When you purchase a piece of property here in Boston, or anywhere else for that matter, you want as much assurance as possible that you will actually own the property free and clear. You may assume that once the relevant parties execute a deed putting the real estate in your name that task is accomplished.
Unfortunately, that may not always be the case. As half of poet Alexander Pope’s idiom goes, “to err is human,” and any time a human is involved in the transfer of property from one person to another, mistakes can happen. Those mistakes could prevent you from truly owning that piece of property you are about to purchase. For this reason, you should conduct a title search in order to flag any of those errors.
What types of errors happen most often?
When it comes to mistakes in title records, the ones listed below appear most often:
- Someone else still has a right to ownership of the property.
- Someone made an error when recording the document in the official records.
- Someone made a typographical error in the document that affects the property’s description or ownership.
- Concerns exist regarding fraud or forgery of certain title documents.
- Someone did not properly record any easements.
- Liens or court judgments against the property remain in the records.
- Discrepancies exist regarding the chain of title.
- The deed descriptions of the property are inconsistent, vague or otherwise unclear in the records.
Other issues could arise in the title search that could put your ownership of the property in jeopardy. These matters will require resolution prior to the closing in order to ensure that you own the property outright. Doing so often requires tracking down individuals who may have an ownership interest in the property. It may also require contacting lien holders such as mortgage companies, construction contractors or taxing authorities to determine whether someone filed a lien release or if the debt still exists.
When you cannot resolve issues regarding the title through negotiation, it may be necessary to take the matter to court. It will then be up to you to decide whether you wish to exercise your rights under the purchase contract to back out of the transaction or if you want to move forward to clear the title and complete the transaction. In any case, you would be wise to work with an experienced attorney to satisfactorily resolve the issue no matter which avenue you choose.