A title search is a method of determining whether the seller of a property has interest in the property, what restrictions are attached to the use of the property, and whether there are liens to be paid off relating to mortgages or other assessments.
Title search may be performed by anyone because documents concerning titles, name of owners, and taxes and mortgages are considered a public record. Any interested person may access public records. To do a title search the following steps may be followed:
- Start an exhaustive research by finding a marketable title. This means finding out if the title of the target property shows any easement or recorded legal rights such as power lines, communication lines, water pipes, etc. Your purpose is to find that the property has no liens or missing links in the chain of titles.
- Prove the missing links in the sequence of titles. Investigate possibilities that when the original owner of the property passed away the heirs paid all the taxes until the time when they eventually wanted to sell the property.
- Look for clues as to who will receive the property. If there is no will, all sorts of speculations may arise. It could have been desired by the deceased that the property be donated to his church; or it could have also been mentioned to a friend that a portion of the property would go to a distant relative other than the immediate heirs. A probate procedure will clear the title.
- If you purchase the property through a Tax Lien Sale or at a Tax Deed Sale, your transaction is over.
- If you find indications or clues prior to the sale showing that the property has not been donated or given away to any heir, invest in a probate procedure to get the actual property.
- Probate issues are easy to fix. Execute a title jointly with the heir or survivor claiming the property. This is called "joint tenants with right of survivorship". This means that the deed of sale will bear two names. If one of the names passes away, the property would be automatically owned 100 percent by the surviving name. The name of the deceased would be taken off from the deed of sale with a death certificate to prove his death. Without a death certificate, the name of the deceased cannot be taken off from the deed, and if the surviving party proposes to sell the property, the sale could not be executed until the death of the spouse of the deceased party.
- If there is a sign that the property will go to Tax Lien foreclosure or Tax Deed Sale, focus on having the property titled in your name after payments have been completed.
Completing a title search is an exhaustive job. One has to be familiar with the government offices as well as the divisions handling the different papers involved in sale and titling. However, when you know all the procedures and means of combating any problem that may arise, investing in real estate properties gives one wealth that increases forever. You only need to be sure that the title is properly executed without any liens or encumbrances.