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Passage of Title in Pennsylvania

By Tabitha Naylor

The passage of title is the most important legal step in purchasing a home. It is often the step that also causes the greatest problem. It is important you know the key facts about passage of title for your own property.

Passage of Title-What Is it All About

Passage of title is the transfer of the legal rights of ownership over real property from one person to another. When buying or selling a home, passage of title can be accomplished with the help of a title company, or a real estate lawyer. The passage of the Title is the final legal step that determines all the privileges, and responsibilities of ownership.

Why is the Title So Important

Having clear title to a property is important because it makes the sale of your home legal. If you do not possess legal title to your property, legally you are not recognized as the owner of your property.

In order to successfully "pass" the title, the title must be "clear." When a title is clear it means there are no legal errors in the history of the title, no errors in the recording of the title, and no other parties that have an interest in the property like a bank, ex-spouse, an heir by will, tax officials or any other lien holders.

Protecting Your Title and Preventing Title Problems

When you think about how many things can go wrong with a title search and the passing of the title it is a bit scary. The good news is there are ways to help the process along and avoid potential problems:

  1. Buy title insurance. Most mortgage lenders actually require a policy of title insurance so their loan is protected. This is important because title insurance from a Title Insurance agency will cover you against risks like incompetent representation, erroneous description of the property, fraud and other issues. Title insurance can be expensive but well worth it should some problem arise during the title search.
  2. Consider hiring an experienced real estate lawyer. Your lawyer can help you check the history of the property, when and how the house was built, how the title was passed and any previous transactions that might be called into question.
  3. Use a title company. One of the responsibilities of a title company is to research the title to the property through a title abstract. This search provides a history of the property and all of its previous owners. It is Title Company's job to examine the title and clear any liens or claims on the property so that the new buyer receives a clear and marketable title to their new property. The Title company also prepares the title insurance commitment for the lender's title insurance policy and issue both owner's and lender's title insurance coverage. The owner's title insurance policy protects the new owner from any unforeseen claims, hidden risks or fraud against the property. The insurance policy provides protection from any financial loss and the payment of any legal costs required to clear any claims.
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