Buying a property is the biggest financial decision most people will make in their lifetime. You want to make sure you are thorough during every step of the process so you won’t discover any big shocks after you close. A property title search is the process of gathering documents that show who has the legal right to own the property in question and, through that ownership, to sell it. While it may seem simple and obvious that the home seller is the owner, there may be hidden claims or liens on the property by other parties that the seller and buyer may be completely unaware of and could lead to problems for you and your family down the road. This is why it is important to find a reputable title company to carry out a property title search during the home buying and selling process.
Liens On Properties Are Public Record
If a property has a lien on it anyone could technically find it through public records. Not all counties will make their records available online, but if you are lucky enough to live in one that does you can even check for liens from the comfort of your own home.
If your county does not provide public records through an online database, you will need to go to the county courthouse to find what you are looking for. In some cases, you may need to pay for copies of the documents you want, but the cost is minimal.
Why You Should Use a Title Company
While it’s possible to perform a property title search on your own, leaving it in the hands of professionals is probably a good idea for a financial decision as monumental as buying a home. It is entirely possible for people taking a DIY approach to miss something huge and it could lead to a major financial headache in the future. In the grand scheme of purchasing a property, the cost of hiring a title company to perform a property title search is negligible compared to the security it provides.
Conducting a Property Title Search
You may be wondering what exactly a title company does when conducting a property title search. Put simply, they search through the title records of the property starting with the current owner backwards. However, it isn’t always as simple as it sounds to find all the information despite most of it being public record. Depending on the jurisdiction, liens and judgments on a property may be filed in a number of different ways – the name of the buyer, the name of the owner, the street address, lot number, etc. A thorough title search will include information about mortgages, street and sewer assessments, taxes and levies and countless other issues that could taint an otherwise sound transaction.