Common Questions About Property Title Searches

From the moment a homebuyer makes an offer on a new home, a title company, like Capitol Title, will tell you that conducting a proper title search should be one of the top priorities. Whether prospective homebuyers are new to the process or more seasoned, having professional assistance from a title search company or attorney will be a way to ensure the process moves forward with ease. Buying a new home isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. From the time the property is chosen, several steps must be taken before the keys can be handed off, including: 

  • Finding a real estate agent
  • Getting pre-approved for a loan
  • Choosing a home
  • Making an offer
  • Conducting a home inspection & appraisal
  • Working with a mortgage lender to select a loan
  • Conducting a property title search
  • + More

As a homebuyer, the process can feel complicated, especially without help from a professional. Running a title search on the prospective property is critical. Here are some common questions prospective buyers often have regarding the property title search process: 

Why is a property title search important?

A property title identifies the rightful owner of a property. It is essential when purchasing a home because, as a prospective buyer, you must confirm that the seller has a right to sell the home. At times, a property title search can shed light on possible issues which may impact the buyer’s ability to purchase the home. 

Is a property title search required before buying a property?

Yes, lenders will require this before writing the mortgage loan to assure there are no other claims on the property. 

What are common problems that can be identified from a title search?

Common problems that might arise from a property title search include:

  • Unpaid Property Taxes
  • Unpaid Home Improvement Bills
  • Liens
  • Breaks in the Chain of Title
  • Easements
  • Undiscovered Heirs

What are common issues with the chain of title?

A chain of title refers to the historical sequence of a property’s ownership. When a buyer purchases a property, the title is transferred to them. Documents within the title include transfer documents, mortgages and deeds, liens, easements, etc. A break in the chain of title happens when documents are either fraudulent or inaccurate. Some errors may be relatively straightforward to fix. However, they must be rectified before the property can transfer ownership.

Why should I hire a professional when I can conduct a title search on my own?

 Property owners are responsible for taking corrective action. Working with a real estate lawyer may be beneficial as they will assist as the process may involve legal proceedings.   

Do title search companies employ lawyers? Is legal counsel vital?

Yes, often, title search companies are either owned by lawyers or at the very least employ them. Often title agents do not have law degrees, making legal counsel imperative, especially when issues arise. Not only can a lawyer protect the buyer during the purchasing process, but they can also help by taking corrective action.  

Does the buyer have the ability to back out If the title search uncovers severe problems with the property? 

The seller can efficiently resolve some title issues. However, sometimes, a title search may reveal more serious problems. Depending upon the nature of the arrangement, it may be possible to back out of the purchase. 

Conducting a property title search is crucial for purchasing a home. It ensures that the transaction can occur smoothly and the new owner is rightfully purchasing the property as intended.