It is essential when buying a home or property that the title is clear, which means that the seller owns it free and clear of any liens or other claims.
If a title has any issues, it can create problems for you. The Washington Post explains that the seller must fix any title issues prior to the sale of the property and that you should never buy a property with lingering title problems. The most common issue is liens of which there are a few types.
One issue with a title of which the seller may not even be aware is a lien for past due child or spousal support. Often, the support is something the owner paid long ago or he or she did not realize there was a lien on the property. It may even be a case of a misunderstanding or paperwork error somewhere in the course of paying the support that led to the lien. It may even be inherited property where an heir is unaware of outstanding support issues.
In any case, the owner must get to the bottom of things. This may require the person owed the support to sign a release to forgive it or getting records to show proof of paid support.
Bankruptcies may result in a lien on the property. It may not even be the owner’s bankruptcy, but if the court puts a lien, then the owner will have to work with the court to release it.
A mechanic’s lien may be in place due to a contractor doing work for the owner and never receiving payment. Generally, to clear this type of lien all it takes is paying the debt. However, in some situations, the lien may be left over from a past issue that the owner cleared up and the contractor simply forgot to clear the lien.