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Clerical errors and other issues that can create title havoc

When you buy or sell a home, you hope that the transaction will go smoothly, but unknown forces may be at work to prevent that by putting the title of the property in limbo.

Here are five common title issues that could cause headaches for you.

1. Unanticipated liens

Perhaps you are buying a house but did not know that a former owner had a contractor do some work on it. The problem is that the homeowner did not pay the bill. The contractor put a lien on the house, which might not even come to light until after you have closed on the transaction.

2. Will problems

When a property owner passes away, proper documents attesting to the transfer of ownership must be filed. Sometimes, however, heirs cannot be located or were unknown at the time of the owner’s death. The other common problem is that family members might contest the will, and this could happen a good while after you have bought the property.

3. Disputes over boundaries

Although deeds to properties contain clear descriptions of boundaries, the descriptions can blur over time, usually because neighbors tend to come up with verbal agreements about the lines between their properties.

4. Third-party claims

There may be a third-party claim that you have not known about; that is, a third party appears to own a portion of your property, or perhaps all of it. The reason for this could be an earlier mortgage, or, as mentioned above, a lien that on the property at some point.

5. Clerical errors

If the public records are without clarity in terms of the title passing from one owner to another, the problem may be as simple as an old clerical error. Obviously, the error requires fixing to clear the title. This is just one of several title issues you and your lawyer may run up against when you are buying or selling a home.

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