The Importance of Proper Title When Purchasing a Maryland Home

The state of Maryland has a rich history, and because of its rich history Maryland is laden with many old homes. Older homers have changed hands numerous times, and as the years go by the owners of the property can take on certain obligations that can cloud the title of the property for future owners. Home buyers in Maryland therefore should be sure their new home is clear of the burdens imposed by previous owners by working with an attorney to attain good title to the property.

New homeowners should be aware that other parties may have rights like liens, mortgages and easements on their property-to-be. These rights are normally referred to as encumbrances, and some of these rights can obstruct the title of the home for a new owner. In general, title refers to proof of ownership, and good or clear title usually refers to ownership that is not legally questionable.

To ensure that good title to the home exists, the new homeowner's attorney will conduct a title search on the property before the closing of the home occurs. The title search is supposed to turn up current and former obligations on the property, so that the new homeowner knows the state of the title before she or he takes on the responsibility of maintaining good title after purchase.

The deed to the new home does not protect against any unfound encumbrances, and to guard against any surprises to rightful ownership after a title search is conducted, homeowners purchase title insurance. Poor recordkeeping often causes problem with title.

Common types of encumbrances to title include mortgages, creditor's liens, taxes and other restrictions. A home mortgage or other property mortgage must be recorded in the local registry of deeds. If a mortgage is refinanced or settled, that information should also be recorded by the proper parties. If a previous home owner hired a contractor to update the kitchen or perform other construction on the property, a mechanic's lien likely attached to the property. The creditor's lien must be paid before the house is transferred. Also, cities and towns may assess tax liens against the property of homeowners who have not properly paid their taxes. Tax liens must also be settled before transfer. Other issues that can cloud title include but are not limited to divorce, death, foreclosure and un-discharged bankruptcy debts.

If you are in the market to buy property in Maryland, contact an experienced real estate attorney to discuss the steps you should take to move safely forward.