If you are in the process of purchasing real estate property, you should not commit yourself to the transaction before researching the title. Below are some of the title issues that a title search might reveal.
The government levies taxes on the values of real estate properties. The money typically goes to the local government, and most governments use it for local developments. Property taxes are usually paid every year, but some homeowners are not always faithful to their remittances. If you are interested in a property with unpaid taxes, the government will want the back payments cleared before the title changes hands.
Property liens are third party claims on the real estate property. An example is judgment lien, which arises when a court issues a judgment against a property owner and attaches the judgment to the property. For example, if a homeowner misses out on child payments, a family court might attach the child support debt to the home. That way, the property owner cannot sell the home without settling their child support liabilities.
The issue of missing heirs arises if multiple people are claiming ownership or of inheritance of a property. Consider an example in which a property owner dies without a will. If one child decides to sell the property, other people (such as other children or dependents) may suddenly appear claiming ownership to the same property. In such a case, the ownership issues must be cleared up before the property can be sold.
A property title is a matter of public record. Some of the details the title should contain include the size of the property, the legal name of the property owner, and the exact location of the property, among other details. Errors can arise in title descriptions since they are prepared by human beings. For example, a title might misspell the name of the property seller. In such a case, the owner should correct the spelling before selling the property.
Lastly, boundary issues should also be cleared up before a property changes hands. For example, it might be that the current owner and a neighbor have not agreed on the exact boundary between them. You inherit the problem if you buy the house with the dispute unresolved. You might even end up paying for the property you can't own if the dispute is later resolved to the advantage of the neighbor.
You won't have to worry about all these if you are dealing with a real estate agent. The agent will help you follow due process and ensure everything is above board so you can focus on looking for houses for sale.