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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a title search or title abstract report?
The term “title search” is used to describe (a) the process of performing the search, and (b) the corresponding report generated. It is sometimes referred to as a "title abstract" or "abstract report". A professional title abstractor researches each recorded document, and then prepares on official title abstract report – a recital of the open documents which appear to be recorded for the subject property. It is not available from the county records office, nor is it available electronically.
Property records are typically saved in the public county records office as individual documents, such as deeds, mortgages, and liens. Each document represents an event that occurred in history on the property, and is recorded chronologically in a “book and page” associated with the date of the recording. A residential property may have dozens of recordings spread over several years in numerous books; a commercial property may have hundreds of such documents.
A title search does not offer a title opinion, or form a legal conclusion about the title status. A legal opinion can only come from a qualified attorney.
When obtaining property records information, be sure to determine if you will be receiving just raw property records, or a professional title abstract report.
Do you work with corporate accounts?
Yes! We provide research services in every state, from local homeowners to some of the nation’s largest organizations. Some of our customers include real estate professionals, lenders & investors, mortgage & insurance companies, environmental companies, attorneys, government agencies, and of course individual home buyers/sellers. Ask about setting up your corporate account and special pricing at (877) 848-5337 x 102
Can I do a title search myself?
Absolutely. In most counties and cities, records are public, meaning anyone can visit the office and retrieve the data or documents needed to create a title search. In most cases, the only costs are copying fees, usually about a dollar per page for copies. Keep in mind, however, that ascertaining the correct documents can be difficult and time-consuming. Documents and liens are often cross-referenced differently in different counties: sometimes they are filed by owner’s name, sometimes by address, and in other cases APN is used. Using a professional title search firm like TitleSearch.com ensures that an experienced abstractor is collecting all relevant documents and performing the search accurately and efficiently.
Watch this video to learn more.
What is the difference between a property report and a title search?
You may see that property reports are available online, sometimes for as little as $10. This report is usually a copy of the tax records, showing the name of the assessed owner, and possibly with some neighborhood information. This is NOT the same as a title search, as it does not search for liens, or ownership transfers.
Is the property owner notified of a search?
No, our search does not involve visiting the property, or notifying the owner or occupants. County records offices do not normally make notice of searches either.
How far back does a title search go?
Our certified title abstractors can research as far back into the land records as you need. Our Platinum and Expanded searches go back to when the current owner got the property (i.e. from the current deed forward). We can also research specific timeframes, if you need to go back 10, 30, 50, or even 100 years, upon request. If you require additional research, contact us so we can understand your specific requirements.
Can I do a title search even if I don't have an address; only an APN or parcel #?
Yes, the APN or parcel number is sufficient to begin researching real estate records and create an official title abstract.
What is an encumbrance?
An encumbrance is a general term for a claim or lien on a property. These may include mortgages, deeds of trust, judgments, unpaid property taxes, tax liens, mechanic's liens, easements, and water or mineral rights.
What is a deed?
A deed is an official document showing the change of ownership, listing the Grantor and Grantee of property rights.
What is a quitclaim deed?
A quitclaim deed is a type of deed where the seller transfers any rights they may have to the property, but makes no guarantee to the status of the property, nor guarantees that they own the property. Quitclaim deeds (sometimes accidentally called “quick claim” deeds) are often used at foreclosure auctions or tax deed sales. Our videos page has some additional information about quitclaim deeds.
What is a general warranty deed?
A general warranty deed is a type of deed where the seller guarantees that he/she has clear title to the property and is free to sell the property.
What is a mortgage?
A mortgage is a method of using real property as collateral for a loan between a lender and a homeowner. A voluntary lien is recorded in the land records, often referred to as a deed of trust.
What is the difference between a first and second mortgage?
The recorded date of the mortgage is the determining factor between a 1st and 2nd mortgage within the official land records.
What is a mortgage assignment?
An assignment is the recorded document showing the transfer of a mortgage from one lender to another.
Do you search for liens?
Yes, this is one of the most integral aspects of a title search. In searching for the property, all open liens recorded against the current owner of the property are listed. This includes both voluntary mortgage liens, and all involuntary liens such as tax liens, contractor liens, etc.
What are involuntary liens?
Real estate liens fall into two categories: voluntary and involuntary.
A voluntary lien is simply another name for a mortgage. This lien is placed “voluntarily” by the property owner, as security to get a mortgage.
Involuntary liens are typically those associated with searching for property liens. Tax liens, mechanics liens, and judgment liens, amongst others, are liens placed on a property against the will of the property owner, or “involuntarily”. These are an important type of lien to search When ordering a title search, be sure to check which type of liens are being searched.
Who may have placed a lien on a property?
Some examples include:
Government (City,County, State, Federal)
Personal credit issuers
What taxes are shown on the report?
Current and delinquent property taxes are provided on the title search report. Recorded tax liens on the subject property are shown which may be from city, county, state or federal agencies.
What about foreclosure properties going to auction?
TitleSearch.com has extensive experience working with foreclosed, REO, and auction properties. These searches look closely at mortgages, assignments and modifications, liens, taxes, and foreclosure documents. If you are experiencing a foreclosure on your home, or are interested in researching a property going to auction, please call us at (877) 848-5337 to discuss the details of your situation and any approaching deadlines. We will do everything possible to get your information within your timeframe. Our videos page has additional information on auction and foreclosure properties.
What about commercial properties?
TitleSearch.com has professional abstractors who are specially trained to research commercial properties. Typically, commercial properties are more complex and have more recordings, so a little longer turnaround time may be necessary. Please call (877) 848-5337 for commercial pricing.
How long will it take to get my title search results back?
Both the Economy and Expanded residential current owner title searches typically take 3 business days. Basic ownership searches are typically returned same day/next day. Extensive research spanning over 10 years, such as a chain-of-title search, or remote locations may require additional time to fully review the filings. Many of our search teams around the country are set up on a PDA system, allowing for instant delivery as it comes into our website. If you have a tricky property situation, or your research is time sensitive and have a hard deadline, feel free to contact us toll free at (877) 848-5337 to expedite your order. We will make every effort to ensure your deadline is met.
How are my results sent to me?
Results of title searches are sent via email in PDF format. The abstract report, documents and images can be viewed on screen, downloaded to a computer, printed, or forwarded as needed. Hard copies are available to be sent by either USPS or Fedex upon request (Processing, Copy & Shipping fees apply) please contact your sales team at (877) 848-5337 for more details.
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