The term “title” in real estate generally refers to the ownership rights tied to the property.

What problems can be present with a title? Various issues with title can hinder your ownership rights. Issues can be present due to past ownership or liens. A business could place a lien on the property for unpaid bills for work on the home or other debt brought on by a previous owner.

Can I protect my interest in the property in case of a title dispute? Those who are looking to purchase a home can take steps to reduce the risk of a title issue.

Examples include:

  • Include a provision within the home purchase agreement. Buyers can include a clause within the purchase agreement stating the current owner must provide proof of clear title. If the owner cannot do so, the buyer can cancel the agreement. This clause is best added to an agreement drafted for your specific transaction—as opposed to a fill-in-the-blank form.
  • Purchase tile insurance. Title insurance can provide protection when a there are hinderances on the title. This policy can provide financial protection in the event of a lawsuit attempting to challenge your title to the property.
  • Run a comprehensive title search. Arguably the easiest way to avoid issues, this step involves running a thorough title search before closing on the property. A real estate attorney with experience in this niche area of the law, ideally from the same market you wish to purchase the property, can help to better ensure the title is free of encumbrances before you finalize the purchase.