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How do title searches function in residential property purchases?

As the season for buying and selling homes begins to heat up in the Charleston area, those who are looking to complete a transaction may want to figure out what steps they might need to take. Additionally, many may be asking: What are some potential roadblocks that could stand in the way of a succesful residential real estate transaction?

When a person buys a house, they receive the title to the property. This essentially serves as proof of ownership and gives individuals the right to do what they want with the property (within the context of local housing regulations and codes). However, if there is an unexpected claim on the title, then problems can crop up.

As a property changes hands over time, any number of parties can put a claim on or seek rights to a property title. Between tax liens or heirs looking to claim property, a person may not be able to transfer a title without a hitch. This is why it's important to conduct a title search, which can turn up any outstanding claims on the property.

When dealing with an unexpected title dispute, soon-to-be homeowners may wish to consult the services of an experienced real estate attorney. Finding out that transferring the property title won't go as smoothly as planned can be very disappointing and stressful, so seeking the right help can make sorting through problems much simpler.

Another option available is purchasing title insurance. Although this kind of policy can provide some security against claims, simply having the policy may not guarantee that issues are resolved.

Source: Capital Gazette, "Title Insurance: Your Lifeline to Clear and Marketable Title," Jeff Ross, April 28, 2013

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