In real estate, a title defect (also referred to a “cloud on title”) is an issue interfering with the proper transfer of property ownership from the seller(s) to the buyer(s). During the settlement process, the title agent or closing attorney will conduct a thorough title search, reviewing the history of the deed through public records to determine if any other parties have any ownership stake in the property.
What Is a Title Search?
A title search also seeks to reveal if any liens or other claims against the piece of real estate are in effect. The overarching purpose of a title search is to identify such concerns and allow for the resolution of title defects, which is necessary loan settlement can occur.
Common Title Defects
Title defects may involve a wide range of encumbrances. Some of the most common defects include errors or omissions on public records, improperly probated wills, unidentified heirs, mechanic’s liens, tax liens, unpaid mortgages, and unknown easements, among others.
When title defects are discovered, the title agent initiates a remediation process to resolve the defect and render the title clear and free. While some types of clouds on title are corrected quickly (such as errors in public records), others may require more research, time, and even court proceedings to rectify.
The type of defect dictates the course of action taken to resolve the issue. In many cases, however, title problems are amended via the recording of a supportive or corrective document that supplies the accurate information and releases the encumbrance. (A quit claim deed is one such type of document.) Title defects that surface in the form of liens, judgments, or defaults on mortgages must be paid and receipt of payment must be submitted and recorded.
Protect Your Interests With Title Insurance
Though titles agents work diligently to conduct a thorough title search, there may be unidentified or unforeseen defects that surface after closing. The best way for homebuyers to protect their financial interests and prevent the loss or real property is through an Owner’s Title Insurance policy. This indemnity policy remunerates the homeowner in the event that a title defect arises and they subsequently lose their interest in the property. It can also cover the costs of defending their ownership stake in a court of law.
For all of your title needs, questions, and concerns, contact the knowledgeable team at Linear Title and Escrow today.