A real estate deed is a legal written document transferring ownership of real property from one party to another. In real estate law, ownership is referred to as receiving title to the real property. The deed contains specific information to legally bind both parties to the transferred title.

What Is a Deed Search?

A deed, or title, search is an examination of county records to verify the seller of the real property is the actual owner and the title is:

  • Not subject to any mortgage claims
  • Not subject to any liens
  • Not involved in any judgments or lawsuits, such as an ongoing quiet title action
  • Not subject to any outstanding claims that may jeopardize the new owner’s possession rights
  • Insurable

The search checks the legal description for the property ownership and tax records.

Who Conducts the Deed Search?

A deed search is conducted by a commercial agent, such as a:

  • Real estate attorney
  • Escrow officer
  • Title agent 

How Is the Search for the Title Conducted?

The individual looks through county records for information about the property. County records include:

  • Court records
  • Deeds
  • Name indexes
  • Property indexes

Can a Title Search Ensure There Are No Problems with the Deed?

No. There are problems a deed search that cannot reveal. These problems commonly include:

  • Forged deeds
  • Fraud
  • Mental incompetence on the part of a party
  • Improperly probated will
  • Clerical errors
  • Titles that cause confusion due to similar names

What Is a Chain of Title?

Whenever someone purchases a property, the transfer of ownership recorded in the county’s land office. Part of the deed search is following the history of passing the property from one owner to another. This history is called a chain of title. Sometimes, issues can arise with a chain of title. For instance, there are questions about how the property was passed from one owner to another or:

  • Two buyers dispute as to who actually acquired the title first
  • Seller does not have actual right to sell property
  • The deed is not valid
  • A party presents a wild deed for the property, which is a deed that appears outside of the chain of title

Should I Contact an Attorney about a Deed Search?

A deed search can help you determine if there are issues with the deed that need to be resolved. If you are buying or selling real estate, it is in your best interest to contact a real estate attorney about a deed search.