Knowing what is quiet title and when to use it is important if you want to avoid making a big and costly mistake. If you want to ensure a clear title free of any defects or ownership disputes, then you need to understand the importance of a quiet title action.
I’m Ted Thomas. Today, I’ll be answering your question, what is quiet title, and I’ll explain the reasons, process, and research involved so that you know what is quiet title, when to use it, and the difference between that and a quitclaim deed.
Table of Contents:
- When to Use Quiet Title Protection
- County Errors May Make a Quiet Title Necessary
- Retaining a Quiet Title Attorney
- When to Use Quiet Title or Quitclaim Deeds
- Research Encumbrances to Know When to Use Quiet Title
- What Quiet Title Means
- When to Use Quiet Title and How to Do It
- When to Use Quiet Title to Sell Property Quickly
- Quiet Title vs Quitclaim Deed
- How Much Could a Quiet Title Cost?
- Quiet Title Definition
- Do You Talk to the Property Owner or a Quiet Title Attorney?
Let me start out by saying I’m not an attorney, but I am an entrepreneur, and I’ve been involved in tax lien certificates and tax deeds for 30 years. I started as an investor, then I became an educator, and I’ve created everything from interviews to audio CDs, DVDs, etc. I conduct seminars three or four times a year and offer world-class coaching for people that really want to do this and make money.
So what am I going to talk about? I’m going to talk briefly about what is quiet title and when should you use it. This is a challenge for a lot of people that get involved in the tax lien certificate business, and I want to make sure you don’t make any mistakes. That’s why it’s important to know when to use quiet title.
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When to Use Quiet Title Protection
Tax auctions take place for a reason. We’ve learned a lot about tax auctions over the years, and they’ve been going on for a couple of hundred years. As part of all that, we’ve learned that when the County sells a property, they might not have done all the clerical work correctly.
When anybody sells a property, they might not have assured that the loans were off the property.
If we’re talking about properties that have had difficulty and gone to tax auctions, they go to tax auction for a reason and it’s usually not pretty.
The property might not be pretty because someone didn’t take care of it. It’s probably been used and abused, but it also might have title problems or land problems or other problems. That’s when a quiet title is going to come into use.
When you acquire a property at an auction, you might want to use a quiet title when you sell it.
County Errors May Make a Quiet Title Necessary
Usually the government officials mean well. They’re in the process of getting rid of a lot of property, so they might hurry and not get all the paperwork done properly. That doesn’t mean that they intentionally sold you something with issues, but they’re going to disclaim any problems by issuing a quitclaim deed.
What is quitclaim? A quitclaim deed will say in big bold letters, in most cases, that whoever is issuing the deed is disclaiming that it’s not their problem anymore.
They’re disclaiming anything that’s on the property. Whether it’s bad or good, they’re just passing the property onto you.
If you bought a property at auction, you might want to sell and use a quitclaim deed and disclaim any responsibility yourself.
Now, I’m just an entrepreneurial guy that learned how to do tax lien certificates and tax deeds. Then I got a lot of questions from friends, and I helped them. I slowly got into the business of educating people to teach them how to do it, but I use it for my own investment requirements and you can too.
There are just some things you have to be cautious of.
Retaining a Quiet Title Attorney
If you are going to get a quiet title from an attorney, at first interview that attorney. Make sure they know about the chain of title. You want a gray-haired, old guy that’s been doing this for a while.
Tax sale buyers make a lot of money if they’re shrewd and conservative. You don’t want to be bold. You don’t want to be aggressive.
My whole system is this, buy it low, sell it low, and move on to the next property. To clear the title before selling it, see an experienced quiet title attorney
When to Use Quiet Title or Quitclaim Deeds
Now, I keep telling you that I’m not an attorney for a reason. I don’t want to be accused of giving legal advice, but I’ve got to tell you, there are some things you’ve got to be careful of. One of them is quiet title. Another one is quitclaim deeds.
A lot of people gets these confused. If you want to sell a property and not have anything to do with it, then you sell it with a quitclaim deed.
For example, if a husband and wife get divorced. He could quitclaim his interest in the property. That’s fine. When he does quitclaim, now she owns the property.
Well, what if there were loans on that property they didn’t know about? What if there were some liens or encumbrances on the property?
Research Encumbrances to Know When to Use Quiet Title
Properties could have burdens. They call those encumbrances.
Where do I go to research? Well, I try to, number one, research at the County.
However, if you ask anybody at the County any question, they will simply say, “Oh, I can’t tell you that. I’m not an attorney, and I can’t give legal advice. I can’t give legal aid.”
We’ll hear that a million times at tax auctions. You’re only asking a simple question like, “What’s the price of the property?”
“Oh, I can’t give you legal advice.”
So the point is, you’re going to have to start doing some research.
The easiest way is to hire an attorney that knows this, and put them on some kind of short retainer and say, “I’ll pay you so I can ask you questions.”
99% of the people that I do business with don’t even want to go look at the property, which is the biggest mistake they could make, let alone do the research I’m talking about.
What Quiet Title Means
Understand what quiet title means as well as when to use quiet title. Understand that you are passing properties on. You don’t want to pass on any liens that are on this property.
So what is quiet title and what does it mean? It’s a legal process that ensures the new buyer, that they’re getting a property free and clear of other encumbrances.
You’re not making any judgments. Title companies, attorneys, and juries make judgments. We don’t want to do any of that stuff; we want to make sure we’re using the right people.
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When to Use Quiet Title and How to Do It
So how would you use a quiet title? Well, first let me give you a little explanation which I’m actually going to read so I can get it pretty close to right.
I’m not giving you legal advice, I’m just trying to tell you what Wikipedia said. You can look up these things and get a little baseline information, enough to be able to talk to the attorney.
If the County hasn’t done the paperwork, and now you sell it to somebody else, the problem is going to end up in your lap.
So what did Wikipedia have to say about a quiet title? I’m quoting: “Special legal proceeding to determine ownership of real property.”
A legal proceeding is a lawsuit. A party claim of ownership to land can file an action to quiet title, which serves as a sort of a lawsuit. That’s exactly right, a lawsuit.
So the quiet title people are going to do what? What they’re going to do is they might end up filing a lawsuit. Now that’s pretty broad so I’ll come back to that in a minute.
Why are you going to have to do a quiet title? Or why are you issuing a quitclaim deed? Well, there’s a lot to say about that, but you don’t need to know very much.
What you really need to know is that when you go to sell, the title company for the buyer is going to say, “Is the title clear?”
You want to say, “Yes,” but do you really know? You’re going to say, “I bought it from the County.”
Well, I’ll tell you who isn’t going to trust the County, the title company won’t trust them because if the County hasn’t done the paperwork right, they’ve got the insurance policy that’s going to have to pay. So someone is going to quiet the title.
When to Use Quiet Title to Sell Property Quickly
Now, if you don’t want to do a quiet title action, just tell the buyer, “You do it.” But in many cases, if you want to sell quickly, you’ll probably do the quiet title yourself.
Could there be a mortgage left on the property? You don’t know. You don’t know if the County did the paperwork right.
Could there be another kind of lien on the property of any kind or a judgment from a vendor that put a new roof on? Could there be a state lien or a federal lien? You don’t know unless you’ve done a quiet title.
When you want to sell, you could sell with a quitclaim deed and say in your deed, “I disclaim any responsibility.” Don’t think for a second that the County didn’t sell it to you that way.
Someone is going to have to quiet the title on this property. It’s nothing to be afraid of; it’s just a process. Sooner or later, it will get cleared.
Can it get cleared in two months? Two or three months is usually what it takes, but I’ve had them take me a whole year.
Quiet Title vs Quitclaim Deed
Let’s talk about what is quiet title vs. quitclaim deed. I know if I use a quitclaim deed, I can disclaim all responsibility.
I’m going to read it and it says, “a quitclaim deed disclaims all interests and does not promise good title is conveyed.”
If I’ve told the buyer that and told them that ahead of time, that’s legal eagle.
Well, I’m going to tell you when you’re going to find out. You’re going to find out after you got the property because the County doesn’t even send you that stuff for 60 or 90 days.
So I say, be conservative, just take your time. Know what you’re getting.
How Much Could a Quiet Title Cost?
You might have a property that’s worth $400,000 that you just bought for $50,000 at a tax defaulted property auction.
The quiet title process might cost you $3,000 or $4,000.
So you spend $50,000 and another $3,000 or $4,000. It looks to me like that was a good deal.
Title companies recognize that the County doesn’t always do the work right. You’re going to be the victim of it, but there are processes in place to handle all of that.
Let me do a summary: Be conservative, buy low, sell low, and hire an attorney to do the paperwork if you have to.
Quiet Title Definition
What is quiet title’s definition?
“A quiet title action is also known as an action to quiet the title in a circuit court or in a lawsuit that is filed with the intended purpose to establish a clear title to a property. The lawsuit is meant to remove or quiet a claim or objection to title.“
I just got that from Wikipedia. I’m in the business of teaching you; that’s all I’m trying to do.
Visualize if someone left a mortgage or a lawsuit on the property, and you didn’t know about it. This is when to use quiet title. You clear it all off of there.
If you’re going to sell it, try to sell it with a quitclaim deed to make sure that you don’t take responsibility.
Do You Talk to the Property Owner or a Quiet Title Attorney?
Some people actually worry about talking to the property owner. Well, I understand you wouldn’t want to talk to property owners about this kind of thing, would you?
When you’re in the tax lien and deed business, you’re never going to talk to the property owners. You’re going to actually do all the work yourself with an attorney.
There are some cases in Georgia where they’ll give you the opportunity to talk to the owner if you want to, but it’s not necessary. You don’t have to do that.
So don’t let that be holding you back from getting involved in tax lien certificates or tax deeds.
We hope you learned a lot from today’s lesson, “What Is Quiet Title?”
Knowing what a quiet title is and when to use it can save you a lot of trouble. When you pick up a property at a tax deed sale, be aware that the county doesn’t always do the paperwork correctly, and they will disclaim their errors. This could leave you with an encumbrance on the title that you must clear if you want to sell the property.
There’s a difference between a quiet title and a quitclaim deed, and it’s important to know when to use a quitclaim deed and when to use quiet title.
A quitclaim deed enables you transfer ownership of a property while disclaiming all responsibility for any issues with the property or title. While a quiet title is a lawsuit done to ensure that the title is clear.
The most secure way to do a quiet title is to hire an attorney and vet that attorney. However, it is important to know what is quiet title and when to use it, so you’ll know the right questions to ask.
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Ted Thomas is America’s Leading Authority on Tax Lien Certificates and Tax Deed Auctions, as well as a publisher and author of more than 30 books. His guidebooks on Real Estate have sold in four corners of the world. He has been teaching people just like you for over 30 years how to buy houses in good neighborhoods for pennies on the dollar. He teaches how to create wealth with minimum risk and easy-to-learn methods.