When you find a property that you like and can afford, purchasing it may still not be straightforward. Some houses have legal issues that could make going ahead a risky decision.
Fortunately, there is often a simple way to resolve things. It’s called a quiet title action.
How does it work? It involved asking the court to clarify the matter. You could ask the seller to file one, or you can do it yourself as an interested party.
Why might you need one of these?
- Because there is a lien that appears to be outstanding on the property: It might be placed by a lender or someone who did work on the house and was not paid. Occasionally these liens are resolved, but they still show as the records were not updated.
- Because various people claim ownership: Inheritance disputes are a common cause of this. They can often drag on for a long time, and a quiet title action can help you determine if they have been legally resolved or are still ongoing.
- Because someone claims to have an easement: Sometimes property owners strike a deal with another person to allow them access across the property. There can sometimes be confusion about whether you need to honor this if you purchase the property.
- Because the neighbors dispute the boundary: Fence lines are not always a guarantee of where the property boundaries lie. Often fences have moved inch by inch over the years as people erected them where they thought (rather than knew) the line was.
Real estate is expensive, so be sure to get legal help to make sure you know what you are buying before parting with your hard-earned cash.