Title Searches

Doing title research is crucial in determining if there are any issues with the property title you want to buy, sell, or transfer. A simple title search may even save significant time and money by helping buyers avoid purchasing a piece of property only later to find out before closing or transferring a title that someone else has claims against a new acquisition.

What are title searches?

A title search involves checking records to make sure there are no liens on the title, bankruptcy filings, or defects with the title, and if you are buying, selling, or transferring property.

For example, if another party had loaned money through mortgages, loans, or other types of debts on the property, you might have to pay off these debts to keep title to the land you have just bought.

TIP: A title search should be done for every piece of property that any person or company wants to purchase.

Why are title searches important for sellers, buyers, and people who transfer deeds to related parties?

  • For Sellers: The last thing any seller wants is to sign a purchase contract only to find out that the property has a title defect it can’t be sold or transferred. A title search helps sellers avoid issues before they list and sell their property. If a title defect is found, it can be dealt with before hiring a real estate agent or signing a purchase contract.
  • For Buyers: Buyers want to avoid title defects, too. Before making an offer to purchase any property, a title search can help a buyer ensure no title defects, and you may be able to make, and if a title defect is found, it can help with your negotiations.
  • For Transfers: Even if an existing property owner is transferring property they own to another related party, a title search should be done to ensure no liens or title defects.

Fortunately, title searches are relatively inexpensive and quick to perform if a title agency does them. However, it is strongly recommended that parties use a real estate attorney instead of a title agency because real estate attorneys are highly trained to check for and, more importantly, understand records, lien theory, and the state’s property and title laws.

TIP: The main advantage of using a real estate attorney who is also a title agency because they can offer the title search and legal advice and even help you resolve title defects if they appear on a title search.

Title attorneys do title searches, offer title insurance, help with title litigation, and provide a host of other services to make sure the title is clear of any problems before and if requested; they can even issue a title insurance policy through state-approved insurers.

TIP: Title insurance is only available in states where the Department approves title insurance companies to provide title insurance.

If you want to be sure, the title on your property is clear for transfer or sale, hiring a title attorney may be the best way to go.

What if title defects are found after closing or transferring the deed?

Title searches are the best way to find, deal with, and avoid problems with real estate titles, but if defects do show up after closing or transferring title, it can mean court intervention, which is why a real estate attorney would be a better choice than a title agent for an initial title search because title disputes often end up at the courthouse, where legal proceedings are initiated that involve evidence presented by both sides on who has the right to clear the title of the real estate property.

TIP: If you’re buying real estate property, even if it’s being transferred out of your family via inheritance or donation, conducting a title search beforehand will save time, money, and aggravation later.

If title defects arise that prevent the property from being transferred or sold (e.g., someone else claims title to the property), real estate attorneys can help resolve title defects – title agencies will usually bring in real estate attorneys to handle the title issues, which why it may make sense to use an attorney from the beginning.

Title searches are essential for sellers, buyers, and people who transfer deeds to related parties because it checks that there are no title defects before any legal documents or transactions goes through are essential because they protect your interest in real estate and minimize the risk involved with purchasing and owning real estate.