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Boring Title: Most Common Liens on Northern Virginia Properties


Title insurance is boring, but Allied Title & Escrow is here to decode the jargon and make it (somewhat) more interesting. This biweekly column will explore the mundane (but very necessary!) world of title insurance while sharing interesting stories of two friends’ entrepreneurial careers. 

Did you know that 1/3 of properties that are put up for sale may have title issues? Not only that, but many title issues can go back decades. Divorce, bankruptcy, estate issues, judgments or tax liens can all affect the ability of an owner to legally sell a home.

These are the most commonly known lien issues in Northern Virginia that can affect your ability to buy or sell a home.

1. Inheritance and Estate Issues

Sometimes an inheritance isn’t as clean as it should be. If an estate does not properly name heirs or a will is contested, a home may not have been legally sold. Estate issues can go back several decades, so you may “inherit” a previous ownership issue.

2. Child Support or Divorce

Complications that come with a sale as a result of divorce include liens as a result of failure to pay taxes, child support or spousal support. In addition, this is a life event that may be rife with fraud and forgery issues. If only one spouse consents to the sale and does not properly involve the other spouse then the title could be at risk.

3. Bankruptcy Proceedings

If there is an active bankruptcy, the title of a house will be in limbo during the proceedings. In addition, if someone owned the home, then married a person in bankruptcy, the title would need to be confirmed clear before a sale could proceed.

4. Contractor or Sub-Contractor Liens

Anytime that work is performed on a home there is the potential for a lien. This may be because the contractor or a subcontractor was not paid. The best way to avoid this as a homeowner is to ensure you have clauses regarding release of liability for subcontractor payments. If a lien was placed on your home, you must make sure with the state of Virginia that the lien was released properly after the dispute was settled.

Title Tip of the Week: Title insurance is only a one time payment and protects you for the life you or your heirs own the home. There is no deductible if you ever have a claim. If you have your own owner’s policy you will be protected from the examples described above!

Next column we will talk about the difference between standard and enhanced policies. Have questions related to title insurance? Email Latane and Matt at [email protected]. Want to use Allied Title & Escrow when you buy a home? Tell your agent when you buy a house to write in Allied Title & Escrow as your settlement company!

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