Arizona real estate transactions

What is the Role of Title Insurance in Arizona Real Estate Transactions?

What is the Role of Title Insurance in Arizona Real Estate Transactions?

What is the Role of Title Insurance in Arizona Real Estate Transactions? 1920 1364 Gottlieb Law

A real estate purchase is a very large transaction, usually one of the biggest ones most people will ever make. One critical factor that helps ensure a smooth and successful transaction is obtaining title insurance. This crucial aspect of real estate transactions provides an essential safety net for both buyers and sellers. Its role and advantages are often misunderstood, however, leading to many misconceptions.  We’ve put together everything you need to know about title insurance for real estate transactions in Arizona.

Understanding Title Insurance in Arizona

Title insurance is a unique form of insurance that safeguards against potential loss from defects associated with the title of a property. Every purchase of real estate in Arizona is accompanied by not just the structure on the property but also the land and the title, of which a copy is certified and recorded at the County Recorder’s Office, per Title 33 – Property. This title represents your legal ownership and right to use the property.

Any discrepancy or “cloud” related to the history of the property title, however, can pose risks to your ownership. Here’s where title insurance in Arizona comes into play. It protects your property rights against past errors or issues that affect the title, like undisclosed liens, legal judgment, unpaid taxes, or fraud.

Why You Need Title Insurance

The main reason to have Arizona title insurance in place before you complete any real estate transaction in this state is to safeguard your investment against potential defects in the title through assurances of a clear title.

Clear title is one of the first steps in completing the research required for any residential real estate transaction in Arizona. It signifies that the property is free from liens or any legal questions regarding ownership rights. Even after conducting a thorough title search, however, certain issues might remain undetected, which may surface after the property purchase. Should these issues somehow arise, title insurance is a financial guardrail that protects the buyer from any unforeseeable legal issues that may arise in the aftermath of the transaction.

Mandatory for Lender Protection

If your property purchase involves a mortgage, your lender will require a lender’s title insurance policy. The lender wants to know that their interest in the property is also protected, should any title defects arise post purchase. It covers the lender up to the mortgage amount and remains in effect until the mortgage loan is paid off.

What’s more, title insurance also protects homeowners and lenders alike from potential legal issues that might arise, such as a past title defect or certain types of claims. This unique one-off purchase of Arizona title insurance goes even further than this, protecting your interest in the property and your rights so long as you own it.

Clear Title vs. Cloud on Title

While it’s true that the majority of properties will be free and clear from title defects, it’s not impossible for these types of claims to arise. Clear title is deemed to be free from any legal claims or defects that might arise and result in a court action about the actual ownership of the property. It’s a must-have protection method that every homeowner should carefully consider before they make a buying decision.

On the other hand, a cloud on the title refers to any unresolved issue or claim that affects the ownership of the property. It could be an unpaid debt, a lien placed by a contractor, or an error in the property deed. Any such cloud can disrupt the transfer of property rights, making the title unclear.

How to Obtain Arizona Title Insurance

The process of obtaining title insurance in Arizona involves several key steps:

Title Search

The first step towards obtaining title insurance is conducting a title search. This process involves an in-depth examination of a variety of public records to ascertain the true legal ownership of the property in question. Doing so helps ensure that there are no known issues, defects, liens or a “cloud” that may affect the validity of the title. These could include elements such as liens, easements, title fraud, or errors in public records.

Preliminary Title Report

Once the title search is complete, a preliminary title report is issued. This report outlines the current state of the title, showing liens or other encumbrances currently made against the title to the property. What’s more, it identifies the necessary conditions required for the title insurance company to underwrite and issue a policy.

Issuing the Title Insurance Policy

Upon approval of the preliminary title report, the title insurance policy is issued. It insures the policyholder for any covered losses and legal fees that may arise due to title disputes or claims.  Make sure you review the contract on covered losses with a real estate attorney to address any terms, conditions, or exclusions that might present issues or cause a claim to be denied in the future.

Best Practices for Finding Title Insurance in Arizona

Title insurance costs can vary significantly among different companies. It’s advised that you take your time and compare different providers, costs and coverage allotments to find the right Arizona title insurance for your real estate transaction.  A simple online search presents lots of options.  Just keep in mind that working with a reputable title insurance company and officer is one of the best ways to protect every real estate transaction.

Understand the Coverage

Different title insurance policies provide different levels of coverage. Make sure to understand what’s covered and what’s excluded in your policy.

Title insurance policies are complicated and can be difficult to understand. Make sure you talk to a qualified Arizona real estate attorney in advance of buying title insurance to fully understand your needs and best protect your large investment.

When you’re wading into the waters of title insurance, it’s crucial to understand that not all policies are created equal. Each policy has its unique language, terms, and conditions, offering varying levels of insurance coverage. Here’s a quick guide to what’s typically covered and what’s not:

  1. Title Insurance Usually Covers:

    • Defects in Title: This is the bread and butter of title insurance. It covers issues like forgery, fraud, or errors in public records that could affect your title.
    • Undiscovered Liens: Sometimes a previous owner might have left unpaid debts that are attached to the property. Title insurance can cover you against these surprises.
    • Encumbrances and Easements: These are rights or claims others may have on your property, like a utility company’s right to access part of your yard for maintenance.
    • Legal Challenges: If someone contests your ownership based on an old will or a previously unknown heir, title insurance steps up to defend your title.

  2. Title Insurance Typically Excludes:

    • Property Zoning Issues: If your property isn’t zoned for your intended use, title insurance usually won’t cover this.
    • Environmental Regulations: Issues like wetland regulations and other environmental restrictions aren’t covered.
    • Post-Purchase Matters: Events affecting the title post-purchase, like a new lien or judgment, aren’t usually covered.
    • Known Defects: If you’re already aware of a title issue at the time of purchase, it’s likely not covered.

Never assume that your policy covers or does not cover anything listed above or anything you might have been told.  Always read through the entire policy agreement carefully and review with a real estate attorney.  

Importance of a Real Estate Attorney in Title Insurance

A real estate attorney can play a pivotal role in the process of review options and obtaining title insurance. Here are a few of the ways they can assist with title insurance for your next real estate transaction:

Provide Legal Guidance

Attorneys can provide valuable legal guidance throughout the title insurance process. They can help understand the terms and conditions of the policy, clarify the rights and obligations of the policyholder, and explain the implications of any exclusions.

Review Title Search and Preliminary Title Report

An experienced real estate attorney can meticulously review the title search results and the preliminary title report. Using their expertise, they can help find any issues and potentially even resolve before the transaction is conducted.

Advocate for Your Rights

In case of a title dispute or claim, a real estate attorney can represent your interests. They can act on your behalf with the title insurance company and even help defend your interest should a court action result.

Speak to an Attorney at Gottlieb Law

At Gottlieb Law, we pride ourselves on our comprehensive understanding of real estate law and our commitment to safeguarding our clients’ interests. We provide expert advice on all aspects of real estate transactions, including title insurance. Contact us today to explore how we can facilitate your real estate transactions in Arizona.

With a successful track record in real estate litigation and transactions, we leverage our substantial legal experience to achieve superior results for their clients. Our team of experienced attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants provides clients with an unmatched experience. To learn more about their services, contact us online or call us at: 602-899-8188.

Gottlieb Law - Arizona real estate transactions

Most Common Things that Can Go Wrong During an Arizona Real Estate Transaction

Most Common Things that Can Go Wrong During an Arizona Real Estate Transaction 1930 1086 Gottlieb Law

Many people assume that once the real estate purchase contract is signed the hard part is done.  Buyers and sellers, however, need to understand there are many common things that can happen during the transaction causing the deal to fall apart. When it comes to real estate transactions in Arizona, it is important to be aware of the potential issues that can arise and understand the process from start to finish in order to give yourself the best chance for a smooth and successful transaction. Having a knowledgeable real estate agent and experienced attorney to guide the process can help avoid and resolve common issues as well.  Here are some of the most common things that can go wrong during an Arizona real estate transaction so you can be prepared in 2023.

Inspection Issues Lead to Disputes

The Arizona standard residential resale real estate purchase contract, used generally when real estate agents represent the buyer or seller, includes a 10 day inspection period.  This provides the buyer the opportunity to hire a home inspector and any qualified specialists to review all details of the home before moving forward with the purchase.  It is common for a buyer to find some issues with the home that impact their interest in buying the home and the ultimate price they are willing to pay.  Common small issues will typically be resolved with the seller agreeing to repair the defect before closing or adjust the sale price so the buyer can resolve the matter after closing.  Larger issues, like structural damage, mold or insect infestations, can often lead to a buyer deciding not to move forward with the purchase of the home.  It is generally good practice for anyone involved in a real estate transaction to stay patient and allow the inspection professionals to do their job during this period before assuming the transaction will move forward.  The results of the inspection will need to be considered by both parties and adjustments to the purchase contract and price are a normal part of an Arizona real estate transaction.

Title Issues

Title issues can be a major hurdle when it comes to completing a real estate transaction. Common title issues include unpaid taxes, liens, encumbrances, past due mortgages, or even recorded court judgments (please note the Arizona legislature recently amended Arizona statutory laws impacting the homestead exemption). These issues can create a cloud on title, making it difficult to transfer ownership of the property. Title issues can also make it difficult to secure financing, as lenders may not approve a loan if title issues are present. In some cases, title issues can even make it impossible to complete a transaction. Fortunately, there are solutions available to help resolve title issues. Great title companies have experienced professionals who can help identify title issues and find solutions. Additionally, title insurance can help protect buyers and lenders from potential losses due to title issues. Finally, in some cases, it may be possible to negotiate with the holder of the lien or mortgage to resolve the issue. By taking the time to identify and address title issues, buyers and sellers can resolve many title issues and still complete a successful real estate transaction.  Some situations involving title issues warrant hiring real estate counsel to protect the client’s interests.

Buyer Runs Into Financing Challenges

Financing issues are common and can happen to buyers that have been pre-qualified for the purchase. Pre-approval letters issued by a lender do not mean that the buyer will be fully approved in the underwriting process. These financing issues can have a major impact on a transaction, causing delays, changes in terms, or even the cancellation of the transaction altogether. To avoid financing issues, both parties should have a clear understanding of the other’s financial situation and the terms of the transaction.

Financing issues can also arise if the home appraises for less than the purchase price.  The lender will typically not approve a mortgage in these situations and both parties will have to negotiate a suitable path forward.  Sellers should consider that lower-than-expected appraisals will impact other buyers’ ability to purchase the home as well.  In a hot real estate market, some buyers might be willing to make up the difference in value with additional cash payment at closing.  This is obviously dependent on the buyer’s ability to facilitate that payment and their desire to move forward with the transaction after finding out the appraised value.

If financing issues arise during the transaction, there are solutions available, such as extending the timeline, renegotiating the terms, or finding alternative sources of capital.  The available solutions will often depend on both parties’ willingness to agree on a new timeline so the buyer has time to find new financing.  Flexibility is advised if both parties genuinely want to complete the transaction.   

Closing Issues at the Finish Line

Closing issues can have a significant impact on the successful completion of a real estate transaction. Common closing issues can include an unexpected lien on the property, title defects, a delay in obtaining insurance, or an issue with the buyer’s financing. It is important for all parties involved in a real estate transaction to be aware of potential closing issues and how they can impact the transaction. Depending on the nature of the issue, it is possible that the closing date may need to be pushed back or that the terms of the transaction may need to be adjusted. In the event of a dispute, it may be necessary to involve a third party such as a title company or an attorney to help resolve the issue. Solutions for closing issues will depend on the specific situation, but may include having the buyer or seller provide additional funds, having the buyer or seller withdraw from the transaction, or negotiating a new agreement. It is also essential to determine if any closing issues will affect the buyer’s ability to obtain a loan or insurance and adjust the terms of the transaction accordingly.  

Finally, it is common for the buyer to discover issues post-closing, more commonly known as non-disclosure issues.  Buyers are advised to seek qualified real estate counsel in these situations to get a complete assessment of their legal rights and options.

Expert Real Estate Attorneys Can Guide Transactions to a Successful Closing

Anyone looking to buy or sell real estate should be prepared for common issues to arise during a transaction.  The purchase process is designed to allow both parties time to gather all the information necessary and resolve any potential issues.  Working with licensed real estate agents and experienced real estate attorneys can help avoid common pitfalls and provide both parties with solutions to most common problems.  The attorneys at Gottlieb Law have provided industry-leading representation to Arizona buyers and sellers in the real estate market for more than a decade.  We can help avoid common issues and achieve your real estate goals.  Contact us today at 602-899-8188 or schedule an initial consultation online.