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When title disputes cast a cloud on your closing

A host of unknowns often tempers the excitement of buying a new home. Often, secrets about a house and property are not evident on walk-throughs or even inspections. You may be living in your home for months or years before you realize that the roof leaks or the plumbing is deteriorating.

Another unknown is often the history of the title of the property. The title is the evidence of ownership, proof of your legal right to the house. When you buy a house, the title passes from the previous owner to you. The last thing you want is a cloud on your title.

Common clouds

A cloud on a title is a potential claim that someone else may have over the property you are trying to buy. There are dozens of reasons why someone may have a right to dispute the property title, for example:

  • Someone bequeathed the property to another in a will or trust.
  • The property was part of a divorce settlement.
  • The previous owner neglected to file for release of a judgment lien after a bankruptcy.
  • The property was part of a court judgment.
  • A contractor failed to release a mechanic's lien placed to ensure payment before doing repairs or improvements on the property.

A title may also carry a lien for past due taxes, spousal support or child support. In the case of support payments, your representative would have to locate the parent or spouse who placed the lien and have that person sign a release indicating the debt has been paid.

Finding these or other title clouds often takes an extensive search. Resolving them may require something as simple as getting a signature on a quitclaim deed or release of lien. However, someone with a claim to the property may be difficult to locate, or the person may decide to dispute the sale of the property to you.

Protecting the title of your new home

Title searches in Delaware and beyond can be complex, and if you do not complete yours thoroughly, you may run into problems with your home ownership further down the road. To avoid this, there are steps you may take. First, you may consider purchasing title insurance, which will protect you from any issues that may arise after you close on your house.

Additionally, having an experienced attorney to clear the title of your new home can ensure that your closing goes smoothly. An attorney with outstanding resources will do comprehensive research on the property you intend to purchase and resolve possible issues to clear the title of the house you hope to make your home.

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