritance, posing obstacles to the purchase process if ownership claims are disputed.

What Documents Are Examined When Looking For Property Titles?

For a successful property title search in New Jersey, it is crucial to thoroughly examine legal documents to verify ownership legitimacy and detect any possible liens or burdens. This detailed investigation is vital for protecting buyers and lenders from future legal and financial issues during real estate transactions.

The list of documents reviewed during a property title search typically includes:

  • Deeds: These are pivotal in tracing the ownership history of the property, showing previous and current owners, and verifying the seller’s right to sell.
  • Bankruptcy Records: These can indicate whether past or present owners have filed for bankruptcy, which could potentially affect the status of the property title.
  • Divorce Cases: Divorce settlements can impact property ownership, especially if the property was jointly owned, and may indicate a division of assets.
  • County Land Records: These encompass a variety of documents related to the property, including past transactions, which are essential for establishing a clear history of ownership.
  • Financial Judgments: Any financial judgments against the property or its owners must be addressed, as they can lead to liens or other claims on the property title.

By meticulously analyzing the documents, lawyers can piece together the property’s history, spot any discrepancies or issues, and tackle them before transferring the property. This thorough examination is essential for a legal property transfer and protects everyone’s interests. 

Consulting with a New Jersey real estate attorney from The Matus Law Group is recommended, our attorneys have the experience to handle title search complexities and address possible problems. Contact us at (732) 785-4453 to schedule a consultation.

Christine Matus

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Christine Matus

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