TITLE TALK: WE’RE ON A BREAK!
Typically, when a property is sold, its title is transferred. The repeated transfer of title forms a chain of records; through this chain, one would be able to trace the property’s ownership as far back as that county’s records hold. However, it is not uncommon that properties are transferred incorrectly or fraudulently. If there is an incorrect or fraudulent transfer, it could create, what we call in the real estate world, a break in the chain of title.
So, what’s a break in the chain of title? Basically, if there is a break in the chain of title, it means that somewhere along the line, that property was not transferred or recorded correctly. There is a gap in ownership such that one may not be able to properly trace the property’s history to the original owner.
This concept is best illustrated through an example. Imagine Alice deeded her property, Blackacre, to Bobby. Bobby doesn’t record his deed with the county clerk. Bobby then deeds Blackacre over to Calvin. Calvin records his deed. Now, if one searches the county clerk’s record’s for Blackacre’s ownership history, there will appear to be a break in the chain of title; in other words, one will be unable to trace title from Calvin to Alice, which creates uncertainty as to how Calvin became the owner of the property.
In order to avoid breaks in the chain of title, make sure that there are no misspellings of names of the grantor (seller) or grantee (buyer), that the property’s legal description is correct, that all required signatures are present, and that the deed is recorded in the proper county.
TITLE TIP: When there is a break in the chain of title, consider: going to the county court in the county in which the property sits and seek a suit to quiet title; making an adverse possession claim; obtaining any heirships; probating a Will or Estate; or obtaining Divorce Decrees, or curative deeds from parties that are predecessors in title. Most of the remedies involve the service of an attorney or title company. Give yourself a break and email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or difficult files.