Title & Survey
Good and Marketable Title
Perhaps your real estate lawyer’s most important role is to conduct various searches to find out the nature and quality of the title to the property that you wish to buy. Traditionally, a lawyer would provide you with a Letter of Opinion stating whether or not you were obtaining a good and marketable title. Good title means that nobody else has a claim to your property that you do not know about. It also means that documents previously registered on title to your property were correct, with the proper legal description and no prior fraud or forgery of previous owners’ signatures. Unfortunately, no lawyer can completely guarantee you that there was no error in the government records or fraud perpetrated by previous owners. Title insurance can and should be used to protect you fully against such possibilities.
A survey gives you an aerial view of the property lines of a home and indicates how close the home and other structures are to the property lines. Ideally, the survey you receive from the seller should be very recent, and it should show all structures, improvements, easements, rights-of-way, set-backs, mutual drives and encroachments on the property as they exist today. Your lawyer uses the survey to determine the scope and quality of your title to the property. Unfortunately, many times an ideal survey is not available. The survey provided by the sellers might be out-date or illegible, and your lending institution may not accept it for their purposes. If this is the case, a new survey can be ordered, but the cost of a new survey far exceeds the cost of a title insurance policy, which will protect you by what might be shown in an up-to-date survey.