A title search can mean different things to different people. One way to insure that the report you get as a “title search” answers all your questions and provides the necessary information you require is to get what is called a Certified Title Search. This means that the search is done to certain standards, that all the procedures are followed, and all of the places where potential clouds on the title might appear are checked when the title search is prepared.
Essentially, anybody can do a non-certified title search. If an individual goes to the land records office, visits all four or five of the offices, pulls all the necessary documents to review and reads through them to create a summarized report, you can call that a title search. Even if it is hand written on a piece of paper, you could name that a title search and some people might even be willing to pay for that and call it a title search. However, it would not be an official certified title search.
A certified title search is a research project performed by a NALTEA (National Association of Land Title Examiners & Abstractors) certified title abstractor or title examiner. These certified examiners and abstractors will do all the necessary research according to certain industry standards. To be a NALTEA member an individual must pass a rigorous exam, demonstrate that they have experience in the industry, and continue their education every year by showing that they have attended training or other industry events to show that their knowledge is improving. These certified examiners are qualified and trained to know what to look for, to make sure all liens and encumbrances on a property are found and that all sources are checked. The format of a certified report also meets certain obligations that will hold up in a court of law, if need be.