Technically…you don’t need a lawyer when selling land. Real estate can be considered ‘sold’ when a deed transferring the property to its new owner is recorded with the appropriate government office. The ‘appropriate government office’ varies from state to state. Generally, these government offices are called Clerk of Court or Recorder of Deeds.
In some scenarios, a lawyer is a must-have in order to obtain title insurance.
Title insurance is an insurance policy that guarantees that your land’s new owner will own it ‘free and clear.’ In other words – title insurance guarantees that you (and anyone else you may own the land with) are the rightful owners and you have the legal right to sell your land.
In most cases, title insurance will be necessary if you are selling land. Some situations where a buyer wouldn’t mind if the land doesn’t have a title insurance policy would be if you are selling land under…say…$1,000 or you are gifting the land.
Here are 2 questions to ask when selling land…
- What state is the land located in?
- Do you have ‘clear’ title?
What state is the land located in?
Certain states require that a real estate attorney oversee the purchase and sale of land. In states that do not require an attorney, real estate transactions are handled by title companies.
Real estate attorneys and title companies generally do the same thing for basic real estate transactions. They verify who the legal owners are and help issue a title insurance policy for the land.
Do you have ‘clear title’?
‘Clear title’ is real estate lingo to say that no one else can claim they own your property. If you purchased your property and was provided a Warranty Deed then you can consider that you have clear title.
Questions about the true and whole ownership of a property comes in to play when…
- You inherited the land
- A death of one of the owners
- The property is in a trust, estate or owned by a company
A title company or real estate attorney can perform a title search to determine who has the legal right to sell the property. A property may need to be probated if one of the owners has died. An attorney would be required to perform a probate.
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