Greetings, readers! Dave from TitleSearch.com here, and today, we’re going to delve into the fundamental aspects of performing a real estate title search. Whether you’re a seasoned investor, a prospective homebuyer, or just curious about the intricacies of property titles, understanding the basics is essential. Let’s break down the key steps involved in this crucial process.
1. Locating the Property: The County Connection
In most states, real estate title searches take place at the county level. It’s vital to determine the exact county where the property is located, as this information is central to the entire process. With 3,611 recording venues across the country, nearly all at the county level, identifying the county sets the stage for a focused search.
2. Courthouse Exploration: Where Records Reside
Once the county is identified, the next step is locating the specific courthouses that house the relevant records. Typically, there’s a recorder of deeds or a County Clerk responsible for real estate records like deeds, mortgages, liens, releases, and various other documents. Additionally, civil court records may hold judgments, lawsuits, and claims against a person, potentially impacting the property.
3. The Importance of In-Person Visits
It’s crucial to emphasize the importance of visiting these courthouses in person. While online or third-party records may provide some information, they may not always reflect the official title accurately. Plan on spending 7 to 9 hours on average for a comprehensive title search on a residential property, with minimal costs associated with in-person visits.
4. Name Index and Document Retrieval
Property records are primarily indexed and searchable by the name of the property owner. Utilizing a name index at the courthouse, retrieve all relevant documents such as liens, mortgages, deeds, releases, assignments of mortgage, judgments, and easements associated with the property.
5. Reading and Verification: Sorting the Documents
Create a comprehensive pile of documents representing the property’s history. Read through each document to identify which ones are still active. Some may have been paid off or superseded, and meticulous verification is essential to ensure accuracy.
6. Cross-Referencing and Elimination
Cross-reference the documents to match liens with their corresponding mortgages and releases. Eliminate the documents with releases, as they are no longer active. The remaining pile represents the active components of the property title.
7. Check Alternate Spellings and Tax Assessments
Consider alternate spellings of names to avoid missing any relevant documents. Check tax assessments separately to ensure taxes are up to date, as delinquencies may not be reflected in the property timeline.
8. Additional Checks: Civil Court, Mechanics Liens, and Zoning
Visit the civil court records to identify any additional claims against the property. Be vigilant for mechanics liens, which may not be recorded in land records but can impact the property. Finally, double-check the property’s zoning to ensure it aligns with your intended use.
A Comprehensive Approach
A real estate title search demands a thorough and comprehensive approach. By understanding the basics and following these steps diligently, you can navigate the complexities of property titles with confidence.
Connect with TitleSearch.com for Expert Assistance
If you have further questions or need professional assistance with a title search, reach out to us at TitleSearch.com. With expertise in title searches across every county in the country, we can guide you based on the specific needs of your search. Thanks for joining us, and we look forward to assisting you in your real estate endeavors!