Handling a broken chain of title

On Behalf of | Feb 1, 2022 | Real Estate

A hot Florida real estate market motivates both buyers and sellers. However, property that changes hands frequently or is passed from one generation to another within the same family without a will may have legal issues, complicating a sale.

According to Bankrate, the chain of title is the list of successive owners of a home or property. Title companies typically research the chain of title at the time of purchase. They verify ownership, identify any liens and confirm it is free of tax issues and judgments. If there is a gap, a title defect may exist, making the property unmarketable.

Missing documents

There may be a gap or break in the chain of title if one or more documents are missing. A claim based on a title document allegedly lost or destroyed must have clear, convincing evidence backing it up, and courts require this elevated level of proof to avoid fraud. The title is not marketable if it depends on an unrecorded, lost deed. Clearing up situations in which the required document is not lost but indexed incorrectly at the County Clerk’s office may take time.

Name variances

If there is a misspelling on any required documents, it could result in a title defect. It may also happen if the first name, middle initial and last name appear on some documents, but only the first and last name appears on others, or the word “junior” appears only in some documents. These errors are often cured by affidavit.

In situations where a person dies without a written will and the family distributes property based on oral instructions, it might cause a title defect when the new owner tries to sell the parcel. A quiet title action may clear the cloud on title. This type of lawsuit confirms ownership, settles ownership disputes, and fix title defects. If there is a property with a title defect you wish to buy or sell, understanding your options is essential for making the property marketable.