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How To Do A Title Search On Property: With The Steps!

Why Put a House in a Trust

Table of Contents

Are you considering buying a property and want to know about its history? Have you ever pondered the question, “How to do a title search on a property yourself?” If your answer is yes, this comprehensive guide is just for you. From understanding what a property title is, to conducting a title search, we have you covered. We will take you on a step-by-step journey, enabling you to conduct a property title search independently, saving you hundreds of dollars in the process.

What Is A Property Title?

A property title, quite simply, is a legal document that denotes the rightful ownership of a property. It could be a house, a plot of land, or even a commercial space. This title signifies who has the legal rights to the property, its history, and any dues or claims associated with it. A property title is an indispensable document in real estate transactions. Ensuring it’s free from any encumbrances is as crucial as evaluating the physical aspects of the property.

What Is A Title Search?

A title search is an in-depth examination of public records and legal documents related to a property. It’s a crucial component of real estate transactions and is usually performed to verify the legal ownership of the property, ensure that the property is free from any liens, and detect any issues that may affect the purchase.

What Can A Title Search Uncover?

A title search can uncover a wealth of information about a property. Here are a few crucial elements it may reveal:

  1. Ownership History: This includes the record of past owners, which is often crucial in determining any potential disputes or claims on the property.
  2. Liens: A lien is a legal right or claim of a creditor on the property of another as security for a debt. If a property has a lien, it could affect the transfer of ownership.
  3. Easements: An easement allows another party the right to use a portion of the property for a specific purpose. This could range from utilities running beneath the property to a neighbor’s right to cross over it.
  4. Encroachments: These are parts of a building or some construction that illegally extends beyond the boundaries of the owner’s land.
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Conducting a title search is like diving into the history of the property. It’s not just about knowing who owns the property now, but also understanding its past. It’s about uncovering secrets that may potentially impact your ownership in the future. However, this process requires meticulous work, often requiring the assistance of a professional.

Why Are Title Searches Important?

Understanding the importance of a title search is integral to a property transaction. Title searches play a pivotal role because they:

  1. Ensure legal ownership: A title search helps confirm that the person selling the property is the legitimate owner and has the legal right to sell.
  2. Identify outstanding obligations: Through a title search, one can identify any outstanding obligations such as liens, mortgages, or unpaid taxes associated with the property.
  3. Prevent potential disputes: A title search can reveal potential disputes related to inheritance or divorce, which may affect ownership rights.
  4. Provide peace of mind: Last but not least, a thorough title search offers peace of mind to the buyer, knowing the property they are purchasing has a clear and clean title.

When To Get A Property Title Search

Typically, a title search is performed when you are considering buying a property. It should ideally be conducted before signing any purchase agreement or during the contract’s due diligence period. Some people also conduct title searches while refinancing their mortgages to ensure their property is free from any unforeseen liens.

How Much Does A Title Search Cost?

The cost of a title search varies widely, often ranging from $75 to $200, depending on the location and complexity of the search. However, by learning how to conduct a title search yourself, you could save on these expenses.

How To Do A Title Search In 7 Steps

Embarking on a title search might seem overwhelming, but we’ve broken down the process into seven manageable steps:

Step 1: Identify the Property

The first step involves accurately identifying the property. Make sure you have the correct address and the legal description of the property. The legal description typically includes the property’s lot number, subdivision name, and other pertinent details.

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Step 2: Visit the County Assessor’s Website

Most county assessors have an online database where you can find information about the property, including the current owner’s name.

Step 3: Check the County Recorder’s or Clerk’s Website

Once you have the owner’s name, visit the county recorder’s or clerk’s website. Here, you can access documents such as deeds, mortgages, and liens that have been filed for the property.

Step 4: Search by the Property Owner’s Name

Enter the property owner’s name in the search box. Make sure to check all records associated with the owner, as they might have connections to other properties as well.

Step 5: Review the Deed

The deed will provide details about when the current owner took possession and if there were any transactions that might affect ownership.

Step 6: Look for Liens or Judgments

Check for any liens, judgments, or mortgages that could impact the property’s title. These may include tax liens, mechanic’s liens, or judgments from creditors.

Step 7: Confirm the Legal Description

Finally, confirm the legal description of the property in all documents matches the original description you obtained.

What If There Are Problems In A Title Search?

If your title search reveals problems like outstanding liens or encumbrances, don’t panic. These issues can often be resolved by negotiating with the seller, or through title insurance, which protects against losses due to defects in the title. Remember, knowledge is power, and by conducting a title search, you are empowering yourself to make informed decisions about your potential property purchase.

Can You Do A Title Search Yourself?

Yes, you absolutely can do a title search yourself! It might seem a little daunting at first, but with a clear understanding of the process and patience, conducting a title search can be a doable task. The process primarily involves meticulous research and reviewing public records. However, if the property’s history is complex, involving numerous past owners or liens, you may want to consider hiring a professional to ensure nothing is overlooked.

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Who Does The Title Search?

Title searches are usually performed by title companies, attorneys, or other professionals well-versed in examining public records and legal documents. They have expertise in tracing the historical ownership of the property, identifying any debts or legal obligations, and ensuring the title is free of any encumbrances that might jeopardize your purchase.

However, as we’ve mentioned, it is entirely possible for an individual to conduct a title search. While it requires a level of due diligence and attention to detail, the process can offer valuable insights into your potential property purchase, and save you some money in the process.

How Long Does A Title Search Take?

The duration of a title search can vary greatly depending on the property’s history and the records’ accessibility. A straightforward title search on a property with few previous owners and a clear history can take anywhere between 24 to 48 hours.

However, if the property has a complex history or if there are issues with the public records, the title search can extend to one or two weeks, sometimes even longer. Therefore, it’s wise to start the title search process early in your property purchasing journey.

Remember, a title search is not just a box to be checked off in your property buying process. It is an essential step that helps you understand your potential property better and protects you from future legal troubles. By knowing “how to do a title search on a property yourself,” you’re equipped to delve deep into the property’s history, uncover any potential problems, and ensure a smoother, safer purchase.

Robbi Cahya Yudha

As an experienced professional in the mortgage loan and property market, Help individuals and families achieve their homeownership dreams.  My mission is to simplify your real estate journey and secure the best possible outcomes in this ever-changing market.