St. Petersburg Title Services
Serving You and The State of Florida
Real estate transactions are often incredibly complex. Even a relatively simple deal – like buying a house – can often involve complicated legal issues. Getting it right requires close attention to detail to ensure that the property is properly transferred from one party to the other.
One critical part of any real estate transaction is the property’s title. A title represents ownership of the property. An experienced St. Petersburg title services attorney will perform an exhaustive title search to ensure that there are no issues with the title, and then will resolve any “clouds” that may have appeared as part of the title search.
Based in St. Petersburg, the Lopez Law Group advocates for clients throughout Pinellas County, Florida in all types of real estate matters. Our attorneys have years of experience in all phases of the real estate process, and can shepherd you through each step to make sure that your purchase or sale goes as smoothly as possible. Reach out to our firm to schedule a consultation with a St. Petersburg, FL title services attorney.
What Are Title Services, and Why Do I Need Them?
A title is a document that lists the legal owner of a piece of property. TItles can be issued to show ownership of both real estate and personal property (such as your vehicle). When it comes to real estate, you will want to make sure that title is “clear” before buying or selling property.
A clear title means that no one else can lay claim to the property in some way. Before purchasing real estate, a title search will be performed. In this search, an attorney or title company will examine public records related to the property. The goal of this search is to uncover any possible issues that would prevent the seller from being able to transfer the title or the buyer from being able to receive a clear title.
There are many potential “clouds” that could be on a title. For example, if the current owner failed to pay a contractor, they may put what is known as a mechanic’s lien on the property. They won’t be able to sell the property until the lien has been resolved.
In some cases, a cloud on the title is simply a clerical or paperwork error, like a prior mortgage not being cleared from the title after it was satisfied with the proceeds of a real estate sale. The real estate transaction could still go through with this type of cloud, but it is generally important to resolve any title issues prior to closing. As a buyer, you don’t want to take ownership of a property if there is any possibility of someone else making a claim on it.
If there are any title issues, then a St. Petersburg title services attorney can work to clear them prior to the real estate closing. In some cases, if the clouds cannot be resolved, then your lawyer may advise you of your options, which may include backing out of the deal. It is vital that these issues be dealt with appropriately before the closing process begins so that any problems can be addressed as soon as possible.
After a title search has been performed, then title insurance can be purchased. There are two main types of title insurance: lender’s policies and owner’s policies. Generally, title insurance protects the buyer/owner and the mortgage holder from any claims that may be made on the property. If someone tries to assert ownership over the property, then the policy will cover any financial losses associated with the claim, including legal fees.
For example, consider a situation where you purchased a property from an estate. The seller tells you that she inherited the house from her mother, who recently died. A few months after the closing, you find out that the seller had an estranged sibling who also had a right to the property and did not give permission for the sale. A title search might not have revealed this issue if a probate petition had not yet been filed.
In this situation, title insurance will pay the court costs associated with defending against a claim from the undisclosed heir. It does not necessarily mean that you will win any legal action, but it will cover your financial losses including attorney’s fees, loss of equity, legal fees, and moving expenses. The lender’s title insurance will cover the bank’s losses (i.e., it will pay off the mortgage).
In short, title services are a necessary part of any real estate transaction. You won’t be able to get a mortgage or title insurance without a title search. Even if you don’t need to borrow money to purchase a piece of real estate, a title search and title insurance are the best ways to protect your interests in the property and defend against any future claims.
Title Services Our Law Firm Offers
At the Lopez Law Group, we provide a range of title services to realtors, buyers, mortgage brokers, sellers, and lenders throughout St. Petersburg. We have significant experience handling matters related to both commercial and residential real estate. Our title services include:
- Title Searches: Our law firm will conduct a thorough title search of all public property records in Pinellas County to ensure that your title is clear. Once our search is complete, we will issue an abstract of title. This document summarizes all of the transactions related to potential claims on the property. Depending on the real estate, this may include ownership changes, tax liens, lawsuits, homeowners’ association (HOA) restrictions, and utility easements.
- Resolve Title Clouds: If our title review indicates any issues with the title, we will take the necessary steps to resolve them. This may include executing a deed of reconveyance if a paid off mortgage still appears on the title to remove the lender and avoid any potential conflicts, or executing a quitclaim deed to remove prior owners who no longer have a legal right to the property (such as an ex-spouse) from the chain of title. If there is a lien against the property, then we can work with the seller and/or buyer to remove or otherwise resolve the issue.
- File Quiet Title Actions: In some cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit known as a quiet title action to remove all clouds on a title. If the action is successful, the court will issue a formal judgment that will be filed with the Pinellas County Recorder of Deeds that will remove any asserted cloud on the title and “quiet” the property owner’s title.
- Deed Preparation: Our attorneys can draft and prepare a range of deeds as necessary to protect your interests.
- Real Estate Closings: The closing is the final step in any real estate transaction. Our St. Petersburg real estate lawyers will not only perform all necessary title services before closing, but will stand by your side throughout the entire closing process.
For most people, purchasing a home is the biggest investment that they will ever make. Our law firm will help to ensure that your purchase is protected by performing a thorough title search and review and resolving any issues that may interfere with your ownership interests.
Contact the Lopez Law Group for Expert Guidance on Title Issues
Buying real estate can be incredibly exciting – and stressful. Our law firm works hard to make sure that we remove as much of the stress and uncertainty surrounding real estate transactions as possible. This process starts with a thorough title search, where we will examine public records to ensure that they are clear. If any clouds are revealed, we will use our legal acumen to resolve them for you.
The Lopez Law Group works with buyers and sellers throughout Pinellas County on a wide range of real estate matters. Our goal is to ensure that your transaction is as smooth as possible, and that legal title can be effectively transferred. To schedule a consultation with a St. Petersburg title services lawyer, give us a call at 727-933-0015 or fill out our online contact form.
If There Is a Lien on a House, Can I Still Buy It?
It depends. In some cases, you may be able to purchase a piece of property with a lien on it if the seller agrees to pay off the lien or if you choose to pay the lien as part of the purchase price. However, in some cases – such as tax liens – the seller’s mortgage company may refuse to allow them to sell the house.
There are risks associated with buying a piece of property that is subject to one or more liens. A skilled St. Petersburg title services lawyer can help you understand your options when it comes to this type of sale. Reach out to the Lopez Law Group today to learn more about our real estate services.
Am I Required to Have a Title Search Done?
Florida law does not require a title search. However, a title search is often necessary if you need to get a mortgage and/or want title insurance. Few – if any – lenders will give you money to buy a piece of property without a title search to demonstrate that you will have a clear title to the real estate.
A title search protects you in a variety of ways, such as revealing any HOA restrictions or other encumbrances on the property (like an easement). The cost is often relatively low, particularly when compared to the expense of a legal battle if someone challenges your ownership of the property. Contact the Lopez Law Group to talk to a St. Petersburg title services attorney about your real estate transaction.
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What Our Clients Say
Mr. Lopez was a Godsend and really helped me with my situation. Him and the entire firm were very diligent and helped speed the early stages of the process along due to a pressing situation. Throughout my experience working with the firm, they were always responsive and available any time I had a question or wanted to check on the state of affairs. Hopefully I won’t have to recommend Lopez Law Group to my friends or family, but if those unfortunate circumstances arise then there’s only one name I would trust. Thank you again for all your help!
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