When it comes to Title Laws and Statutes, which ones govern your real estate transaction has much to do with State statues, common law and the fact that real estate transactions are governed by wide body of federal statutes. State law requirements differ widely from one state to the next.
Commonly in real estate transactions, it is required that the title of the property to be sold is Marketable—meaning free of historical defect or able to be made so, rendering the property Insurable. The seller must have proof of title to the property he or she is selling and there may be no undisclosed third party
interests involved that can claim ownership to the title.
A title agent, as an employee of a title company engaged by the buyer, investigates whether the title is free of defect by conducting a thorough examination of all public records pertaining to the title (county, municipal and those stored in data warehouses known as “title plants”).
Defects commonly found may include an unpaid tax bill or special assessment, a second mortgage, an unsatisfied judgment or simply an incorrect signature.
Once these defects are corrected, the title is clean, and closing on the property can proceed. Title companies may also, for a one-time fee, offer Owner Title Insurance protecting the buyer against loss if other title defects surface after closing. The mortgage lender may also insist on such a policy, a
Loan or Lender Title Insurance Policy, to protect itself against loss.
To legally pass title, a deed of the property (including a description), must be executed and delivered to all parties. Some states require that the deed be officially recorded into the public record. Ownership in these states isn’t established until the deed is recorded. Notice of the property’s transfer must also be
made known to subsequent purchasers.
For more information on Title Laws and Statutes, consult www.alta.org.