To avoid any last minute surprises in the closing process and guarantee that the buyer will become the sole owner of the property, a thorough, professional property title search is critical. 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. To avoid any last minute surprises and guarantee that the buyer becomes the sole owner of the property, a property title search is critical to ensuring any property transaction goes smoothly for all parties.
How Far Back Does a Property Title Search Go?
The goal of a property title search is to thoroughly investigate any hidden claims or liens on a property, going back as far as possible. Usually a title company will be able to find information from before the home was even built. It is possible that things can slip through the cracks, but that is what title insurance is for. This insurance protects both property owners and lenders against losing the property due to defects such as liens, encumbrances or errors as well as covering the costs of defending against future, unforeseen claims on the property.
Ownership History and Abstract of Title
After the title search is finished, the title company will know the history of ownership of the property in question. Based on this history, the title company will prepare a summary of the findings, known as an Abstract of Title. A legal document called a Title Opinion Letter will then need to be issued that demonstrates the validity of the title. If the title is considered valid, the title company can then proceed to issue title insurance.
The Property Title Search Process
A property title search usually occurs once an offer to buy a piece of real estate has been accepted. The title company goes through a process of rigorously examining multiple sources to determine if the property is free of liens, pending lawsuits, unpaid taxes, leases, easements, mortgages and other outstanding issues or restrictions that could impact the transfer of ownership. This includes looking at deeds, divorce cases, county land records, bankruptcy records and other financial judgments potentially attached to the property. A clear property title search means the buyer and lender agree there are no outstanding issues that could crop up after ownership has been transferred.
How Long Does a Property Title Search Take?
A title search can take anywhere from a few hours up to five days to complete. There are several factors that can affect the time frame, including:
- The number and availability of documents that need to be reviewed
- The age and transaction history of the property
- The presence of any unresolved liens or other title issues
- The type of property and nature of the transaction
At Scott Title, we will answer all of your questions and keep you informed during every step of the title search process. We have built a reputation for conducting rigorous, thorough and accurate New Jersey property title searches. Our in-depth research sets us apart from others in our industry. Contact Scott Title Services today to learn more about our services.