Do I Need a Title Search in a Residential Real Estate Transaction?

Buying or selling a home is a complex financial transaction. There are many issues that will need to be addressed before closing on a residential real estate transaction, including negotiating a purchase contract, securing financing, and addressing any issues uncovered in a home inspection. One of the most important issues involves making sure the title of the home can be transferred from the seller to the buyer. By working with an attorney to perform a title search, sellers can identify any issues that may hold up a transaction, and they can resolve these matters and ensure that the home closing will proceed smoothly.

Common Title Issues

Before a home’s title can be transferred, it must be clear of any “encumbrances,” which include any legal or financial issues that may prevent the transfer. By looking at public records that detail ownership of the home and any claims against the property, an attorney can make sure sellers fully understand the steps that will need to be taken before the closing can proceed. Some issues that may be uncovered during a title search include:

  • Liens – The biggest factor that can hold up a residential real estate transaction often involves claims against the property by a party looking to collect a debt. These may include mechanic’s liens by contractors, subcontractors, or suppliers who were not fully paid for work they had performed, judgment liens by a creditor such as a credit card company, or domestic support liens related to unpaid child support or alimony. These debts will usually need to be fully paid before a lien can be released. In some cases, liens may still exist even after a debt has been paid, and a lienholder will need to agree to release the lien before ownership of the property can be transferred at closing.

  • Unpaid property taxes – If there are outstanding taxes owed by a homeowner or property owner, these will need to be fully paid before the closing can proceed.

  • Ownership claims – In some cases, a person or party other than the seller may claim that they have the right to ownership of the property. This may be an issue in situations where a property was passed to a new owner as an inheritance following the death of the original owner. If another heir believes that they should have inherited some or all of the property, these claims will need to be resolved before the title can be transferred to a new owner.

  • Boundary disputes – If there is any question about the location of the property’s boundaries, a new survey may need to be performed to ensure the buyer understands the extent of the property they are purchasing.

  • Easements – A title search can determine whether any restrictions will apply to the buyer’s ability to use the property. These may include utility easements that allow for the placement of power or gas lines on the property, restrictive easements that limit the types of construction or improvements that can be performed, or private easements that allow a neighbor to use the property in certain ways. 

Contact Our Beverly Residential Real Estate Lawyer

During your real estate transaction, The Marques Eason Law Group can perform a title search and make sure you are fully prepared to address any issues that may affect the ability to transfer ownership of the property. To learn how we can help you throughout the entire closing process, contact our Cook County real estate attorney today by calling 773-973-3755.


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