Getting Ready to Sell – Cleaning Up Your Land Title

As we move into another Buyer’s market cycle, it is important to remember the lessons Seller learnt the “last time around”. Realtors often recommend to Sellers to “declutter” and “stage” the interior of their homes, however, it is important to remember that, at its foundation Buyers are purchasing “PROPERTY RIGHTS” and therefore its important to ensure, as a Seller, that your Land Title is also “squeaky clean”.

A couple of things to do:

1. Remove any “extra” encumbrances on title – usually Buyers are expecting to see typical first mortgages on title, however where Uncle Buck lent you some money and registered a non-institutional second mortgage, or, where you have a small claims judgment registered against you, these “extra” encumbrances on title, including 2nd mortgages, judgments, builders liens, or certificates of pending litigation, can raise big RED FLAGS for Buyers, if they can be removed prior to closing (or even listing), it can make for a much smoother process.

2. Ensure you (as Seller) and only you are on title as the registered owner – did you inherit the property in a Will? Or, did your parents go on title as this was your first home? Or, have you gone through a legal separation? If you have the full legal rights to sell the home, ensure that you (and only you) are on title. In most cases the transfer to a surviving joint tenant, or to from parent to child, or a transfer in the course of a legal separation is easy (and most of the time a Property Transfer Tax exemption is available and no tax is payable!) Best to take care of these items prior to listing so there is no question when you sign the Contract that you are the person with the ability to sell the property.

3. Return the Duplicate Certificate of Title – A Duplicate Certificate of Title may be removed from the Land Title Office by some banks as security for loans (with or without registration of the mortgage). In the event that the Duplicate Certificate of Title is outstanding, no further transfer or mortgage may be registered on title. Therefore if this has been removed from the Land Title Office, it will bar any sale or mortgage of the property until it is returned and refiled with the Land Title Office.

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