The name itself implies that a “title search” is a quick and easy online or automated search for a single document. But that’s not the case. It would be better to call it “title research”. Real estate documents are a collection of contracts (not just data) which can be complicated and confusing, and it takes a trained eye to make sense of it all. Here’s how it works:
- Inquiry: You ask for a title search, and provide some basic property information. That’s the easy part.
- Prepare the Investigation: The property is located and verified, confirming the parcel location and APN, converting the address into legal description, and identifying the correct jurisdiction of official property records and legal documents. An address (where the mail is delivered) doesn’t always match the legal description, so making sure the physical property matches the inquiry is imperative.
- Describe Ownership: After retrieving preliminary records, a title abstractor can identify all parties associated with the property, including current and prior owners, cross parties, countersigners, and vested co-owners. Because property documents are filed chronologically by owner name(s), the crux of the investigation lies in this identification.
- Source & Retrieve Documents: A certified title abstractor knows where to find what they are looking for, and sources documents from multiple locations – land records, tax assessors, court records, prothonotary, Secretary of State, MERS, EPA documents, the county planning department, the US Treasury Department, etc. It is also important to know that some records relevant to a title search are not in the land records. Official documents from those government records are indexed by name and retrieved in chronological order. Often, it may be necessary to make subsequent visits to the records office to obtain additional documents. This can be a time consuming endeavor and not for the faint-of-heart.
- Abstracting: The documents are read and analyzed to determine if they pertain to the subject property. Cross-referencing and compiling information leads to clues within the text of the document language, so the abstractor can understand how the documents relate to each other and discover the true story of the property.
- Creating the Report: A title report (or title abstract) is the official document of a “title search”, and is a private document not held in public records. It provides a clear snapshot of the property, as of that date, describing the liens, mortgages, encumbrances, property ownership, and results of those government records. Once that report is released, you will have a deeper understanding of the current status on that property.
To see a detailed look at the complete AFX Title Search Process, click here.
It is easy to see the amount of time, resources, and talent that goes into a current owner search and generating a usable and accurate title report. Sometimes people think it’s a simple Google search, but electronic data searches are often not accurate, current or reliable. Although technology can assist in accessing documents or index searching, it cannot replace the human aspect of comprehending and interpreting the language and relationships of those records. Every property has a unique story – it’s just a matter of finding it.
The certified abstractors and research team at AFX Title/Titlesearch.com take care of everything so you don’t have to. The easiest way to get a title search is to click here.