A title opinion is a written report from an attorney explaining the state of ownership of a
certain piece of property based upon the attorney’s review of the property records in
the county where the property is located, also known as a title search. The title opinion
states any defects in the title to the property as well as any easements or other issues
that burden the property and could cause a Buyer not to receive clear title to the
Below are common title defects that can be discovered and possibly corrected by obtaining a title opinion before purchasing property.
1. Liens/Judgments/ Deeds of Trust
Prior owners may have gotten themselves into financial difficulties that resulted with liens or judgments being filed against their property or they may have financed the purchase of their property with a Deed of Trust. If the property is sold without a lien, judgement or deed of trust being paid, the Buyer can remain responsible for the payment of such. Some common examples include liens for HOA fees, mechanics or construction liens or tax liens. Even if the former debt was from a previous owner, banks and financing companies can require the new owner to pay what is owed in order to have a clear title to the property.
2. Invalid Power of Attorneys
People often grant to others a Power of Attorney which allows the other person to sign legal documents for the Grantor. Power of Attorneys can be very broad or limited in what they allow. A title search and opinion can validate that the document signed by the Power of Attorney was within the powers granted to the POA as well as to verify that the POA endorsed the document correctly.
3. Probate issues
Whether a person dies with or without a will, issues often arise as to ownership of a deceased person’s property. Additionally, heirs of a deceased will often contest the validity of a will. A title opinion will reveal if a will has been or is in probate or if there is any litigation involving the ownership of the property by heirs claiming an interest in the property.
4. Easements/ Right-of-Ways
Agencies, businesses, or groups have often been granted access, through an easement, to a homeowner’s property. Easements are often granted for indefinite periods of time. Easements may also prevent owners from using their land in certain ways. A title opinion can determine what easements exist on a piece of property and can allow a Buyer to determine if these easements affect their intended use of the property.
5. Chain of Title
A title search traces title to a parcel of property back from the current owner to the previous owners and verifies that the person claiming to own the property actually owns it. Every time a property changes hands documentation should be recorded which reflects this change of ownership. A title search and opinion verifies that these transactions were done correctly and that they conveyed full ownership to the property. For example, If a deed omitted one party’s signature in a conveyance this person or their heirs could later come forward and claim an interest in the property. A title opinion will reflect this discrepancy and allow it to be corrected before the property is sold.
Ultimately, many issues can arise which would cause a Buyer not to receive clear title to
property. By getting a title opinion, any issues with the title will be discovered and can
be addressed to assure the Buyer is receiving clear title upon purchase.
These concerns are critical to consider, and Johnson, Murrell, & Associates can provide
tips on all aspects of the process, including:
● Suggestions on when to place order
● Prior title policy
● New or existing surveys
● Sales contracts
Not to mention, Johnson, Murrell, & Associates has the real estate professionals in-house
who are experienced in giving title opinions.
No one wants to leave themselves open to title disputes. Dealing with these issues without an experienced professional can turn a positive home buying experience into a financial and emotional strain. Homeowners looking for a safeguard against any of these reasons to seek a title opinion can contact Johnson, Murrell, & Associates for a consultation, and rest assured that they are protected.