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What is a property title search?

After searching for a home to find the perfect property, you need to perform yet another search. It is a title search. Searching for properties may not be as exciting as dreaming of browsing or moving in, but it is an important step in real estate transactions and can impact your purchase if a question arises. Here’s what you need to know:

What is the property title?

Property titles are terms used to describe the rights of the owner. It’s not a certificate-like document, but “refers to the concept of ownership,” explains Megan Hernandez, director of marketing and public relations for the American Land Ownership Association.

When buying a home, you need to make sure that only the seller can claim ownership. This ensures that the property has no other claims or liens and that the seller actually has the right to sell your home to you first. That’s where title search comes in.

What is a property title search?

Property rights investigations are free of claims, mortgages, or property issues that a rights company or lawyer may examine public records and claim that another person or entity has an interest in the home. This is the process of confirming.

“This study is done to ensure that we have the marketable rights to real estate, so that the burden does not affect the property rights of the buyer,” said a company in Roswell, Georgia. Cook & James’ closing lawyer Sarah Stiggen explains.

Stitgen states that title search is essential for real estate transactions that require title insurance. This includes homes purchased with a loan, as mortgage lenders need to search for a title to fund the loan.

Landy Liu, General Manager of Homeowners Insurance and Ownership Insurance and Escrow at Better.com, said: “This also protects the lender.”

Who completes the title search?

A lawyer or title company typically performs a title search that begins after the seller and buyer enter into a contract. However, the steps required may vary from location to location.

“In New York City, the investigation is conducted by an independent rights company,” says New York City real estate attorney Greg Maybaum. “Once the contract is signed, the purchaser’s attorney usually orders an investigation of title and either the attorney or the title company provides the completed report to the seller’s attorney. It is the job of the seller’s lawyer to manage and resolve the title issue. “

A company or lawyer usually conducts an investigation at the secretariat of the county or local government where the property is located. With many of the required records available online, searchers no longer have to actually go to the office to perform a search.

“This person is considering many sources related to real estate,” explains Susanne Hollander, a lawyer and professor of real estate at Florida International University.

• Certificate

• County land record

• Property plate

• liens (federal or state)

• Divorce case

• Bankruptcy court records

• Probate deals

• Construction mortgage

• Judgment

A thorough ownership investigation is likely to include details on real estate mortgages, road and sewer assessments, taxes, and other ownership issues, Hollander said.

Once all the information has been collected, the title company or attorney will produce a summary report that reveals what has been discovered about title.

How long does the title search take?

Searching for a title can take hours, but most often it takes 10 to 14 days. In general, the older the house, the longer it will take to find the title. If the owner is long and has a transaction related to the property (for example, a mortgage on a home or a past real estate dispute), more work is needed to make sure there is a clear title.

“Surveys can be done 50 years ago, or as far back as necessary to identify the underlying action and consider each subsequent transfer of property,” says Stitgen. “This guarantees a proper chain of titles to move from grantee to grantee, down to the current owner.”

What if the problem surfaced during a title search?

A title search may reveal one or more issues with the title. Here are some common title issues and the corresponding strategies to solve them.

• Breaking the title chain: This issue can occur if there is something missing in the chain. “If Party A transfers property to Party B and then Party C transfers the same property to Party D, the link from Party B to C is lost,” says Stitgen. “This can be resolved by obtaining a certificate from Party B to Party C, or a certificate from Party B to Party D.”

• Inappropriate or missing legal description of the certificate: Depending on the nature of the error, it is usually necessary to obtain a corrected certificate from the same party in order to correct the error. “In some cases, an affidavit from a scrivener, preferably the party who drafted or recorded the document, or someone familiar with the transaction, may suffice only if the mistake is not significant and not significant. Legal explanation “Changes the nature of”, says Stitgen.

• Lack of Potential Benefits: If the title chain involves a transfer through heritage, it is essential to ensure that the heir has properly waived his rights to the property. “If this isn’t done, we’ll need to get a certificate to release the profits from these parties,” says Stitgen.

• Public securities: A search for title may find undisclosed securities that are not publicly available to the current or previous owner. “If so, some research needs to be done to determine if this has been accidentally left open. If so, you need to get the release from the warranty certificate owner. Yes, “Stitgen advises.

• liens: Mortgages are legal or claim rights to property that is commonly used as collateral to fulfill a debt. Title searches often identify potential mortgages on real estate. To find out if the mortgage has expired, if it may not actually be for the parties to the chain of rights, or if it is a valid lien that requires payment. Additional investigation is required.

• Unpaid property tax: You must pay unpaid property tax or “ad valorem tax” based on the valuation of the home before transferring ownership to the new owner.

According to Hollander, if any of these issues are found, homebuyers usually have three options, depending on what the purchase agreement allows:

1. Ask the seller to resolve the issue before closing.

2. Ask the seller to indemnify the buyer for the cost of resolving the issue.

3. Leave the transaction and receive a refund of the deposit.

Title service costs

Buying a home includes a lot of costs besides the actual home price, and the title search is added to the entire tab. Title services provided by title companies or lawyers have two main costs.

1. Settlement service fees: Includes fees incurred to close the loan, such as wire transfer fees, escrow, and underwriting of mortgage insurance policies. According to Liu, the latter includes title search fees and costs to resolve any issues found. Prices for performing a title search alone often range from $ 75 to $ 100 and can be paid by the buyer or seller if the parties agree.

2. Title insurance: “Title insurance guarantees that the person buying or refinancing a home is the legitimate owner of the property,” explains Liu. “Premium is a one-time fee paid upon completion of a transaction ranging from 0.5% to 1% of the purchase price. Since it is a percentage of the purchase price, premiums may increase as the loan amount increases.”

Can I search for titles myself?

Anyone can search for property records through the county clerk’s office. Also, there is no law that you must not search for ownership yourself. However, experts strongly recommend that you do not try to classify the details of the real estate title yourself.

“To conduct a title investigation requires knowledge of real estate requirements and liens and the ability to navigate the records of various courts. Do this unless you have experience due to the complexity of records and indexing. Is not recommended, “said Patti DeGennaro, Senior Operations Manager and Process Specialist at Title Alliance, Ltd. in the Pennsylvania Media.

“If you want to buy ownership insurance, it’s not enough to do the ownership investigation yourself, because the title insurance company does an expert investigation and investigation before issuing the insurance policy. I’m asking for advice. ”

Anyone can search property records through the county clerk’s office, but experts are strongly advised not to try to classify property rights details on their own.

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What is a property title search?

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