10 Common Title Issues That Can Scuttle a Florida Real Estate Closing

Jul 5, 2017 - Blog by

When you buy a piece of real property along the Emerald Coast, you’re not just buying it from the seller who signed the purchase agreement. Long before that seller took ownership of that property, scores of others may have owned or had an interest in the property, potentially going back centuries.

Over those decades, any number of encumbrances, liens, or claims of ownership may have come and gone. Sometimes, however, those claims, interests, or other problems with the chain of title to the property may remain, often unbeknownst to either the buyer or the seller. Records such as deeds, mortgages, taxes, utility assessments, liens, wills, divorce settlements and other documents affecting a title may be lost to time or incomplete.

Such title issues can scuttle a once-promising transaction and lead to costly conflicts. For sellers, a “cloud” on title can compromise the property’s marketability. Title defects may prevent a potential purchaser from obtaining a loan to purchase the property.

Title problems can take many forms, but 10 of the most common title issues that arise in Florida real estate transactions are:

  • Unreleased or unsatisfied mortgages
  • Outstanding or unknown liens or encumbrances
  • Error in a prior deed
  • An easement or restrictive covenant on the property which negatively restricts its intended use
  • Outstanding real estate taxes
  • Errors in public records
  • Illegal deeds
  • Missing heirs
  • Forgeries
  • Boundary/survey disputes

Fixing Title Problems

Title issues tend to surface when real property is in the process of being sold and can bring the transaction to a screeching halt. Unless any such clouds can be lifted, the parties may never get to closing. Fixing problems with title can be complicated and labor-intensive, but an experienced Northwest Florida title insurance attorney can be the key to resolving outstanding issues and getting a deal to close.

If you have an existing title policy that insures over the title defect, the title company handling your sale may rely on such a policy and issue a new policy to purchasers or their lender. If you don’t have such a policy, you will need to “cure” the title. This may include making a claim to fix the issues or filing a quiet title suit. A quiet title action is an action filed against the parties who may have an interest or claim.

McDonald Fleming Moorhead: Our Destin Title Insurance Attorneys Can Help

At McDonald Fleming Moorhead, our Destin title insurance attorneys have decades of experience successfully handling title claims. We know what steps to take to get your title fixed so you can get to closing. Attorneys Edward P. Fleming and R. Todd Harris have deftly handled complex title litigation, while Board Certified Real Estate Attorneys Stephen R. Moorhead and Stephen L. Walker have been involved in non-adversarial quiet title matters as part of their transactional practice.

If you are a buyer, seller, lender, or otherwise have an interest in real property in Northwest Florida and have questions or concerns regarding a title issue, we invite you to call our Downtown Pensacola office at (850) 477-0660 or tell us about your needs online.