Any legal claim, charge, liability, intrusion, restriction or obstruction against property ownership. Encumbrances affect the marketability of the property and, thus, its value. For example, past due tax and mortgage liens are considered encumbrances because property ownership cannot be fully sold and transferred unless those items are completely paid or somehow addressed. Other types of encumbrances include zoning ordinances, easement rights, restrictive covenants and claims. For more information, see the "Marketable Title" article in the "Real Estate In-Depth" section.
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