Most Americans are familiar with the concept of title to real estate, or the evidentiary documents—usually comprised of deeds and/or plans—that serves to prove ownership. Title searches and title insurance are somewhat standard accessories of real estate transactions in New Hampshire. Title searches look through the history of ownership of a certain parcel of property to confirm that the seller of a lot is the in-fact owner. They also determine whether any other parties may have a claim to the real estate central to the transaction. Title insurance is exactly what the name suggests- an insurance policy that the title to a piece of property at the time the policy is issued is clear and without any additional claims by any additional parties not named on the title insurance policy.
While a standardized part of real estate transactions, title generally poses no problem to the vast majority of real estate transactions. In other words, the majority of title searches of properties under contract reveal no additional claims to the property by any other parties. Title insurance can therefore be easily obtained. However, some parcels of real estate do have title issues (referred to within the industry as “clouds on title”). These issues prevent title from being “clear” and therefore conclusive as to the correct property owner. Sometimes these clouds on title are revealed prior to a transaction occurring, but in other cases, title issues can arise after transactions have occurred or without any transaction occurring at all- such as in cases of adverse possession, for example.
The resolution of title matters is referred to as “quieting title”; that is, to “silence” any adverse title claims by settlement and/or judicial decree, and the recording of that document in the Registry of Deeds in the county in which the property is located. Court actions regarding quiet title matters are similar to other civil litigation cases in terms of procedure, evidence, and involvement of the appropriate court venue. However, in other ways, quiet title matters are unique. They not only bind the parties to the action (that is, the parties with conflicting title claims), but also are binding upon third parties presently and in the future (that is, any future owner(s) of the property at issue). Further, resolutions of quiet title matters by settlement or court order not only resolve the issue central to the dispute, but are inseparable from the title of the land both presently and in the future.
The Alfano Law Office handles many quiet title actions that arise in a slew of situations. Quiet title issues can arise out of transactional title reviews, resolution of clouds on title, adverse possession claim, and many other situations related to property ownership. For more information on quiet title matters and/or potential resolutions to title issues, please contact our office at (603) 856-8411. You can also contact us at this link.