In the legal world, a title search is defined as the examination of official county records to determine an owner’s rights to real estate property. The goal is to check for any defects that could hinder the transfer of property rights. Common examples can include:
- Outstanding debts. A failure to pay for property taxes or construction work on the property can result in a lien. This puts a hindrance on the transfer of property and, if not settled before the sale, can become the new property owner’s responsibility.
- Unknown easements. An easement is essentially legal permission for a non-property owner to use another’s land. This can take the form of a driveway that meanders between property boundaries. Without a properly drafted easement, disputes can arise.
- Mistakes in the public record. A misspelled street, wrong address, or other error in the details of the property as filed in the public record can pose serious problems before closing on a property. It is important to find and correct these errors as soon as possible.
Finding these and other issues is the first step. Once found, the buyer and seller can negotiate a resolution and move forward with the sale.
How does a title search work?
As noted above, a title search is an investigation into public records. This involves reviewing more than just one set of papers. Those who conduct these investigations should look into various legal documents to carefully track the chain of ownership of the property in question.
Needless to say, not every company handles title searches with the care they require. It is important to find an attorney experienced in this niche area of real estate law to better ensure your interests are protected and reduce the risk of any surprises after closing on the sale.