What is a Title Search?
In Pennsylvania, when buying a home, it’s the buyer’s responsibility to have title insurance. This means the buyer is also responsible for paying the costs of a title search. This may lead some to consider skipping out on the title search and its costs, but we recommend against it. A title search completed by a title company reveals information you need to know about your property.
This can include things that would cause you to unknowingly take on debt or be unable to purchase the rights to the property. Something like this could be catastrophic for anyone’s finances. Let us help you understand why and how you should prevent this from being you.
What Does a Title Search Uncover?
A title search is conducted when you purchase title insurance, which we have a company dedicated to providing. They will do this by conducting a public record search into the property’s history to find any possible issues that could affect your transaction.
Common issues a title search can uncover include:
- Illegal deeds: When someone tries to sell or buy a property without proper permission to do so, it can make the current deed illegal while also possibly damaging the enforceability of current and prior deeds. An example of someone utilizing an illegal deed would be a minor, an undocumented immigrant, someone of unsound mind, or a thief of the deed.
- Public records errors: People can make mistakes at any level of documentation. It doesn’t have to be just a mistake made between the past and present buyers and sellers of the property. Someone at the county level can make a clerical error on the title or deed of the home. This can become a costly error to resolve.
- Unknown liens: Prior owners, either the current sellers or those before, can have a debt on the property, or one that levied the property as collateral. Creditors can then place liens on the property to get their payment from the next person or persons who own the property.
- Forged documents: You can’t assume that every document the seller gives you is true. It’s not uncommon to be given forged documents like a title or deed illegally signed. The worst examples of this are when it’s recorded by the country clerk and becomes part of the property’s permanent record.
- Missing heirs: Purchasing a property is a long process, long enough that the one selling it can die. Should that happen, and the seller has someone in their will who gets the property, that’s someone who can interrupt and potentially stop the property sale with their own claim.
What Do If an Issue Appears in my Title Search?
Should any of these aforementioned problems come up in your title search, it’s time to file a title insurance claim. This is most important if you have gone through the purchase process or plan to. Depending on your insurer, they may resolve any of these issues through a multitude of manners.
For example, if a creditor or debt collector comes to collect the house, your insurer may decide it’s best to pay off the amount owed on the house. A less severe example would be a mistake in the property line on any of the documents and your neighbor wanting you to move your fence to match. Your insurer can cover the costs of installing a new fence.
Why Choose Our Title Insurance Lawyers?
Mazzoni Valvano Szewczyk & Karam goes further than most real estate law firms. We not only provide representation in your home purchases, but we also provide insurance through Keystone Abstract Services. We’re in your corner, and doing our best to help you every step of the way.
With our Scranton real estate attorneys working by your side, we’ll make sure your transaction will go smoothly for you. Should there be a problem, we’re there to handle it. Contact our Northeast Pennsylvania title insurance attorneys today for more information.