To put it simply, title insurance is a way to protect yourself from financial loss and related legal expenses in the event there is a defect in title to your property that is covered by the policy. Title insurance differs from other types of insurance in that it focuses on risk prevention, rather than risk assumption. With title insurance, title examiners review the history of your property and seek to eliminate title issues before the purchase occurs. Title insurance also differs in that it comes with no monthly payment. It’s just a one-time premium paid at closing.
It's one of the best investments that a new homeowner can make when purchasing their property. Protecting yourself from unforseen events that can affect your ownership is a no-brainer.
To err is human, but when it affects your home ownership rights, those mistakes can be devastating. Clerical or filing errors could affect the deed or survey of your property and cause undo financial strain in order to resolve them.
Prior owners of your property may not have been meticulous bookkeepers – or bill payers. And even though the former debt is not your own, banks or other financing companies can place liens on your property for unpaid debts even after you have closed on the sale. This is an especially worrisome issue with distressed properties.
While the chain of title on your property may appear perfectly sound, it’s possible that a prior deed was made by an undocumented immigrant, a minor, a person of unsound mind, or one who is reported single but in actuality married. These instances may affect the enforceability of prior deeds, affecting prior (and possibly present) ownership.
When a person dies, the ownership of their home may fall to their heirs, or those named within their will. However, those heirs are sometimes missing or unknown at the time of death. Other times, family members may contest the will for their own property rights. These scenarios – which can happen long after you have purchased the property – may affect your rights to the property.
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a completely honest world. Sometimes forged or fabricated documents that affect property ownership are filed within public records, obscuring the rightful ownership of the property. Once these forgeries come to light, your rights to your home may be in jeopardy.
When it comes to owning a home, three can be a crowd. At the time of purchase, you may not know that a third party holds a claim to all or part of your property – due to a former mortgage or lien, or non-financial claims, like restrictions or covenants limiting the use of your property.
You may own your new home and its surrounding land, but an unknown easement may prohibit you from using it as you’d like, or could allow government agencies, businesses, or other parties to access all or portions of your property. While usually non-financial issues, easements can still affect your right to enjoy your property.
You may have seen several surveys of your property prior to purchasing, however, other surveys may exist that show differing boundaries. Therefore, a neighbor or other party may be able to claim ownership to a portion of your property.
When a property owner dies with no apparent will or heir, the state may sell his or her assets, including the home. When you purchase such a home, you assume your rights as owner. However, even years later, the deceased owner’s will may come to light and your rights to the property may be seriously jeopardized.
Common and similar names can make it possible to falsely “impersonate” a property owner. If you purchase a home that was once sold by a false owner, you can risk losing your legal claim to the property.