Is your property title clear? Here's what buyers should know

by Jodie Franklin 03/24/2024

To sell a home and transfer ownership to a new owner, the property must have a clear title. Clear titles are documents proving legal ownership rights for the property in question. Without a clean title, the sale cannot move forward, and both buyer and seller might face hefty fees.

Here are some of the most common questions about titles and title insurance:

What is a clear title?

A clear title is any title with no lien from creditors or anyone who poses questions regarding legal ownership. A clear title-holder is the true owner of the property, and no one else can assert a judicial claim against them.

How does a clear title work?

Having a clear title can show the home has outstanding financial obligations, as it proves an owner can sell the property. Sale of property may become disputable without a clearly titled document or the proper ownership of the property itself. The existence of a lien can also possibly invalidate ownership.

Conducting a title search

Property title professionals can help find the details about ownership of a given property. The first stage in title clearing is title research, or title examination. During the process, the title company pulls the records pertaining to the title of the property from the local records office.

Depending on the age of the home and the municipality, title companies may conduct searches either through digital

Uncovering title issues

If there are issues discovered during the title research phase, they are known as title liabilities or "clouds" on the title. These indicate any issue which could block an unopposed owner's ownership for a long time.

What is title insurance?

Title insurance protects a potential buyer or mortgage lender in the event there are clouds on a title. The seller typically pays for an owner's title insurance policy, but lender's title insurance can also factor into the equation.

Finding out about claims against a title can cause delays and incur expensive administrative fees, but an insurance policy can provide coverage for risks like falsified documents or flawed records.

Understanding title insurance and the risks of title defects will help you be a more informed buyer or seller. When in doubt, work with a real estate agent or insurance professional for more guidance regarding legal claim to a property.

About the Author

Jodie Franklin

I love helping people find their dream home or sell their house in order to achieve their next goals. I have been working hard for my clients for over 18 years throughout southeast Michigan. I have experienced every kind of transaction there is. 

Helping my community and being involved is extremely important to me. I am Past President of the Michigan Ability Partners board, which helps Veterans and people with disabilities reach independent, self-supported, and satisfying lives. I have also been a member of the City of Milan Tax Review Board and Zoning Board, and involved in Milan Main Street. I have been a major sponsor of events for Michigan Ability Partners, Aid in Milan, Milan Main Street, and many more organizations that work to make our communities better. 

I was 2018 President of the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors, Realtor of the year in 2016 for AAABOR and nominee for Michigan Realtor of the Year. I serve on many committees with the local board, state board and was a member of the Housing Opportunity Committee for the National Association of Realtors (2018-19). I am currently serving my second term as a Michigan Realtors Board of Directors. 

I have liked in Milan for over 20 years and enjoy living here with my husband Cliff, son Evan, and dog Rosie.