What is a title search?

A title search is a detailed examination of the historical records concerning a property.  These records include deeds, court reports, property and name indexes, and many other documents.  The purpose of the search is to verify the seller’s right to transfer ownership, and discover any claims, defects or other rights or burdens on the property.

What kinds of problems can a title search reveal?

A title search can show a number of title defects and liens, as well as other encumbrances and restrictions.  Among these are unpaid taxes, unsatisfied mortgages, judgements against the seller and restrictions limiting the use of the land.

Are there any problems that a title search cannot reveal?

Yes.  There are some “hidden hazards” that even the most diligent title search may never reveal.  For instance, the previous owner may have incorrectly stated his marital status, resulting in a possible claim by his legal spouse.  Other “hidden hazards” include fraud and forgery, defective deeds, mental incompetence, confusion due to similar or identical names and clerical errors in records.  These defects can arise after you’ve purchased your home and can jepordize your right to ownership.

The owner of the property I want to purchase has lived in the home only six months.  He had a title search done six months ago.  Why do I need another one?

You need another title search because the owner could, in a very short time, do many things to encumber the title.  For example, he could grant easements or construct improvements that encroach on adjacent property.  He could get married or divorced, or have a lien filed against the property.  It is necessary to conduct an up-to-date title search to uncover any such problems.