When you purchase real property, it is sometimes hard to know what you are actually purchasing. Perhaps you are assuming that the boundaries of the property line up with fences, rockeries, and driveways. But if you don’t have a survey, you cannot really know this for sure. Similarly, because the property has existed since before time began, it is possible that some person or entity has interest in the property that you are not aware of. Interests in the property may have been documented or transferred improperly at some time in the past. Mistakes and oversights in prior transactions can result in those interests remaining in property you own or are purchasing.
Washington Title Lawyer
Joyce Schwensen is an experienced Seattle-based real estate attorney who can take on tangled title issues for her clients, and can help you with any difficult and complicated real estate issues you may have. Issues pertaining to past owners, tenants and others with an interest in your property can leave you with unmarketable title.
A skilled Washington title lawyer, like Joyce Schwensen, can represent you in all matters pertaining to any dispute over title issues. Call today at (206) 367-1065 to schedule a consultation to discuss your real estate title matter.
Joyce Schwensen is based in Seattle, and serves clients throughout the King County area, including in Bellevue and Renton. She can also assist people with complicated title issues throughout Washington State.
Washington State Title Issues Information Center
- Defining Title for Washington Real Estate
- Title Defects in King County Real Estate
- Bringing Suit to Quiet Title in Seattle
Title, for real estate purposes, refers to a collection of rights in real property, including the right to possession and use. To have title to land means to have legal ownership. A person can possess land, or occupy it, and not have title.
While occupying land but not owning it may bring to mind "squatters," or people who live on property without permission, a more common example would be people who mistakenly believe they own an area of land. For example, a person builds a fence around his or her land, and mistakenly puts it a foot too far east. That person may occupy the land — growing hedges, placing a barbeque pit or even build a structure on that foot — but not have legal title.
It is possible for a person to gain title of land he or she has occupied it for ten years under certain conditions. This is called "adverse possession."
People may think of a "title" as a document, but it's actually a legal concept — a set of rights to property. When title passed from one person to another, the documentation used is call a "deed." Deeds should be recorded with the proper local agency. In King County, the proper agency for most properties is the King County Recorder's Office. However, there are a small number of properties in Washington State that are “registered land.” Deeds to these properties must be registered with the County Registrar rather than recorded.
Every time real property changes ownership, the transaction should be consummated by delivering and recordating a deed (unless the property is registered land). If a warranty deed is used, it should have exceptions from the warranties for all encumbrances, such as liens, mortgages, deed restrictions, other restrictions, and easements.
An easement is the right of someone who doesn’t own real estate to use the real estate for a particular purpose, such as for a road or utility line. Where use of the easement property is shared between two or more owners, the easement may include provisions for payment of maintenance costs or other expenses. There are numerous types of easements that can apply to many situations.
Sometimes, there are mistakes in the deed. These can sometimes deeply affect the value of the property and whether you would be able to sell it. Having property you are able to sell is called having "marketable title." Examples of errors that can make title to real property unmarketable are deeds or other transfers that are not recorded, or that are recorded when the property involved is registered land and the document should be registered instead of recorded.
Other times, there may be missing documents or a period of time where there is no documentation of the land's ownership. A break in the chain of title can occur if, for example, a former owner's estate was not properly probated. This can lead to unmarketable title.
When property is purchased a preliminary title commitment shows the condition of title prior to the buyer closing the purchase. It is extremely important to make sure the title issues are resolved before closing. In some cases, though, you may own a piece of real estate for a long time and know nothing about a title defect until someone tries to make a claim on the property, or until you try to sell the property or borrow against it.
When there are issues with title or a dispute over title, a person seeking to resolve the issues may bring a suit to quiet title. The lawsuit, which can be brought by your Seattle real estate attorney, will seek action to permanently resolve any outstanding title issues.
A suit to quiet title is one of many possible solutions to a title defect. Joyce Schwensen has experience in resolving complex title issues, and can advise you on the best way forward.
Law Office of Joyce S. Schwensen | Seattle Title Defect Attorney
If there are issues pertaining to ownership or rights over your property or a property you are seeking to purchase, a Washington title issues lawyer can help resolve these complicated matters. Joyce Schwensen is an experienced real estate attorney who takes on the toughest title issues. Call the Law Office of Joyce S. Schwensen today to schedule a consultation to discuss your title issues.