Brownsville’s business climate is hot, and its real estate market is looking up. For some of its successful business owners, getting into new offices is looking smart.
Whether you’re outgrowing old offices or you want to invest in booming real estate, you may be eyeing an office space purchase.
But simply owning property (or having “title”) can be more complicated than many people suspect.
Cloudy titles with unexpected exceptions sometimes ruin the dreams of real estate buyers.
Past ownership claims
Complicated questions of ownership can lurk in a property for generations only to finally come to light at an unexpected moment.
As strange as it may seem, under certain conditions specified in Texas law, adverse possession (or “squatter’s rights”) can legally pass title from a landowner to a trespasser.
Less strange is that the paper trail for property with adverse possession in its history can be unclear.
Covenants of record
You may be most familiar with the idea of covenants from neighborhood covenants that restrict homeowners from altering their house's exterior or erecting a flagpole above a certain height.
Covenants can also restrict homeowners from selling their house to anyone but a neighbor or county government, for example, and may lurk in the title of the property for decades.
Liens may be the most common sticking point in transferring title.
A lean is somewhat like a second mortgage attached to the primary mortgage to force the owner to pay a debt that's often unrelated to the property itself.
A divorcing spouse might have a lien placed on property to ensure child support is paid, for example. Governments from the city to federal levels may place a lien on property to force tax payments.
Such liens could appear in a title document, often because someone neglected to remove it when it was no longer needed. Sometimes they don’t show up because a seller has committed fraud or forgery.
Over a third of real estate purchases require special work by title companies, attorneys, and/or buyers and sellers to clear up cloudy titles.