There are many different steps when it comes to buying a home or other piece of real estate, and at each step it is possible that something may go wrong. Problems with the title can be particularly upsetting. For example, title defects can make it difficult to establish legal ownership of a property.
The person who legally owns a property holds its title. When purchasing a piece of real estate in Illinois, ownership transfers to the buyer who then holds the title. Unfortunately, a claim to past ownership can present a problem with the title. A past ownership claim usually comes up when a piece of land was owned by a single family for multiple generations. In such cases, the original owner may have been forgotten or someone else could have attempted to take the land by way of adverse possession.
Liens are also problematic. If a lien is placed against a home or property in Illinois, it is an effort to make the owner pay off a debt. Properties with liens cannot be sold unless the lien is paid off. This means that even if another person purchases a property and begins making mortgage payments, he or she might not actually own the title.
Purchasing a piece of real estate is a significant and time consuming process. Learning of possible title defects can be upsetting, so it is a good idea to be as prepared as possible. Some prospective buyers choose to have an experienced attorney perform a title search to look for possible title defects. It can also be helpful to include a contingency in the purchase agreement, giving the buyer the ability to back out if the seller is unable to demonstrate that he or she clearly has the title.