If you're selling, buying, or transferring a piece of property, you're likely going to need title search services. Someone forking over money for real estate title search services deserves to know what a search can accomplish. Here are 5 things you should try to do with your search.
Properties are often used as leverage to back loans. There's nothing wrong with that, but the recipient of a piece of real estate needs to know that no one else has a claim to the property. If you knowingly assume ownership while a lien is outstanding, you're providing the collateral for someone else's loan.
Liens are also sometimes imposed by courts. In particular, property liens are used when people don't have the money to pay judgments from lawsuits. You definitely don't want to be on the wrong side of this sort of lien.
Sellers also should be worried about liens. Title fraud is becoming an increasingly common crime, and identifying an unexpected lien against your own property is a good way to catch it. You'll need to clear up such problems, if they've happened, in court before you can legally sell a property.
Verifying What Counts as Part of the Property
Over time, lots sometimes get subdivided or merged. The county register keeps a record of these changes, but real estate owners can get fuzzy about the details. A detailed title search will help you to confirm what belongs in a sale and what doesn't.
The record of a property is supposed to be an unbroken chain that stretches back to the political incorporation of the county. Unfortunately, folks get things wrong. You might end up with a title that has the wrong signatures or lot assignment, for example. It's best to clear these issues up as soon as they're found to prevent someone else, such as a distant heir of a previous owner, from claiming the title isn't valid.
Property owners oftentimes provide easements to folks around them. What might have seemed neighborly in the 1960s, for example, could be a major pain to sort out more than a half-century later. Easements aren't easy to roll back if the parties they were given to have continued to maintain them, and that could make it harder for you to enjoy your property. If you have to negotiate with the neighbors, you'd prefer to know this going in.