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Why can title issues cause trouble with a closing?

On Behalf of | Nov 15, 2023 | Residential Real Estate |

Buying a home is one of the most exciting adventures most people will ever have – but not all home sales have a happy ending.

Issues with property titles can cause a real estate sale to grind to a screeching halt until the problems are resolved. Some of the most common “clouds” you may see hanging over a title include the following.

Unpaid property taxes

Outstanding property taxes can pose a significant hurdle during a house closing. If the current owner has unpaid property taxes, the local government may place a tax lien on the property, which can prevent the sale from proceeding (unless the buyer is willing to take those on).

Unpaid liens

If the current owner has outstanding debts, creditors may have placed a lien or two on the property as collateral. These liens generally have to be cleared before the sale will go through.

Boundary disputes

Boundary disputes can be a significant hurdle during a house closing. a neighbor might claim that part of the backyard belongs to them or that the property’s garage is two feet over the boundary line between the yards, which can lead to legal complications and delays in the closing process.

Errors in public records

Mistakes in public records can also complicate house closings. These errors can include misspelled names, incorrect property descriptions or other inaccuracies in the official records. The more history a home has, the more likely these kinds of clerical errors will crop up.


Easements are legal rights that allow others to use a portion of a property for specific purposes, such as using a footpath to reach the public lake or access for utility trucks. If there are outstanding easements on the property that were not disclosed during the negotiation process, that could be a major issue.

Unresolved probate issues

Buying a property from an estate can sometimes get buyers a bargain. However, unresolved probate issues, such as disputes among heirs or incomplete probate proceedings, can delay the closing.

What’s the good news? Well, it’s usually possible to straighten out a title issue with a little work. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help you to get started.