A quiet title is a court proceeding where the court is asked to declare someone the owner of a property or to remove a lien against a property. The most common quiet title action in this area is when an investor purchases a property at a tax sale. Because the municipalities often do not personally serve the property owner (and when they do their are often errors), title companies will not issue title policies for properties purchased at tax sales. In order to get a title company to issue a title policy, the purchaser is required to file a quiet title suit that personally serves the owner at the time of the sale.
Frequently Asked Questions
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is “it depends.” Many title companies will issue a policy immediately following the entry of an order in a quiet title action. Other title companies have additional waiting periods after the action is completed. As such, you will always want to check with your title company before proceeding with a quiet title.
Yes. If the quiet title is being filed as the result of a tax sale, there is an option called a “title bridge certificate.” This is a certificate issued by title insurance agent that covers over the title issue. The cost of these certificates is usually about the same as a quiet title action. Moreover, not all title companies down the line will issue policies with a title bridge certificate. As such, while you may be able to obtain these certificates to purchase a property with insurance, you may not be able to use it to sell to another party (unless you purchase another certificate).
You might ask why someone would obtain these certificates if they do not fully cure the title issue, and the answer is usually the timeline. You can obtain a title bridge certificate fairly quickly as opposed to the several months that it takes to obtain a quiet title judgment. Therefore, this might be the option if the sale needs to take place on a short timeline. With that being said, it would be advisable to follow up the title bridge certificate with a full quiet title action so you can move quickly and fully resolve the issue for the future.
Our title company does not issue these certificates, but our law firm does help perform quiet title actions.
Any title defect may be cured with a quiet title action. For example, if an old lender refused to release a mortgage or deed of trust and is now defunct, the best option may be a quiet title. Similarly, if there is a discrepancy between names on two deeds or if a spouse does not sign a deed selling a property, a quiet title might be appropriate.
Another example of when a quiet title is appropriate is if there is a boundary dispute or if someone is claiming ownership of a property through adverse possession. These, however, are usually contested quiet titles which are outside the scope of this page and discussed in more detail on our boundary disputes webpage.
The biggest variable is how long it takes to find and serve all of the interested parties. If some of the parties are difficult to find or avoid service, it may take a while. With that being said, the average timeline for a quiet title action is 90-120 days from start to finish.