How do I know if I have a title issue?
Property owners usually find out about title problems when they try to make some change to their land, its boundaries, or its owners. Title issues may arise when owners:
- Erect a boundary line fence
- Install a swimming pool
- Sell all or part of the land
- Subdivide part of the land
- Add on to their buildings or structures
Title issues can also arise, concerning property owners or their neighbors, when surrounding landowners seek to make any of the above changes to their land. The title issue may reveal a disputed boundary line or an area where it appears that two different owners have title to the same strip of land. These problems with land titles are called “clouds” upon title, and they can be resolved in many different ways.
Read about the basics of a Real Estate Deed.
Clouds upon title are often revealed when one property owner or someone acting for the property owner conducts a title examination. In a title examination, a lawyer, or someone acting for a lawyer or contractor, may review the title history of a piece of property. The title history is known as the “chain of title,” and the chain of title tracks all the various previous owners of a piece of property. Whenever property is bought or sold, the selling party (called the “Grantor”) gives a deed, usually called a warranty deed or quitclaim (not “quick-claim”), to the receiving property owner (called the “Grantee). This deed is then recorded in the Clerk of Superior Court of the county where the property is located.
The Clerk of Court of every county in Georgia is required to maintain what is called a Grantor and Grantee index. This index lists alphabetically the names of every single grantor and grantee for every single deed recorded in that County. To establish the chain of title, then, the title examiner finds the current property deed and the finds all the prior property owners using the Grantor or Grantee index.