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A just title is a legal title free of any encumbrances that might make it difficult to transfer, such as a lien or a dispute about the legal ownership of the property. This term is commonly used in reference to real estate, although it can apply to vehicle titles and other types of titles as well. When something has a verified just title, it is more marketable, as potential buyers will be confident that the transfer will go smoothly once the purchase goes through. For this reason, it is sometimes known as a marketable title.
Terms like “clear title,” “free and clear title,” and “good title” all mean the same thing as “just title.” In all cases, people determine whether a title is clouded by running a title search. There are services that can perform title searches for a fee and people are usually advised to consult them, as they have experience in researching titles in addition to access to a variety of sources of information on property titles.
In a title search, people will look up the records pertaining to the title in a regional records office like that maintained by a county clerk. If there are any liens on the title, they should be stored in these records. Likewise, conflicting claims about ownership will also be noted. People can also look up court records for cases concerning the title, and in some cases, people may perform an investigation to see if there's a history of issues like a family argument about who legally has the right to property. The results of these investigations are pulled together in a title report.
The title report will indicate if property has a just title, and provide information to back up this assertion. Title search companies are very careful about how they do their research, but sometimes information slips through the cracks. Companies might not be aware of a second set of records at another location, for example. Thus, the report usually includes a legal disclaimer saying that the company's due diligence did not turn up any problems with the title, but this doesn't mean problems will not arise when the title is transferred.
If a property does not have a just title, steps must be taken to remedy the situation. Sometimes this is as simple as getting an outdated lien lifted; a lender might have failed to file paperwork to release a lien after a mortgage was paid off, for example. Liens may also need to be paid off or resolved so they can be lifted, or disputes about the clarity of a title will need to be litigated or settled in order to clear the title. People involved in such disputes may use attempts to sell property as leverage for getting more out of the case and it is advisable to try and resolve any title problems before putting a property on the market and alerting people to the fact that it is for sale.