Many people buying or selling houses do not consider whether the property’s title is really theirs to transfer to begin with. However, several issues with the title can preclude buyers and sellers from finishing their transactions, leading to missed deadlines and wasted money. A title search is one solution that can help identify and solve these issues before they lead to larger problems. In this post, find out exactly what a title search is, and find out how they can help ensure that your real estate sale continues without delay.
What is a Title Search?
A title search involves the examination of public records to determine the owner of a property and uncover any claims, liens, or unresolved property taxes connected to it. Ownership can be put in jeopardy by undisclosed heirs who may have a right to the property, faulty deeds with errors, and other potential roadblocks. In addition to clear ownership, the title must also be free of any liens, claims, and other financial burdens, which must be removed before the property can legally be sold. Failing to conduct a thorough title search can therefore result in issues for the new owner later on, as they would be held responsible.
Who Performs a Title Search?
A title search is initiated by a title company or an attorney on behalf of a prospective buyer. The person conducting the search is known as ‘an abstractor.’ In some cases, the lender or another entity may choose to begin the title search instead of the buyer as a condition for the approval of a loan or other credit that uses the property as collateral. A good title agent will be familiar with both the legal and real estate industries, as well as with how public records in your area work and how they can be used to determine ownership and financial burden of a property.
How is a Title Search Performed?
Your title agent, whether an attorney or title company, will use public records and other legal documents to identify the owner, liens and other judgements, loans, and property taxes related to the property. These may include court records, sales history, tax documents, and other important paperwork related to the house.
When the title agent is satisfied that they have conducted a thorough analysis of all the available documentation, they will prepare and deliver a title report for your review. This report will contain information about the property and list any ownership or financial liabilities discovered. Buyers can then decide whether they still want to purchase the house, while sellers will have the opportunity to rectify any issues discovered. Resolution can be quick and easy, or it can take long enough that your loan commitment may be in danger, so carefully consider your options if the house you intend to purchase has title concerns.
Why Conduct a Title Search?
Title searches are an important step in the home buying or selling process because they determine whether the deed to the home can be legally transferred. It also allows buyers to purchase title insurance, which protects their investment in their new home. While a reputable title company will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the title in their search, small details can slip through and mistakes on paperwork can be made. Title insurance protects buyers and lenders from financial loss if these issues are discovered after the sale has been completed. If, for example, it is discovered that the property is legally owned by someone else or that forged documents were used in a sale, title insurance will help you pay for the fees involved with rectifying these situations and helping you keep your home.
The Importance of Working with a Title Company
Because the records used in a title search are public, it is possible for anyone to conduct a title search. However, working with a reputable title company can be an investment that saves you money in the end. Title agents are professionally trained in how to conduct a title search, obtain and review documents, and spot problems with property titles. While doing a search on your own can save you money, it’s likely that you’ll miss some valuable information that could affect the outcome of the sale or cost more money out of pocket later.
Speak to Mathis Title Company for more information about title searches. Robin Mathis is highly knowledgeable in both the legal and real estate fields, allowing her to conduct high-quality searches and provide valuable guidance in the home buying or selling process. In addition to title searches, Mathis Title Company can assist with liens, refinancing negotiations, settlements, and contract review and preparation for clients in the Northern Virginia area.