A title search is a very thorough investigation into the ownership history of a given property. It is a process performed to examine the chain of ownership and proper transfer of title from one party to the next and the current homeowner’s legal rights to sell the property. A title search investigates for title defects or circumstances that may prevent the legal transfer from the seller to the buyer.
Integral to a real estate transaction (in most cases), a title search is an important part of the closing process and can help protect the buyer when purchasing a new home. We have put together some of the most frequently asked questions about the title search process to help further explain the relevance of this essential step.
Who conducts a title search?
A property title search is generally performed by a title agent or representative of the company or attorney conducting the real estate closing. These professionals are trained to identify title defects and access the appropriate resources to research the chain of ownership surrounding a real estate property.
When does a title search take place?
Title searches are typically performed shortly after the real estate contract is ratified. In most instances, a title search must be completed before the lender will approve the home loan. Along with protecting the buyer, this process helps safeguard the lender’s interest against risks associated with title defects.
What does a title search include?
A property title search includes an examination of public records, screening for information on deeds and any judgments, liens, boundary disputes, improperly probated wills, bankruptcy, and more. Title agents also review the mortgage history, tax payments, and other legalities surrounding the property. Any encumbrances identified during a title search are classified as title defects.
How long does a title search take?
On average, a thorough title search takes about five days to complete. This timeframe, however, may be impacted by the age of the home. Titles for older homes may take longer to investigate since they are more likely to have had multiple owners while those for newer properties may not require as much time to research.
What happens when title defects are found?
Title defects must be resolved before the home closing can occur. Some title defects can simply be resolved by submitting the correct or updated information to the public records office or appropriate entity. Other defects may be more complex and entail resolution in a court of law.
A title search confirms a seller’s legal right to sell a property free and clear and is a crucial step in a home closing. To learn more about title searches or the closing process in general, please contact Linear Title & Escrow in Virginia Beach, VA.