A title search is an examination of county records to determine the property’s title history by a commercial agent such as a title company, an attorney, or escrow officer. The records examined include deeds, court records, name indexes, property indexes, as well as many other documents. The function of the title search is to verify that the seller is the actual legal owner of the property and to ensure that the title is not clouded, has no mortgage claims, liens, title claims, judgments, or any other outstanding claims that can jeopardize the grantee’s right of ownership. If title insurance is involved, the title company must also determine whether the title is insurable as part of the search process.
Each title search company or attorney that performs a title search may review different documents. Generally, a title search company or an attorney will review:
- All public and court records
- The chain of title
- Property tax records
- Legal descriptions
- Liens or other claims
Yes, there are problems that a title search may not reveal. The most common include:
- Mental incompetence
- Clerical errors
- Improperly probated wills
- Confusion due to similar or identical names
Title insurance is available to limit the risk of such mistakes. If a title problem later arises with the title, the title insurance company will pay any damages to the title holder or will correct the problem.
Deeds are very important documents which affect ownership interests and rights in parcels of real property. A real estate attorney can properly do a title search for you thereby minimizing the risk involved in purchasing real estate. A real estate attorney can also help you defend any attacks on the title to your property.