What is “Clear Title?”

If you ever deal with any real estate deal, you might hear people talk about “clear title.” Establishing clear title is a crucial part of any real estate transaction, and failing to establish it can cause a lot of legal and financial problems down the line. But what does that mean, exactly, and why should you care?

In short, a piece of property is considered to have “clear title” when there are no other claims to the property and there is nothing else that burdens the property owner’s right to freely and fully enjoy that property. Possible issues that might arise include: any unpaid mortgages or liens on the property, any undeclared easements or covenants on the land, or any other claimants to the property (such as someone who may have inherited it). This is important because real estate is generally not supposed to be sold unless clear title has been established.

If real estate has been sold under the assumption that it has clear title, and it turns out there is some problem (for example, the previous owner didn’t pay off their mortgage on the house), it can cause major legal issues. This is because most real estate sales are done through so-called “warranty deeds,” which guarantee (among other things) that there will be clear title when it is sold, and that the seller will be held legally liable if it turns out there was some problem with the property’s title. If you don’t make sure that a house’s title really is clear when you buy or sell it, you can wind up with a potentially expensive and lengthy court case on your hands.

Wingate, Kearney & Cullen, LLP represents buyers and sellers of residential and commercial properties including co-ops, condominiums, single-family homes, and multiple family dwellings. With law offices conveniently located in Brooklyn, New York, and Melville, New York, our lawyers are available to assist residents of the five boroughs of New York City and Nassau and Suffolk County on Long Island with their real estate needs. If you are looking to buy or sell real estate, call (718) 852-5900.

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