The Importance of Clear Title



U.S. Title Records is America’s primary resource for property records, lien searches, title searches and property information, serving the 50 states, plus the United States territories of Guam and the U.S Virgin Islands. Its network of title plants, county recorder database subscriptions and certified local abstractors in every county put the company at the top of the resource list for real estate investors, real estate professionals, mortgage lenders, financial brokerages, equity groups and attorneys. Our comprehensive title research services make real estate acquisitions and management an easier task.
It is at times all too common now and in the past to overlook the importance of proper title search and research when conducting real estate acquisitions and management. Particularly during the busiest years of the housing bubble prior to 2008, it was common for properties and particularly mortgages and securities to be traded in enormous chains of transactions without the proper updating and management of title records. This lax approach to researching and certifying ownership of properties on the part of buyers has had terrible financial consequences for some.
Title disputes can result in minor to severe damages and proper research and documentation is essential to avoid or minimize the potential for such damages. Take for example the Ibanez case in Massachusetts: Mortgages were granted to buyers, then packaged into securities and sold. When the Great Recession hit, many of those mortgages went into default and were foreclosed upon. Because the mortgages had been securitized and traded many times, the title records for the properties were appallingly out of date. The consequences were enormous and sales of foreclosed properties that had been made years before were invalidated on the basis that the sellers were unable to demonstrate their ownership. These are only a few of numerous examples why researching title records (Full Chain of Title) going back as far as possible can be crucial.
Another example is what is referred to as “Zombie Titles.” Many families unable to meet mortgage payments, vacate the property upon receiving a notice of foreclosure from a bank. However until the bank finalizes the foreclosure, the property remains the legal responsibility of the owners. This has resulted in families who thought the bank had claimed their old home suddenly realizing they are still responsible for enormous tax, homeowner association assessments and upkeep burdens on a property they thought they no longer had rights to inhabit.
Issues of inheritance, sales and foreclosures can all be legal quagmires for property owners and mortgage lenders. The first step in ensuring a property’s title is in order is to thoroughly research its history and attain all relevant documents.