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.
Who Handles a Property Title Search?
If you are considering whether or not you can conduct a property title search on your own, the best advice would be to hire a professional instead. Hiring a professional title company to conduct a property title search is the only way to know for sure you have investigated the full history of a property in order to find any undisclosed information that could impact you as the home buyer. If you try to conduct the search yourself and overlook an important piece of information, you may end up spending way more money than if you had just hired a title company in the first place.
What Will a Property Title Search Reveal?
A title search can uncover a lot of information about a title. There are numerous issues that could be attached to a title, some more obvious than others. In an ideal scenario, a title search will reveal everything there is to know about a property and you won’t have to worry about any of it. However, sometimes a property title search can reveal a number of defects including:
- Property and boundary disputes
- Property liens
- Missing heirs
- Contested wills
- Utility easements
- Mechanic’s liens
- False documentation/forgery
- Errors in filing
- Divorce decree settlements
- Bankruptcy issues
If any of these are found, you will want to have the current property owner deal with them prior to purchasing the property or you may simply choose to step away from making the purchase. Sometimes the things a title search team uncovers can have massive costs.
Understanding The Property Title Search Process
A thorough property title search usually consists of an extensive examination of public records. Certain crucial information may be difficult to access, especially without the help of an experienced title company. Most title companies today have methods of conducting these searches via large databases of indexed data that allow thorough title property title searches to be carried out faster and easier than ever before.
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.