Correcting Title Issues Before a Florida Real Estate Closing
When you sign a contract to purchase property in Florida, the contract should state very clearly that the seller is the owner of the property and has the right to convey title to the property. In most cases, you want a General Warranty Deed because this type of deed offers a buyer the highest protection against title defects. With a General Warranty Deed, the seller warrants the title to the property against any claims by previous owners and certifies that there are no title defects or encumbrances that impair your ability to use the property.
In some cases, a Statutory Warranty Deed, Special Warranty Deed, or Fee Simple Deed may be used to transfer title. Before signing a contract, you should discuss the types of deeds with your real estate attorney to ensure your rights are being protected. In addition, you want to discuss potential title defects with your attorney and how to check for those defects before a real estate closing.
If you have located the property you want to purchase, call our Daytona real estate attorneys to review the proposed real estate contract before you sign. Call (888) 316-2131 to speak with an attorney.
Performing a Title Search in Florida
To identify potential title defects or issues with the title, our real estate lawyer performs a title search. A title search consists of reviewing the public records related to the piece of property you intend to purchase. Each deed in the chain of ownership is examined to ensure the sellers had legal ownership to convey to the buyer and there were no mistakes on the deed that could become a title issue. The real estate records are also searched for potential liens, encumbrances, easements, and other issues that could prevent the owner from conveying clear title.
If our real estate attorney identifies a title defect or title issue, we discuss the matter with our client to explain the issue and the options for correcting the problem. Some title issues are simple to resolve; however, other title issues could take many months and a lawsuit to resolve. For a buyer, a title problem could be devastating because it may mean letting the property go if time is an issue. For a seller, title issues mean a loss of money, which can be equally devastating.
The key is to retain an experienced Daytona real estate attorney who can perform a title search, identify title problems, and work quickly to correct the title problems so closing can proceed.
Common Title Issues That Arise in Florida Real Estate Transactions
Five of the common title issues that our real estate attorneys have encountered include:
• Unsatisfied Encumbrances — Mortgages, judgments, mechanic's liens, and other liens of record should be canceled or satisfied before the seller transfers the title to the purchaser. If the liens or mortgages are against the current owner, the debts can be paid at closing and the liens canceled of record. The problem arises when liens are still on record against previous owners. We must track down the owner of the lien to determine if the lien was paid so that we can obtain a cancellation for the record. If the debt is owed, litigation might be necessary to correct the problem.
• Outstanding Real Estate Taxes — In most cases, outstanding real estate taxes are paid at closing by prorating the current taxes. However, if taxes are owed for prior years, the seller should pay those taxes at closing.
• Missing Heirs or Open Probate — Estates should be examined very carefully in the chain of title to ensure that the estate was closed correctly, and all heirs transferred their interest to the next owner. If there was a problem with the estate or there is a missing heir, it could stop closing for several months as we search for the heir or file a court proceeding to clear title.
• Survey and Boundary Problems — Even though the property may have been surveyed in the past, most owners obtain a new survey to ensure nothing is encroaching on the property. Surveys are examined to ensure the boundaries are correct and match the description on the deed. If an easement or encroachment is found, we must resolve the issue before the closing can proceed.
• Errors on the Deed — Errors on a deed usually require a corrective deed. Tracking down a previous owner could take time. If a previous owner has since died, that owner's heirs may need to sign the corrective deed. If the error is in the property description, the error could have a rippling effect if other property surveys have used that description as the base for other deeds.
The above five issues are just a few of the title issues that can stop a real estate closing in Florida. Working with our Daytona real estate attorney can help ensure that a title defect does not cause you more time and money than necessary to correct the problem.
Call Our Daytona Real Estate Attorney for More Information
If you have questions about title defects or issues with the title to a piece of real estate, please contact our office. Call (888) 316-2131 to speak with our Daytona real estate lawyer about performing a title search on your property.