Susan Barilich, P.C.
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How one piece of paper carries so much weight

No, it's not a marriage license. It's the title to the property you want to buy. This one piece of paper gives you ownership rights over a piece of land here in California. You receive all of the rights and responsibilities that go along with that title -- or do you?

If the history of that piece of paper reveals problems, you may not actually receive full ownership of the property. That's why it's so vital that the purchase of title insurance is part of your real estate transaction.

What problems may the title have?

The most common issues that people come across even after conducting a title search include the following:

  • You may find it hard to believe, but cases of identity theft extend to real estate deals. If someone in the history of the property impersonated the real owner and sold it, your legal claim could be in jeopardy.
  • As long as humans input data into the public records, the possibility of mistakes remains. A filing or clerical error could affect your rights to the property.
  • If the state sold the property at some point because the previous owner appeared to have died without a will or an heir, beware. If someone finds a last will and testament at some point, you could have a problem.
  • If the title search reveals liens from a previous owner, the creditor may have a stake in the property that could cause you issues.
  • You may want to verify the boundary lines of your property. Otherwise, you may discover in the future that your neighbor can stake a valid claim to a portion of it.
  • If a prior deed was not legally executed, it could affect the lineage of the property's ownership, which in turn, could affect your ownership.
  • A title search may reveal an easement that you knew nothing about when you were negotiating your purchase. Such an easement could prevent you from having full use of the property.
  • Movie and television dramas often use the appearance of a missing heir as a climax to the story. This may make for good entertainment but could cause serious issues to the ownership of your property in real life.

Any of these issues could show up at your new front door even though you conducted a title search when you purchased the property. This is where your title insurance comes into play.

Making a title insurance claim

More than likely, two things will need to happen if someone comes along and stakes a claim to your property. First, you will need to determine how to fix the problem. Second, you may be able to make a claim against your title insurance since any potentially valid claim should have been found at the time of purchase.

These cases can quickly become complex and convoluted. It may be beneficial to enlist the advice and guidance of a legal advocate who can explain your rights and provide you options in this difficult situation.

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Susan Barilich, P.C. | 535 N. Brand Blvd., Ste. 504 | Glendale, CA 91203 | Phone: 818-500-0377 | Map & Directions