The term “title” in real estate represents the ownership rights attached to a property. It also entails the right to utilize or maintain an equitable interest in said property. When a real estate sale occurs, the title is transferred from the seller(s) to the buyer(s). For the legal transfer to be carried out, the title must be free and clear of any defects.
What is a title defect?
A title defect is any factor that prevents the proper transfer of property ownership from one party to the next. Title defects are generally identified through a title search. This investigative process takes place in the time between real estate contract ratification and the settlement (closing) of the loan. A title search seeks to identify any problems with the title as well as any other parties who may hold some ownership stake or legal rights to a property.
Who conducts a title search and how is it accomplished?
A title agent representing a title company or a real estate attorney are generally the professionals who carry out a title search. The person responsible for the title search will examine public records to screen for defects and review legal information pertaining to the property in question. This typically includes a search of municipal, county, or local tax collector records.
What does a title search look for?
A title search looks for any problem or issue (defect) that may prevent proper ownership transfer. Title defects can vary, but some of those most commonly discovered include:
-Liens or judgments
-Forgery or fraud
-Recording errors (in public records)
-Easements or usage covenants
-Improperly probated wills
What happens if title defects are found?
If a title defect is discovered, steps must be taken to resolve the issue in order for the real estate transaction and closing to proceed. In some instances, such as when recording errors are identified, resolving the defect is simply a matter of resubmitting the correct documentation to the appropriate office of public record. More complex types of title defects may require legal proceedings and may need to be resolved in a court of law.
A title search is integral to a real estate sale and a successful transaction. To learn more about the title search process or title defect resolution, please contact the experts at Linear Title & Escrow.