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Is a Title Review Important in a Real Estate Transaction?

Curiale Hostnik PLLC March 31, 2023

In real estate transactions, time is a crucial factor. Delays can quickly add days—if not weeks—to closing time, causing deals to fall through. Conducting a title review before entering a real estate transaction can save time, money, and effort for both buyers and sellers. 

At Curiale Hostnik, PLLC, our real estate attorneys focus on conducting title reviews in the Tacoma, Washington, real estate market. We put our thorough knowledge of the local housing market at the service of our clients throughout Pierce County in cities such as Puyallup, Gig Harbor, University Place, and Lakewood. Our goal is to help our clients avoid costly delays due to unforeseen issues during a property transaction. When you’re ready to get started, set up a one-on-one consultation. 

What Is a Title Review? 

A title review examines the history of ownership for a particular property to determine if there are any legal issues or disputes that could affect the transfer of ownership. The title review typically involves a thorough search of public records, such as deeds, mortgages, and liens, to ensure that the seller has the legal right to sell the property and that the buyer can obtain a clear title. The title review may also involve an examination of any easements or encumbrances that may affect the property, as well as any zoning or land use restrictions that may apply. 

A title review aims to identify and resolve any issues that could affect the transfer of ownership so that the transaction can proceed smoothly and with legal clarity. A professional real estate attorney can work with buyers and sellers to avoid costly delays. 

The Importance of a Title Review 

Our clients often ask, “Is a title review important in a real estate transaction?” A real estate title review is a key step in any transaction because it helps ensure the buyer obtains a clear and marketable title to the property. Clear title means no liens, encumbrances, or other legal issues that could prevent the buyer from taking possession of or selling the property in the future. A marketable title means it is free from defects that would make it unattractive to potential buyers. 

A title review can uncover potential issues that may not be immediately apparent, such as unpaid taxes, unreleased liens, or easements that may affect the use of the property. By identifying these issues early on, a title review can help both parties address concerns before the sale is finalized, potentially avoiding costly disputes and delays. 

The Process of a Title Review 

The process of a real estate title review typically involves several steps: 

Title Search 

A title search is conducted by a title company or an attorney to review public records for the property. This search will typically include deeds, mortgages, liens, judgments, and other public records that affect the property. 

Examination of Public Records 

After completing the title search, the title company or attorney will review the public records and examine any issues affecting the property’s ownership. 

Examination of Chain of Title 

The title company or attorney will also examine the chain of title to ensure that the property’s ownership has been properly transferred from one owner to another and that there are no gaps in the chain of title. 

Clearing Any Title Issues 

If any issues are identified during the title review process, such as unpaid taxes, unreleased liens, or legal disputes, the title company or attorney will work with the involved parties to resolve these issues before closing. 

Title Insurance 

Once the title review process is complete, the buyer typically purchases title insurance to protect against any unforeseen title defects that may arise after the sale. 

An experienced and knowledgeable real estate title attorney can be a great asset in ensuring no unforeseen situations come up during a transaction. 

Risks If There Is No Title Review 

Failing to conduct a title review before finalizing a real estate transaction can lead to significant risks and legal problems for the buyer. 

Transaction Delays 

Transaction delays may occur due to various situations, such as: 

  • Unresolved liens 

  • Undiscovered ownership issues 

  • Zoning and land use issues 

  • Unknown easements 

  • Unknown or undiscovered legal disputes  

Deal Cancelation 

Significant transaction delays may lead to the cancelation of a real estate transaction. Conducting a title review helps resolve issues promptly and efficiently. Unresolved issues and delays can be major headaches for everyone involved. 

Protect Your Future With an Attorney’s Support 

At Curiale Hostnik, PLLC, we aim to help our clients carry out smooth real estate transactions. We work with buyers and sellers in Washington during the all-important title review phase. 

When you’re ready to reduce your risk of unforeseen delays and deal cancelations, reach out to us to set up an appointment.