No one saw it coming. The home was beautiful and perfect for your family. The price was reasonable, and your offer was accepted. In the days between signing the contract and meeting at the closing table, however, you were thrown a curveball; the house you were already starting to think of as home was snatched away from you…all because of title issues.

How does this happen and why? It would be easy to point fingers, saying the real estate agent didn’t do her due diligence or the homeowner withheld information. Sometimes, however, no one is to blame; it’s just a matter of unresolved property ownership issues or debts.

The experienced experts at Trustworthy Title have seen it all in our many years of business, so we know the right questions to ask, the correct documents to collect, and can spot red flags before you’ve gotten emotionally invested in a property you hope to purchase. 

These are some of the most common title issues we are diligently on the lookout for. 

Unsettled Estates

When a homeowner is deceased, potential heirs may be difficult to locate or family members may get tangled up in litigation over contested wills. If an overzealous heir has taken the liberty of selling the property before the estate is settled, he is acting out of turn and the sale cannot go through. If it did, can you imagine the distress and headache if a mysterious long-lost relative of the deceased knocked on your door one day to claim your home as his own?


Simply put, a lien against a property is a legally-recognized claim an entity can make against the value of a property. Liens can be filed by homeowners’ associations, home maintenance contractors, and a host of related service providers. The debt claimed in the lien must be satisfactorily paid before the home is allowed to be sold. Depending on the willingness of the seller to cooperate and settle his debts (or challenge them) this can hold up closing considerably.


Sure, easements should be mentioned in a seller’s disclosure agreement, but sometimes they are based on neighborly arrangements established years ago or a city’s maintenance agreements with the original builder. Easements are not typically a problem once the buyer knows about them and understands the expectation. It’s the element of surprise that can lead to frustration. Typically, easements frame the edge of properties, but can also include access roads or shared driveways. In the case of easements, you won’t be able to utilize those parts of your property in any-old-way you please, but must gain consensus of all involved parties. In some cases, such as powerline access or public roads, you may be denied usage completely. 

Title Issues

Property History

The land on which your dream home now stands wasn’t always part of a residential development. What was its history? Do you really know? If the property was once used for industrial purposes or waste disposal, is it really a safe place for your family to live? For your children to play? For you to plant a garden? Avoid this frightening title issue by learning the full history of this property’s usage so you don’t get any dangerous surprises. 

Improper Documentation

If a prior sale of the home was done between friends and kin, or if the transaction was incorrectly documented, witnessed, and signed, it isn’t legally binding. Interested parties can protest the deed and tangle you up in legal proceedings for perpetuity.

Unpaid Taxes

Uncle Sam will not be denied his due forever. If property taxes are in arrears, the owner must settle this debt before he is able to sell the home. If you agree to close without their resolution, the debt can be transferred to you as the new owner.

Avoid the Nightmare

We don’t wish to be alarmist, but want to make sure that you are well-informed of the risks that can come with purchasing a new home. Working with an experienced title company, such as Trustworthy Title, is essential to making sure you don’t fall victim to one of these title issue nightmares. 

If your home purchase is stalled by a title issue, you are not without options. You can ask the seller to take care of the issue before closing or ask the seller to provide the necessary funding to address the problem. If the delay is too great or the problem insurmountable, you have the choice to walk away and seek a home you can purchase without the headaches. 

Remember that once you sign those papers and the home is yours, all facets of the home are yours to contend with, including the fallout from the title issues, so don’t close until you know that property can be yours free and clear.

Additional peace of mind is available through title insurance, a guarantee that you’ve got resources in the rare instance that even the most diligent title search didn’t reveal a property complication. 

If you’ve got questions or want more information about a property you are considering, we’d love to support you on your journey to home ownership. Give us a call today!