Everyone knows that humans are prone to error. Where property titles are concerned, there are numerous ways mistakes can happen, both intentional and unintentional. As a real estate agent, oil or gas company representative, or anyone with interest in a specific property, existing title issues can manifest, leading to project disruption, litigation and frustration for everyone involved. Though there are many others, here are the five common title issues that could be a cause for concern.
- Liens. It’s not possible to fully comprehend the fiscal responsibility of previous owners. In some cases, bills left unpaid can result in a financial institution or lender owning part or all of a property. If an unknown lien is affecting ownership, any plans to develop, sell or improve upon a property must be put on hold.
- Forgery. Documents that were completed fraudulently can become intertwined with deed information for a specific property. When this occurs, it will take time to track and correct the forged documents before an accurate picture of property ownership is portrayed in public records.
- Document errors. Errors happen and always will. A simple error in one or two places in public records can result in an inability to determine true land ownership until further research is conducted. Even the smallest error can result in significant delays, particularly for professionals with interest in the land.
- Survey disputes. Sometimes, disputes occur between land surveys. One property owner may have documentation that portrays a tract of land differently than another. If you are a professional with interest in the land, a survey dispute between owners can affect your ability to move forward with a project – and cost company downtime.
- Missing heirs. After the death of a property owner, probate issues can put property ownership in jeopardy. If no one was assigned to take over ownership or if unassigned heirs attempt to take part or all of a property, any work being conducted is subject to delay until legal ownership of the property is determined.
Can Online Public Records Help?
A study by the American Land Title Association (ALTA) found that 25 percent of all residential property transactions require “curative action” before closing.
If obtaining documents directly from the source, little help is offered when there’s a significant title issue. As a land professional, however, your ability to work may be affected by unresolved liens, disputes or ownership issues.
Given these common title issues, and others like them, it’s wise to enlist the help of professionals to correct any existing title problems.