Friday, July 6, 2012

Quiet Title: What You Need to Know

The real estate market has yet to recover and return to the booming days of the 90s, and the mess of countless foreclosures has left many homeowners and land buyers with a sticky situation on their hands. Specifically, fraud and questionable practices have made tracing a perfect ownership lineage difficult in many cases. When liens and claims are commonplace, it can make determining who has the right to a piece of property a challenge for even the wisest judge. If there is a cloud surrounding your ownership, you may want to file a quiet title action to eliminate the confusion. Here are some things you need to know to proceed.
Taking Ownership
There are several ways in which you can become the owner of a piece of real estate. You can go through sole ownership, wherein you own a house outright and your name is the only one on the deed. You can take ownership through a partnership, whether that be with roommates, a spouse, or with a business partner. A piece of property may also belong to a trust, waiting to be handed out to the beneficiary at a particular time. Because of these varied means of ownership, confusion can sometimes erupt as to the true owner.
Clearing Confusion
A quiet title action is often the best method of clearing up any cloudiness surrounding the question of true ownership. If you want to sell a house, build on a piece of land, or even rent to others, you may need to file a lawsuit to ward off any other individuals or companies that believe they have a legitimate claim to the property. An alternative method would be to purchase an insurance policy on the title, but this will only protect you financially against rights claimants. It will not clean up the legal issue in any way.
A quiet title action isn't a legal proceeding that is going to be over and done with in a week. It takes time, and it will take more time depending on how many defendants there are. A defendant would be anyone who claims to have a right to the property, other than yourself and your partners. If they have a case they can defend in court, the judge will have to weigh their merits against yours. The result in most cases is that the plaintiff is granted the quiet title and can move on with the confidence that legal ownership brings. However, if there are legitimate liens against the property-such as from a mortgage company or the IRS-it may not be so easy.

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