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Why Conducting a Property Title Search is Essential

CEO Khai Intela
Introduction: Are you considering buying or selling real property? Before you proceed, it's crucial to conduct a property title search. This simple step can save you from potential issues that could hinder the smooth transfer...

Why You Need to Conduct a Property Title Search


Are you considering buying or selling real property? Before you proceed, it's crucial to conduct a property title search. This simple step can save you from potential issues that could hinder the smooth transfer of the deed. Hidden debts, outstanding liens, or even the lack of legal rights to sell are just a few problems that can arise. In this article, we will explore the importance of conducting a property title search and the potential problems it can uncover.

Overview of Property Title Searches

Conducting a property title search involves a meticulous examination of various documents, such as deeds, contracts, and recorded papers. The goal is to determine if the property owner possesses a clear title, meaning it is free from any defects like outstanding liens or zoning violations. As a buyer, it is essential to ensure that you acquire a marketable or clear title to avoid any potential legal issues in the future.

While hiring attorneys or specialized companies to conduct a title search is an option, you can also perform the search yourself. Some cities provide websites that assist prospective buyers in conducting certain parts of the search. However, it's important to note that taking the cheaper route may lead to costly consequences if you overlook a legal snag. Defects in title can prevent the sale of the property and even prevent you from purchasing your dream home.

What a Title Search Can Uncover

A title search can reveal various problems that can render a property unmarketable. Here are some common issues that a thorough title search can uncover:

  • Break in the chain of title: This occurs when an individual who did not own the property conveyed it, creating complications for the current owner's clear title.
  • Tax, mechanic's, or creditor's liens: These are claims against the property due to unpaid taxes or debts, potentially obstructing the transfer of ownership.
  • Easements: These are limitations or rights of use that affect the property's intended use.
  • Bankruptcy of the current owner: An owner's bankruptcy can cloud the ownership status of the property.
  • Occupancy issues and probate: If the property is occupied by someone other than the owner, the death of the actual owner could give rise to ownership disputes during probate.
  • Zoning ordinances: Local zoning regulations may restrict the desired use of the property, such as operating a home business.
  • Multiple mortgages: The existence of multiple mortgages can complicate the sale, requiring all mortgages to be paid before the property can be sold.
  • Judgments against the owner: Legal judgments against the owner can result in additional liens on the property.
  • Claims by neighbors: Neighbors may claim ownership of a portion of the land, often based on property survey disputes.
  • Foreclosure: A property under foreclosure can complicate the sale process.
  • Permits and restrictions: Local permits, such as those granting utility companies access to the property, can create title complications.
  • Divorce proceedings: Pending divorces can lead to complications in transferring property ownership.
  • Building code violations: Violations of building codes can create issues during the title transfer process.

If you encounter any encumbrances or have questions related to the property, consult with a real estate attorney to understand the potential consequences and seek guidance for a smooth transfer of the deed.

The Title Search Process

Performing a title search requires reviewing public documents in various offices such as the county clerk's office, registry of deeds, recorder's office, or local courthouse. Most searches are incomplete unless you visit multiple locations to check for deeds, liens, judgments, and other encumbrances.

Each state and county has its own unique way of filing land records, making it challenging to know where and how to search. Databases or land record books may hold the information you need. Some offices categorize documents by number system, property location, or the owner's name.

To conduct a title search for a property, you'll need specific details, including the location, block, property lot, and the owner's name. This information helps you search for multiple deeds to ensure a smooth chain of ownership. It's important to look for any unexpected names on the documents and ensure a continuous history of property ownership. However, keep in mind that this manual search can be lengthy and tedious. That's why most home buyers opt to hire a title company to handle the process efficiently.


Conducting a property title search is an essential step in the buying or selling process. It unravels potential problems that could hinder the transfer of ownership or lead to legal complications. By investing time and effort into a thorough title search or seeking assistance from professionals, you can protect yourself from future headaches and ensure a smooth transaction. Remember, a clear title is the key to peace of mind in real estate transactions.