Property records are legal documents or paperwork that contain vital information about real property or a plot of land. Usually, the term “property records” refers to the deed to the land, which is a document that indicates who has current legal ownership of the property.
Once a deed has been signed and transferred to the new owner of the property, the deed must then be recorded. A deed is recorded by filing it with the recorder of deeds or in the county records department of where the property is located.
This office is also responsible for maintaining all records of transfers and other important notes related to the property in that specific area. Hence, the phrase “property records.”
For instance, if the purchase and sale of a property or residence has occurred, then this transaction needs to be recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds. This same process also takes place when property is transferred as either a gift or through a will.
Additionally, it is important that these records are properly maintained because they are used to alert buyers to other issues, such as if there is a lien or other encumbrance on the title to the property, and if there are any problems with payments involving property taxes.
When are Property Records Necessary?
As previously mentioned, property records should always be updated as soon as any type of sale or transfer of property occurs. This is because the property records can be consulted or searched if another real estate issue arises, such as for:
- Resolving boundary line disputes (e.g., the records can serve as a marker for the boundary lines because they generally include a description of the property);
- Clarifying the rights provided by an easement;
- Settling any outstanding lien disputes;
- Solving any issues related to wills, inheritances, and property shares; and
- Clearing up any concerns regarding mortgages and foreclosures on the property.
In most cases, property records will be reviewed when there is a dispute involving the chain of title (i.e., a timeline that demonstrates the history of ownership of a property).
For example, a person cannot sell their property if they are not the true owner of it. If a dispute arises over ownership during the selling process, the property records may be consulted and a title search will most likely be performed.
This can help the parties to determine who the current and previous owners of the property were. This in turn will tell them who actually has the right to sell the property.
What If a Property Record is Not Available?
If a property record is not available or does not exist, it can lead to serious delays or even cancellations of a real estate transaction. In some cases, it may be necessary to bring an action to quiet title. This is simply a lawsuit where a court may intervene to establish who actually owns the title to a property, which will help prevent any similar future legal challenges from occurring.
In other instances, it can be useful to review other types of property documents (as opposed to a deed) in order to clear up any confusion over ownership. For example, information about a property can sometimes be found by looking at the property owner’s estate documents or tax information.
Another way to gain information about a property is by hiring a real estate lawyer to check the federal court systems. Sometimes missing property details can be found in prior lawsuit documents involving a property dispute, or alternatively, in a bankruptcy matter. A qualified attorney will know which resources to check to find this type of information.
Finally, if a person discovers that their own deed to a piece of property was not recorded, then they should immediately contact an attorney, their title insurance company, and their mortgage lender to ensure that their deed then gets properly recorded.
Not only is it legally necessary to record property documents, but it also protects you from liability or consequences, such as losing your property.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Property Records?
Property records are important because they help to ensure that a person’s legal rights are recorded for future reference. They also make the sale or transfer of property rights an easier and more efficient process. If you have any questions or concerns about property records, you should contact a local property lawyer for assistance.
A lawyer with experience in property law will be able to help walk you through the process of recording your property records and managing any issues involving real estate matters.
Additionally, an attorney can also conduct research on property records to ensure that they are intact and not fraudulent. Hey will be able to represent you in court if you need to file a lawsuit concerning a property dispute.