4 Issues that May Turn Up During a Title Search

Title issues are more common than most people presume, which is why you should perform a title search before buying real estate in Illinois. Some problems will restrict your ability to use the property as you wish while others thwart your ability to take ownership in the first place. All of them present difficulties that can affect the value of your purchase.

Below is a list of the most common title issues that may turn up during a search and what you can do about them.

  1. Liens on the Property

A lien is a claim that a creditor places on a property until the owner satisfies a debt. The most common type is a mortgage lien, but others include:

  • Mechanic’s liens, which are placed against the property by construction professionals and suppliers when its owner does not pay for work or materials used to improve its value.
  • Judgment liens, which arise when the property owner is a defendant in a lawsuit and loses their case.
  • Tax liens for unpaid local, state, or federal taxes.
  • Marital liens created by a divorce decree to affect a conveyance between the former spouses.

Resolution will vary depending on the type of claim. For example, if you are dealing with a judgment lien, the Illinois Homestead Exemption prevents the property from being sold to satisfy the claim if the owner’s equity interest in the home was less than the exemption amount, which is $15,000 for a single person. In the case of a mechanic’s lien, the claimant may not have filed a foreclosure action within the requisite time period. An Illinois real estate attorney can advise you on the best way to handle other liens.

  1. Encroachments

Encroachments occur when a property crosses boundary lines onto an adjacent property. Common examples are tree branches that extend into a neighbor’s yard or an improperly placed fence or outbuilding.

If your title search reveals such an encroachment, the simplest resolution is to have the fence or shed moved or trees trimmed. You could also draft an easement agreement with your new neighbor to allow the encroachment to remain. As a last resort, you could file a quiet title action to gain possession of the affected property if the encroachment has been in place for years.

  1. Restrictive Covenants

Restrictive covenants can limit your use of a property or what structures may be placed on it. They are especially common in condominium developments and residential subdivisions, where developers or the community want to ensure uniformity of appearance or limit development growth. Examples include restrictions on property color schemes or architectural styles and prohibition of satellite dishes or swimming pools. If these covenants are burdensome for you, consult a real estate attorney to review your options.

  1. Non-Joinder of Spouse

If you are buying a property that was previously the homestead of a married seller, under 735 ILCS 5/12-904, both spouses must acknowledge and execute the conveyance in order for there to be an effective waiver of the homestead interest. If only one spouse signed, the conveyance is legally void. This is a complication that is best handled with assistance from an experienced real estate attorney.

Real estate is a significant investment, so you need to know what encumbrances may exist, especially ones that pass on to new buyers. At the Auricchio Law Offices, we will advise you on the best way to resolve these issues before you own the property. Our thorough understanding of the complicated regulations and laws affecting real estate has given us the ability to achieve successful outcomes. To connect with our team, call 312-263-0010 or contact us.

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Auricchio Law Offices

Auricchio Law Offices in Chicago provides a complete range of real estate services. We facilitate residential and commercial real estate transactions, advise and represent condominium associations, and represent property owners in real estate litigation. Whatever your real estate issue, we will work diligently to achieve your goals in a timely and efficient manner.

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