Abstract Of Title

Updated on January 5, 2024
Article byJyotsna Suthar
Edited byShreeya Jain
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

What Is An Abstract Of Title?

Abstract of title, in legal terms, is a summarized history of documents relating to the specific property.  It lists all the recorded documents and legal proceedings that affect the property and its ownership. The primary purpose of this abstract is to provide a clear history of the proprietorship of the property.

Abstract Of Title

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The title abstract can be handwritten, paper formatted, or bundled. Attorneys use this abstract to ensure proper delegation of documents in a transaction. These also inform the parties about the liens and charges attached to them. Therefore, it is used to ascertain the property’s title status and identify potential issues.

Key Takeaways

  • The abstract of the title is defined as a detailed, summarized record of documents that traces the historical happenings with a particular property.
  • It includes liens, claims, restrictions, charges, owner details, or any litigations dating back to its history. In contrast, the abstractor tries to scan this summary for the buyer.
  • Moreover, the cost of these abstracts may include fees for title search, title examination, and abstract preparation.
  • The abstract of the title is typically prepared by a title company or an attorney and used to evaluate the ownership of a property before purchasing it.

Abstract Of Title Explained

Abstract of title refers to a document with details about the property’s history. For example, it includes any liens, taxes, or charges attached to the land previously. In short, this paper has all the transactions, from its original deed to when the property or asset is transferred.

Abstract of title in real estate plays a crucial role in formulating the deed. It serves as proof of understanding the liens, litigations, or any taxes or penalties. Thus, it allows them to make the right purchase decision for a particular property. 

Moreover, the abstract of title fees can vary depending on several factors, such as the property’s location, the complexity of the title history, and the service provider. To update the existing abstract, an individual must pay the attorney $200-$300. However, if they want to create a new abstract, they must pay $1000 or more.

At times, the summary of the title clause might be unavailable for specific properties. For that purpose, parties use Torrens’s title. It is an alternative when the abstract is missing and for property transfers. Besides, in case of availability, property owners can safely store them for future purposes. Furthermore, in the case of corporations and businesses, they contact title companies. These firms usually hire “abstractors” who help in this process. They understand the country surveys, legal information, and property details before the company enters the deal.

In contrast, it does not fulfill certain aspects of the document. Let us look at them:

  • The abstract of the title clause needs to serve as a clear title.
  • It is not validity proof, nor does it justify the title.
  • There are possible chances of errors subject to the property details.
  • The associated abstractors are only responsible for damages due to negligence.

Abstract Of Title Sample

Let us look at the different entries of this abstract of title sample that serve as essential factors in a deal:

#1 – Identifying The Land

Abstractors or buyers of the property must first identify the land before purchasing it. The land can be measured in blocks, lots, meters, or bounds. Besides, identifying the land by its origin country is equally important.

#2 – The Original Entry

This part mentions the property’s first owner as registered by the concerned government. It also includes the location, range, and township that cover a particular land. For instance, it may be read as “Conveys NW ¼ of SE ¼, Sec. 6, Tp. 78, R. 24.”

#3 – Land Patent

When the government first recognizes land, it gets a patent automatically. It includes the date of the deal, filing date, land parcels, and others.

#4 – Platting

This section tells whether land or property was divided or plated. It also includes the date when the landowner gets approval from the city, along with other details.

#5 – Others 

The other details of the abstract include types of deeds, mortgages, if taken any, affidavits, foreclosures, wills and probate, and others. In addition, it also states whether a landowner is subject to bankruptcy. Besides, fines or penalties imposed on it are also a part of it.

Examples

Let us look at the examples of the abstract title for a better understanding:

Example #1

Suppose Tyler and Samson enter a deal where the former buys the latter’s Texas property. Samson had inherited this estate from his ancestors, who were the landlords of Latin America. As a result, Tyler needed an abstract of the title for evidence purposes. Since he had plans to use this land for commercial purposes, learning about its history was vital. Thus, an abstractor on behalf of Tyler scanned the summary and approved it. It also included the charges and penalties against the property in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Later on, Tyler missed some unseen liens on the property. As a result, he accused Samson on behalf of the abstract presented. However, the court dismissed it as the title abstract does not represent any clear title about the property. Also, the abstractor is no longer responsible for it.

Example #2

Here is what the abstract of any property would look like. Let’s assume

Abstract of title:

Property: No 156 Main St., Anytown, USA

Prepared by:  First American (Title Company)

Date of abstract: March 3, 2023

Legal Description: Lot 15, Block 2, Smith’s Addition to Anytown, USA

Ownership History:

  • January 1, 1980: John Smith purchases the property from a Bellingham realtor for $50,000.
  • March 1, 1985: John Smith transfers the property to his son, Michael Smith, as a gift.
  • July 1, 1990: Michael Smith sells the property to Jane Johnson for $100,000
  • October 1, 2000: Jane Johnson mortgages the property with First National Bank for $75,000
  • August 1, 2010: Jane Johnson sells the property to Tom for $150,000
  • May 1, 2015: Tom mortgages the property with second National Bank for $100,000
  • January 1, 2022: Tom sells the property to Sarah Brown for $200,000.

Encumbrances:

  • A mortgage with First National Bank for $75,000 was recorded on October 1, 2000
  • A mortgage with Second National Bank for $100,000 was recorded on May 1, 2015.
  • Property tax liens totaling $5,000 were recorded on February 1, 2022.

Therefore, this abstract is a summary of ownership history and liens affecting the property as of the date of the abstract. The title company assumes no liability for any errors or omissions in the information contained in the abstract.

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Abstract Of Title vs Chain Of Title vs Deed

Although the abstract of title, the chain of title and the deed are part of a legal document; they have distinct characteristics between them. So, let us look at the differences between them:

FeatureAbstract Of TitleChain Of TitleDeed
MeaningIt is a summary to track the historical evidence and transactions relating to the property.A chain of title records of events that state the history of owners for a particular property.A deed is a written document that states the rights and liabilities of the parties involved during the property transfer.
PurposeTo help the potential buyer to decide whether to buy or not. Determines the previous owners of that property.The deed transfers a title, rights, or property to another party.
DetailsLiens, charges, litigations, taxes, and others about the property.Includes only the historical data of the property owners.These include name, property and party details, deal date, signature, and terms and conditions.
ExpressionSummaryWritten recordPhysical-written document
Prepared ByA title company or an attorneyA title company or an attorneyA grantor or their attorney

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who holds the abstract of the title?

The summary of the title is typically held by the title company or attorney who performs the title search. It may also be owned by the property owner or their mortgage lender. However, if the deal occurs between two parties, the property’s seller (or owner) has to transfer it to the current buyer.

What does an abstract of title does not reveal?

The abstract may not reveal specific types of information, such as:
· Easements or rights-of-way that are not recorded in public records.
· Boundary disputes or claims of adverse possession that have not been legally resolved.
· Liens that are not recorded in public records or were missed during the title search.
· Unrecorded deeds or conveyances that may affect the ownership of the property.

What is an abstract of a title for a boat?

Under the maritime, abstract title refers to the record of all documents submitted to the Coastal Guard of a boat or vessel. It includes name, coastal guard number, HULL Identification number (unique identification number for a boat), builder name, and manufacturing place. However, some gaps might be visible in this summary.

This has been a guide to what is Abstract Of Title. Here, we compare it with a deed and chain of title, and explain it with its examples and a sample. You can learn more about from the following articles –

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