Title Search

Updated on January 5, 2024
Article byKosha Mehta
Edited byAshish Kumar Srivastav
Reviewed byDheeraj Vaidya, CFA, FRM

A title search involves determining and confirming a property’s legal ownership and investigating its public records. It is highly useful while deciding on buying an asset. Searches of titles are performed using a wide variety of resources, including deeds, tax liens, property records, and court judgments, among others.

Title Search

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Individuals and organizations can make inquiries at any time to determine what claims or liens are attached to the piece of property in issue by placing an order for a search that a title company often carries out. However, if a title search reveals the existence of a lien on the property, the transaction cannot be finalized.

Key Takeaways

  • A title search is a crucial stage in the residential buying process that safeguards the purchaser from monetary loss.
  • A title search entails examining public documents and other data, such as county courthouses and clerks’ offices, to determine the possibility of faults.
  • The title search verifies that the existing seller has the legal authorization to sell an estate and reveals any liens or judgments against it.
  • Although it is feasible to do a title search on one’s own, most purchasers engage an expert title search firm to undertake this task.

Title Search Explained

A property title search checks estate records for liens that may impact property exchange. The owner of a property title has the lawful right to utilize it freely. People like to ensure that the owner and seller have all property rights when searching for a property title. This search verifies that the seller may lawfully transfer property.

Any purchase of property requiring title insurance must include a title examination. This includes residences acquired with credit, as mortgage providers demand a search before releasing loan funds. In addition, a deal involving real estate cannot be finalized without a clear title being shown. Hence, an initial stage in the residential buying process begins with a search. Most mortgage lenders demand title insurance before approving a loan, protecting against a title’s liabilities.

Previous disputes, liabilities, lawsuits, or encumbrances on the estate like overdue property taxes or a breach in the chain of title—may result in a “cloud on title” or “title defect,” which might nullify the property sale or shift the seller’s responsibilities to the buyer.

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Let us have a look at the title search examples to understand the concept better:

Example #1

Sam was looking for a home, and after a few days, he decided on the one he liked and was willing to pay for. First, however, he wanted to go for a search as he knew it would save him money and hassles at a later stage. So he hired an estate lawyer and got it done.

However, it so occurred that there were some missing housing taxes; when this issue was presented to the current owner, he recalled that he might have missed certain payments. As other things were up to date, sam’s lawyer got it sorted out with the current owner, and within a week, sam was able to register the home in his name.

Example #2

A title search is often needed to ensure that the vendor can legally sell to the buyer, the property is lien-free, no land-use restrictions or zoning laws exist, and paying property taxes.

Attorneys draft title insurance policies to cover third-party insurance claims not identified during the first search. A property lawyer can write title insurance policies and evaluate them for exclusions. Moreover, if the search reveals a dispute that the real estate lawyer can’t resolve by updating official documents, a quiet title suit must be filed. This action lists all parties with a stake in the property, placing them on notification to answer or forfeit their rights.

A professional title search may detect facts that the ordinary homebuyer misses. However, some people may be willing to get a title search free by doing it all alone.

Below are the steps following which one can search.

  1. One may view county public records on the state’s website. By selecting applicable county and property title on the state’s website. Similarly, tax records can be found. Tax documents provide further property information and certify that all taxes are paid. Tax histories give reliable estimates of a property’s value throughout time, helping determine its fair market value. County’s tax assessor’s office contains tax lien records that one may verify to guarantee property acquisition is clear.
  2. Next comes checking the title chain. Get the property’s last 50-70 years of deeds and ensure the latest deed matches the seller’s. Overall, try examining for a clean chain of title, which establishes consecutive ownership and guarantees there are no legal claims towards the estate that might lower its worth.
  3. Read the summary of the title. An abstract of title is a simplified narrative of a property’s history, commencing with the grant deed and including tax liens, bankruptcies, inheritances, unpaid bills, restrictions, and encroachments. Before buying, get the latest abstract of the title. While searching, taking notes is recommended. Details like a legal description, tax history, chain of ownership, and other facts can be jotted down.
  4. Lastly, most people seek legal counsel after a general inquiry. Searches are detailed and require expert assistance. Contacting a real estate lawyer after gathering the relevant facts can be helpful. They can help with encumbrances, legal paperwork, and a full-proof land title search. They verify property ownership with realtors and report current and past property owner information. A title company’s records are more thorough than a self-made report.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long does a title search take?

The search could be completed within a few hours, but it will take between 10 and 12 days more often than not. In general, the length of the search is proportional to the age of the home.

How to do a title search on the property?

Find title transfer history. Look for government records and judicial records there. Ensure all property taxes are paid.

How much does a title search cost?

A search isn’t costly in the home-buying process, so most consumers leave it to specialists. Such search reports are often inexpensive, costing 0.05%-0.15% of the property’s value. Additionally, it differs from state to state.

What is title search in real estate?

A real estate search verifies the property’s lawful owner using public records. A search determines who owns a property’s rights by examining all property records to determine whether the present title is valid.

This article is a guide to What is Title Search. Here, we explain the concept in detail with examples and also discuss how to do it. You can learn more about it from the following articles –

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