When you purchase property in Florida, you must exercise caution to ensure that the seller owns clear title to the real estate. The real estate should be free of any liens, title defects, or other problems that would prevent you from obtaining fee simple title to the property. A Sales Contract should include language that verifies the seller is the owner of the property and agrees to transfer the property to you with a General Warranty Deed. Anything less than a General  Warranty  Deed could indicate a title defect.

Our Jacksonville real estate attorney can assist you in reviewing the contract to determine if you need to investigate the matter further before signing the contract and placing money in escrow for a down payment. Call The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. at (904) 248-4482 or for a free consultation with our Jacksonville real estate lawyer for title defects.

Types of Deeds for Florida Real Estate

A General Warranty Deed typically offers the purchaser the best protection against title defects. When a seller signs a General Warranty Deed, the seller is declaring that the seller owns title to the property free and clear of any title defects or encumbrances that impair your ability to own and use the property. If a title defect or encumbrance is discovered, the seller agrees to indemnify the purchaser. In other words, you could file a lawsuit against the seller seeking damages if another person claims an interest in the property or there is a title defect.

Sometimes a purchaser agrees to accept title to the property under a different type of deed. There are many reasons why a purchaser would agree to another type of deed. However, you should always consult an experienced real estate attorney in Jacksonville if the seller is proposing transferring title by a deed other than a General Warranty Deed including:

  • Special Warranty Deed — This type of deed has the same assertions as a General Warranty Deed. However, the period covered by the seller’s warranty is limited to the time the seller has owned the property. In other words, the seller is only providing a warranty from the date he purchased the property until the date he transfers the property to you.
  • Quit Claim Deed — A Quit Claim Deed transfer the seller’s interest in the property to you without any warranties. The seller does not claim to transfer fee simple title to the purchaser. The seller is basically stating that whatever interest the seller may or may not have in the property is being transferred.
  • Fee Simple Deed — This deed transfer title to the property from the seller to the purchaser without offering any guarantees, warranties, or covenants.
  • Life Estate Deed — With a Life Estate Deed, the seller transfers title to the purchaser while reserving the right to use and occupy the property during the natural life of the seller.

Call (904) 248-4482 to discuss steps you must take to protect yourself from buying property with title defects with a Jacksonville real estate attorney.

How Can You Correct a Title Defect?

In some cases, you can correct a  title defect by working with a Jacksonville title defect attorney. Your attorney researches the chain of ownership by performing a title search. A title search examines the property, including searching for encumbrances, liens, gaps in ownership, potential adverse claims, conveyance issues, rights-of-ways, survey problems, boundary disputes, and other issues that create a “cloud” on the title to the property. When you purchase property, you do not want any defects to “cloud” your ownership and use of the property.

If a title defect is discovered, your attorney may be able to resolve the problem without litigation.  For example, if a mortgage granted by a previous owner is not satisfied or canceled, the attorney may obtain a mortgage satisfaction directly from the mortgage company once the company verifies the lien was paid in full. In the case of a boundary dispute, your attorney may negotiate a settlement with the other property owner. There are many ways an experienced Jacksonville real estate attorney can solve a title defect.

However, if the title defect cannot be resolved, your attorney may need to file a complaint to resolve the defect through real estate litigation. The most common type of action is a Quiet Title lawsuit. A Quiet Title lawsuit places everyone with any interest in the property on notice that you are seeking to resolve the title defects and they must assert their interest in the property now, or they are barred from asserting an interest in the future.  A Quiet Title lawsuit is an efficient way to resolve title defects.

Contact Our Jacksonville Title Defect Attorney for More Information

Call The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. by calling (904) 248-4482 to request a free consultation with our Jacksonville real estate lawyer.