I don’t want to speak title jargon. What’s a Title Claim? What’s a Title Challenge? When I say there’s hidden risk, how can you tell if you can’t see it? I might just be making up words.
I can be pretty detached from Standard English. Real Estate is not a Romance Language—it’s full of big words that are often compressed into nonsensical acronyms. I’m an industry insider, fluent in Property Pidgin from any Landguage. My job is to translate it to you.
Let’s talk title. Real Estate Title is a combination of all the elements that constitute the highest legal right to own, possess, use, control, enjoy, and dispose of real estate or an inheritable right or interest therein. It is the rights of ownership recognized and protected by the law. Sometimes problems occur with the property title, including errors or omissions in deeds, mistakes in examining public records, forgery (yaouch!), or undisclosed heirs.
These are the kinds of problems you can’t see coming—someone down at the courthouse made an error in recording a deed, someone at the title company (not mine I hope!) missed a claim on public record, someone forged a document, or the heirs of a previous owner came forward within their allotted 30 years to stake their claim.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of title problem it is, the bottom line is that you as the property owner have to fix it. If your ownership is being challenged, you are responsible to defend your ownership. Make sense?
You have three options:
- Don’t defend your ownership and thereby lose your property.
- Rely on your own financial resources to either pay the claim or hire a lawyer to defend your ownership in a court of law (where you still might lose—then you’d be out the legal expenses as well as being out of your house).
- Buy Title Insurance which protects you from claims and legal fees.
You get to a closing table with a half-inch stack of documents to sign. I want you to walk away with a full understanding of the deal you just made, including the liability you take on with real estate ownership.
Don’t just take my word for it. For more real estate terms, check out the glossary at alta.org.