Buying property is a lengthy process that involves many documents. One of the most important of these is a title report--a report on the legal history of a given piece of real property. While it's certainly no gripping piece of literature, it's a crucial element of the process, allowing you to identify potentially very dangerous problems associated with the title to the property.

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Why You Should Read It

Reading through a title report can be challenging, as you willdefinitelybe wading through lots of legal jargon. However, it is necessary if you want to avoid buying the property blindly. The report is a result of an extensive title search in public records, intended to provide an overview of the history of ownership, encumbrances on the property, and any other relevant elements of legal history. These include liens placed on the property (for example, if the homeowner never bothered to pay a company renovating the house in full), easements, encroachments, etc. It will also show you any restrictions that might be placed on the property; for example, if a property is considered to be a part of a historical district and has restricted development options, the report should include this.

Why You Should Get an Attorney's Help

The best way is to analyze the title report closely with help from your attorney or real estate agent. Information on any problems the property may have is invaluable. Note that you should report any discovered issues to the title agent and seller immediately, so that they can work on fixing them as fast as possible. If the issues are serious enough, you may consider invoking title contingency and backing out of the deal. Of course, this depends on the severity of the issues. In some cases, an easement might not be problematic enough to warrant abandoning an otherwise excellent property.

Need help interpreting a title report? Ask a lawyer.

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