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Some of the most advantageous real estate deals involve below-market properties that need fixing up, such as foreclosures.
In many cases, it’s not just the house itself that needs repairs — so does the title.
You as a real estate investor will likely come across properties that have documentation errors, easements, even liens against them.
So how can you ensure that the title is cloud-free?
You can use what’s called a quiet title action.
What is a Quiet Title Action, and How Does it Work?
Quiet title action is essentially an amicable lawsuit in which there isn’t a monetary settlement. Instead, it resolves technical details of a title, deed, liens, and other property issues.
A quiet title action is a legal process that settles disputes over who owns a property in question.
A quiet title action also corrects any errors in the title’s chain of ownership.
Once a judge makes a ruling, the title becomes “quiet” and cannot be challenged again.
Next, we’ll look at both the advantages and disadvantages of using a quiet title.
Quiet Title Action Advantages
Using a quiet title has several advantages. These include:
- The judge’s ruling on the quiet title hearing settles the ownership dispute and prevents future challenges to it
- The property has a clear title and can qualify for title insurance and financing
- It resolves any documentation errors in the deed or title
- Quiet title secures ownership made with a quitclaim deed
Quiet Title Action Disadvantages
Though it has plenty of advantages, a quiet title comes with its fair share of disadvantages. These include:
- The quiet title process can take up to 8 weeks, and cost as much as $5,000
- Parties other than those you expect may issue a claim during quiet title proceedings, resulting in more time and more legal costs
- Some states allow the defendant to recover their costs — you may have to settle some unpaid bills as part of the quiet title decision
Elements of a Quiet Title Action
While the elements of a quiet title action vary slightly in different states, the most common aspects of it are:
- The legal description of the property in dispute and its street address
- The plaintiff’s title to which a determination, or judgment, of quiet title is sought
- The defendant’s adverse claims to the plaintiff’s title
- The specific date as of which the judgment is sought
- A specific request, also known as a prayer, for judgment of the plaintiff’s title against the adverse claims
How To File A Quiet Title Action
To resolve property disputes with a quiet title action, the plaintiff should file a complaint in the county’s property against the defendant.
The defendant can be:
- previous owner
- mortgage lender
If contested, the quiet title gets settled in court.
If the complaint is uncontested, or if the defendant doesn’t respond to the complaint, the judge issues judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.
To finalize the quiet title, the judge issues a signed court order with his ruling.
The court order then gets recorded in the property’s county.
Quiet Title Templates
Quiet title templates can be found online and are available for download.
Here are a few options:
The Bottom Line: Quiet Title
Each real estate niche comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.
If a property is on an auction block for foreclosure or unpaid taxes, you can safely assume that liens exist for other unpaid debts.
As the new owner, the quiet title process assures you that the property has an undisputed clear title, making it ready to sell whenever you are ready.
A quiet title clears the way to being profitable with your new property.
As a real estate investor, ensure that you are up to date with all aspects of titles. Doing so can ensure that your next deal is the most profitable one yet.