Asked in Real Estate Law for Virginia

Q: Title company never told us about ROW's found during their search. Can we sue after we have closed on the property?

We purchased land in VA in Feb 2021. We chose a closing company and they did a title search. They told us that everything looked good and that we could close on the property. (to me that means that nothing was wrong with the property). After we started construction, one of the neighbors informed our contractor there were several major Right of Ways through our property and that wherever we put our driveway, the neighboring lodge and guests can use it. I confronted the title company about the newly discovered information and demanded that they send me the title search results. (The title search results were NOT provided to us before or at closing.) They advised that I get a lawyer and they would no longer answer my questions. The ROW's were noted in the title search in the exceptions sheet. Can I sue them for not disclosing that information to us prior to closing? We likely would not have purchased this lot or would have negotiated a much lower price.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Richard Sternberg
Richard Sternberg
  • Potomac, MD
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: First, if you closed with a title company instead of a lawyer representing you, you may lack privity with the title agent. The agent represents the insurance company not you, and I’m unaware of a concept of malpractice for agents. The agent has duties to all sides to complete the transaction honestly, but isn’t your legal advisor on the acquisition.

Second, you need to look at the Exceptions sheet, usually Appendix B, to determine whether the right of way is reported and excepted. If it is, you were informed. You just chose not to read it or retain counsel for a review. If it isn’t, the title insurance policy should step up to defend you. Recently, the title companies seem to be denying those claims and making me sue.

Anthony M. Avery agrees with this answer

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