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How a Title Dispute Can Delay Your Real Estate Transaction

Curiale Hostnik, PLLC Sept. 29, 2020

According to The Washington Post, more than one-third of all real estate transactions require "extraordinary work" to resolve a title issue. A title dispute typically arises when there is a disagreement over the specific owner of a piece of property or the area of land covered by the specified property. Unknown title defects such as deed errors, outstanding liens, and public record errors may delay a real estate sale or invalidate the buyer's right to own the property.

If you are involved in a real estate title dispute, or if a title dispute is delaying a real estate sale, it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable Washington state real estate attorney. Our team at Curiale Hostnik PLLC can provide you with the detailed guidance and advocacy you need. We can assess your unique situation and determine the fastest and easiest way to resolve the issue and proceed with the sale. We proudly serve clients in Tacoma, Washington, and cities throughout Pierce County.

Reasons a Title Ends Up in Dispute

Unfortunately, there are certain circumstances that may affect your legal rights as the holder of a real estate title. Here are some reasons that a title may end up in dispute:

  • Public Record Error: Public record mistakes such as errors in recording property information, unreleased mortgages, improperly filed papers, inaccurate square footage, and names or address misspellings may lead to title disputes.

  • Easement Issue: Easements usually put certain restrictions on how a property may be used. Government agencies or businesses may have permission to access specific parts of the property. If easements are not discovered early, they may cause title disputes.

  • Boundary Dispute: Every piece of property has a particular description of its boundaries in its deed. Boundary disputes may occur when two adjacent property owners argue about the location of a property line.

  • Unknown Liens: If a previous owner is behind on payments, it may turn into a lien on the property. Regardless of who purchased the property, the debt stays with the property itself.

  • Unknown Heirs: Several years after the past property owner dies, a previously unknown owner with a will that grants them the property may appear thus, causing a title dispute.

  • Illegal Deed: A deed signed by a minor or someone who is incapacitated may be considered illegal. This eventually affects the rights of the new owner.

  • Encumbrances: A third party may make a claim on the property as a result of a previous covenant, mortgage, or lien.

Whatever the reason for the dispute, until it’s resolved, the real estate transaction can be delayed.

How Disputes Are Resolved

Many title disputes or issues can be resolved by filing any of these documents:

  • A Quit Claim Deed: Filing a quitclaim deed will remove an heir and clear up title among spouses or co-owners.

  • A Release of Lien/Judgment: Filing a release of lien or judgment will remove a paid mortgage, spousal, or child support lien.

  • A Deed of Reconveyance: Filing a deed of reconveyance will record payment of a mortgage under a deed of trust.

However, if a property seller is not aware that a lien or other encumbrance is attached to the real estate property, resolving the issue may take days or even weeks. For properties with more than one owner, transferring the title will require co-owners' signature. If you're unable to locate the co-owners, the legal steps to remedy the title dispute may take months.

How a Title Dispute Attorney Can Help

Resolving a title dispute can be really complicated and time-consuming. Moreover, it may need signatures from co-owners who can't be found. If you are trying to resolve a title dispute that is delaying a real estate sale, consulting with a knowledgeable Washington real estate attorney is important for proper guidance.

Our experienced attorneys at Curiale Hostnik PLLC have been offering comprehensive legal services and detailed representation in matters of real estate transactions and title disputes. Our team knows the process that is needed to clear a title and can help facilitate the process.

As your legal counsel, we will perform a comprehensive title search and review all documents related to the property. We will evaluate any potential issues related to the property's title and determine the fastest and easiest way to resolve such issues and proceed with the real estate sale.

A one-on-one consultation with an attorney can help prevent headaches and delays in resolving title disputes before closing a property sale. Contact Curiale Hostnik PLLC today to schedule a case assessment with an experienced Washington title dispute attorney. We are proud to serve clients in Tacoma, Washington, and cities throughout Pierce County.