If you are in the middle of purchasing property in Massachusetts, you may wonder why the process takes so long. It may seem like days or weeks go by with no progress, and when you contact your real estate agent, you may learn that they are still waiting for the title company to finish the title search for the property you want to buy.
A title search can be a critical stage in your real estate purchase because, if the search turns up any issues, the process may come to a screeching halt while you work to resolve them. Understanding the kinds of issues that are common with a title may help you know the steps to take to resolve them so you can move forward with your plans.
Clouds on your title
The title of the property shows whether the seller has the legal right to offer you the property. Occasionally, someone else has a legal claim to the property, which means the seller may not have the freedom to offer it for sale. You certainly want to make sure the title of the property is clean. If there are problems, often known as "clouds" on the title, you may have difficulty selling the property in the future.
When the title search is complete, you will receive a report that identifies whether there are clouds, such as the following:
- Creditors of past owners may have placed liens on the property, which means they can claim it to satisfy a debt that is not yours.
- Someone without legal rights to the property may have made a deed, such as a minor, someone without the mental capacity for legal transactions, or someone who misrepresented his or her marital status.
- An heir of a previous property owner may have unclaimed rights to the property.
- Documents on the history of the property may contain forgeries or misrepresentations.
- The property may have easements or boundary disputes that the owner has not disclosed to you.
Even simple clerical mistakes, such as spelling the owner's name wrong or filing the documents in the wrong place, may cloud your ability to purchase the property without facing a complex resolution process. If you are facing any of the above or other clouds on the title of a property you wish to purchase, you would benefit from the knowledge of an experienced attorney who will advise you on the most efficient way to clear the title so you can reach your goals.