A title search may seem like an antiquated part of the home purchasing process. Afterall, in a world with Zillow and the ability to buy and research a home without even seeing it, why would we need to dig through all this old paperwork? What’s the point?
What exactly is a title search?
It helps to have a good understanding of what a title search is in order to understand its importance. A title search is a review of public records tied to the property’s ownership. This examination should result in the finding of any potential liens or claims that are on the property.
A lien is another individual or business’ claim on the property. Another party would put a lien on the property when previous owners fail to pay a bill. Common examples include a homeowner failing to pay taxes to state or federal taxing authorities or hiring contractors to complete remodel work and failing to settle the bill when the work is done.
What are some common title disputes?
A title search could result in the finding of a building code violation, bad survey, or lien, as noted above. Other common issues can include a messy divorce of the previous owners, a dispute over the property line, or a typo in the property records.
An easement can also pose a problem. This is a legal term that essentially means one property owners right to use another’s property. This can come up with a driveway that goes through one property to reach your home.
How do I reduce the risk of a title problem?
Although you cannot avoid a title problem, you can reduce the risk of it directly impact you as the buyer. A thorough title search to unearth any problems gives you the power to negotiate with the seller to resolve the issue before you buy the property.