How do I protect myself against real estate title issues?

by | Jan 4, 2017 | Real Estate

The process of buying commercial real estate can be both exciting and overwhelming because of the many steps involved. One of the biggest concerns that purchasers of real estate in Texas have is whether there are any title issues associated with the properties they wish to buy. Overlooked real estate title issues can have long-term negative impacts for the buyer.

What is title?

The term title refers to who legally owns a property and, therefore, maintains the right to use it. This term can apply to multiple things, but it is most frequently used to refer to automobiles and real estate because these are major purchases that may have complex ownership arrangements.

What real estate title issues may surface?

Just because you have purchased a commercial property does not automatically mean you possess clear title to it. One common problem with a real estate title is a past ownership claim. For instance, a certain area of land might have been in a family for multiple generations, and the original property owner may have long been forgotten. In addition, maybe somebody took the property via adverse possession but no clear land grant existed at the start. In these cases, somebody from the past may show up and claim that he or she has an ownership interest in the land.

Another common title problem is a lien, or a mini-mortgage that has been placed on the property in an effort to get the owner of the property to pay his or her debt. All liens on a property have to be paid prior to the property being sold.

Yet another potential title issue is a covenant of record, where the original owner of the land made a promise to somebody else. For instance, the promise may have been that a neighbor could drive across the owner’s property at any time. Such a promise was written into the deed each time the property was sold.

What can a real estate attorney do for me?

Ensuring that a property’s title is clean is an essential aspect of a Texas commercial real estate transaction. A knowledgeable attorney can determine for you if another entity in the past placed a lien against the title of your desired property. In addition to investigating the title, the attorney can also clear the real estate title so that you can move forward with your property purchase with confidence.