October 03, 2018
How Does a Title Search Ensure Clear Title?
I understand why clients ask me, “So what do you do, exactly?”
I work in a very specific area of property, which goes way beyond the old “finders keepers” rhyme.
There are a number of processes we perform here at Topouzis & Associates, P.C., but one of the main ones is we conduct title searches.
What’s a Title Search?
I’ve gone deep into what title is elsewhere in this blog, but, put briefly, title is the proof of ownership over some piece of real property. It’s how you prove this is your house, your land, and that you have the right to sell it if you choose to. The buyer wants that proof to be solid, because once it’s their land, then they need to be able to supply that proof, too.
When I conduct a full title search, I dig into everything that is available in the recorded public records of, say, Bristol, Rhode Island; Amherst, Massachusetts; or Key Largo, Florida about a piece of property. That includes recorded instruments, deeds, mortgages, liens, court cases and tax records going back at least 50 years. What we’re looking for is a definite “chain” of ownership going back in time, where each of the property’s previous owners are “links” in that chain. Then we look at everything that happened with the property during each of those prior owners’ periods of ownership.
Sometimes we can just look back as far as a previous title insurance policy’s date. This is called “tacking,” a “start” or a “base of title,” because it is an accepted starting point from a title insurance industry standpoint which relies upon the previous title search for its veracity (which is to say, it “tacks on” to it). This sort of search is less involved, takes less time—but, at least for my part, it’s a bit less secure, too.
So What’s so “Clear” About It?
The “clear title” supplied by the title search is the closest thing to a guarantee that no problems have been found with a seller’s right to sell the property, which means the buyer can buy it with a relative lack of worry—though it’s always also a good idea to get an Owner’s Policy of title insurance as a “just in case” measure.
We here at Topouzis & Associates, P.C. are experienced at title searches, and we are supported in supplying title insurance by numerous underwriters. Contact us if you’re looking to buy a new property, whether to live in or to invest in, and we’ll put our vast experience to work for you, ensuring you clear sailing through the closing process and beyond.