Purchasing a new home in Florida should be an exciting time for you. However, if the property contains a hidden problem that you do not know about it until after you make the purchase, you could find yourself in litigation over ownership or debt disputes. It is the job of a real estate attorney to find these problems during a title search. For a number of reasons, an attorney should be as thorough as possible while checking over a property before you buy it.
According to Homelight, a real estate attorney is entrusted with examining public records to discover any matter recorded against the home or property you seek to buy. As a home buyer, you should not be burdened with conducting this search yourself, and you would likely not have the expertise or credentials to do so. Additionally, the seller of the property might not be aware of all outstanding matters either. Sometimes a claim, like a mechanics’ lien, might be overlooked by the seller.
A real estate attorney should be on the lookout for multiple possible claims against a property or any outstanding claims or debts. These include:
- A mortgage and any liens associated with it
- Property taxes and if any are outstanding
- Contractor or creditor liens
- Liens places by a utility or a HOA
A real estate attorney should also be comprehensive in checking all documents that explain the ownership history of a property. This is to clarify the ownership status of the property and make sure no one else retains a claim. In addition to liens and mortgages, a real estate attorney should examine property deeds that show how the property was transferred from one past owner to another.
Title searches may require an attorney to research the property history as far back as the home has existed or at least for as long as the community has maintained records. One should not assume that some ownership claims have been lost to history. This is why some real estate attorneys go to great lengths to clarify real estate issues that go back decades, perhaps more than half a century.
As a home buyer, you depend on the expertise of a real estate attorney to handle all of these issues. A failure to uncover outstanding debts or ownership claims in a title search due to the negligence of the real estate attorney is a form of legal malpractice and can cause significant harm to you legally, financially and emotionally. Keep in mind that this article is not written to give you legal advice and is only provided for educational benefit.