how do I find out if the title to a property that I am considering purchasing has a clear title?

Asked by Maurice Carrier, Maine Mon Dec 12, 2011

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Josh Cheney, Agent, Presque Isle, ME
Wed Dec 28, 2011
With most of my transactions, we assume that the title is clear or that it will be cleared by the seller prior to closing. It is very unusual in my area of operations to encounter issues with the title that make the deal impossible to put together.

However, there are occasionally issues that do persist, and come back to haunt you years later, which is why I generally recommend that my buyers purchase an owner's title insurance policy. When that sort of a policy is issued, the insurance company that writes it is saying that they have inspected the title and found it to be clean, but if at any point during the time that you own the property, you find that there are issues with the title, the title insurance company will correct those issues, at their expense.

So, in summary, issues are rare, but when issues do arise, they either do so prior to closing, or if they appear after closing, are covered by an owner's title insurance policy.
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Shawn Ryan R…, Agent, Belleville, NJ
Wed Dec 14, 2011
run a title search. your lawyer can order it for you or you can contact a title agency directly
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Margaret Mit…, Agent, York, ME
Mon Dec 12, 2011
Maurice - To clarify an earlier comment: it's possible for the property to have title issues and the Seller to not know. (1) As suggested previously, ALWAYS have a title search done prior to closing. The cost is nominal. A few hundred dollars. Most title searches are done after you go to contract but before you close. (2) Buy an owner's title insurance policy at closing. This is not cheap but well worth it. The title insurance policy will not only protect you while you own the home but also after you sell it. Property is frequently conveyed by warranty deed in Maine. And that means when you sell it, you are warrantying the title. Buy title insurance.
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Marge Bennett, Agent, Fort Myers, FL
Mon Dec 12, 2011
A title search is generally done prior to closing by the title company. You could pay for it before making an offer, but if the seller can't produce a clear title, they really can't sell it without disclosing that fact. There were likely be few, if any buyers for a property with a cloud on the title.
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Carole L. Ma…, Agent, WELLS, ME
Mon Dec 12, 2011
Hi Maurice! There is a clause built in to the Maine purchase and sale agreement that states that seller has 30 days to fix any title issues prior to closing -- or buyer can declare it null and void and get their earnest money back if not cleared within that time period. You should definitely have the title examined by either an attorney or title company before purchasing. Have a great day!
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Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Mon Dec 12, 2011
Your agent should be guiding you along, consider a consultation; a title search is always the best way; however you can also check with local public records, but keep in mind that not all liens may have been recorded.
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If not all liens have been recorded, what do you do to protect yourself? Is title insurance going to cover that?
Flag Sun Aug 26, 2012
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