Nothing serves as an obstacle to a property closing quite like a hitch in the title process.
If a title search shows that there are some encumbrances, one option is a quiet title action. A quiet title action is a legal proceeding that is used to help establish ownership of a piece of property. It basically does what the name implies: quiets any attempt at ownership of the property by determining the rightful owner.
It is essentially a lawsuit against anyone that may attempt to have ownership interest in that specific piece of land. Any real estate agent that finds themselves up against a title issue likely have several questions about this process. Three of the more common are discussed below.
#1: When is a quiet title action beneficial?
These actions are generally beneficial in the following situations:
- Dispute. A quiet title action can help resolve a dispute with a mortgage lender. This is particularly beneficial when there is a claim that the loan was not fully paid by the previous owner.
- Death. This is also a viable option if the previous owner has died. It can help to better ensure no future heirs attempt to establish a claim on the property.
- Adverse possession. This occurs when one party is illegally occupying the property. These can range from innocent confusion over the property line to a more serious attempt to move into a property and claim it as one’s own.
- Unoccupied property. In some cases, a property appears to be abandoned. This process can better ensure the property title is clear and encourage prospective buyers to consider putting in an offer.
This list is not all encompassing. There are other situations where a quiet title action may make sense.
#2: How does a quiet title action work?
It is a legal process that generally involves research, drafting a complaint for an action to quiet the title, filing the suit and serving it to any parties to the action and obtaining a court order.
#3: How long does this process generally take?
The exact answer will vary depending on the details of the situation, but in general these processes take a couple of months. If the process is successful, the winning party may be free from further title challenges involving this issue in the future. It is important to note that in some jurisdictions the action only applies to specific issues and not the title as a whole. It is wise to review your issue with an experienced attorney to help better ensure you understand the nuances of the issue and how it will impact your client.