If you are getting ready to purchase a piece of property, your lawyer will have a title search done on the property before anyone commits to the purchase. This is done for a number of different reasons, and those reasons are to protect your interest as the buyer. Without searches of land titles, there could be issues years down the road that could put you in a difficult position. This article will explain what a title search is, and why it is vital to your transaction.
What is a Title Search?
A title search is looking for any issues, encumbrances, and title deficiencies that may be attached to the property. It will state who legally owns the property, who owned it in the past, and what entities, if any, have liens attached to the property.
A title search will also confirm that there were no unsolicited mortgages on the property, or any other kind of fraudulent activity.
What Information is Provided After a Title Search?
A full title search will provide your lawyer with a detailed account of the property, including:
- The name of the current owners
- How title to the property is held. This is important because if only one person is listed as the seller, but a title search lists other owners, the property can't be sold unless all owners of the property agree.
- Easements on the property. An easement is a right to access the property. This could be for utility purposes, or a right of way to allow someone to cross the property to obtain access to an attached piece of land.
What Type of Issues Are Found on a Title Search?
A title search could come up perfectly clean, allowing the transaction to move forward. However, there are instances when title searches have produced problems with titles that need to be resolved before closing. Common title issues can include the following:
- Omissions or errors in the deed. This could mean a number of different things, but usually these mistakes are typographical errors, or omissions of an entire section of the legal description.
- Mistakes in previous examination of records. This means that an error on the deed could have been from a transaction 10 years ago, and a title search done after the deed was filed still did not reveal the error.
- Forgery. Simply put, someone may have entered into a transaction on the current owner's behalf without the person's knowledge.
- Undisclosed heirs. A previous owner's last will and testament could reveal the property in question was bequeathed to someone other than the current owner and seller.
- Unpaid taxes, liens, and old mortgages that were never paid off.
If there are any issues after conducting a title search, work with your real estate lawyer on how to revolve those problems.