There are many title companies available to complete a title search for you. However, if you’re trying to reduce some of the costs associated with buying a property, you can complete a title search on your own and potentially save hundreds of dollars.
1. Identify the Property
Start by gathering as much information on the property as you can find. This information should include the home address, the county in which it is located and the current owner's name.
2. Look Up the County Office
It can take some time to browse various county offices for information on the home, but this is a necessary step. Look for information with the county clerk, the county record and the county tax assessor first. If you are unsure of how to find each county office, start by checking out your state government website. Once you’ve found that web page, you should be able to navigate to each county and find which local office has the property records on file.
3. Locate the Property in Public Records
Research the property information with the proper county office. This can be done online or in-person. However, most public records are available online digitally. Requesting public records online can save a great deal of time but remember that you will likely have to pay additional fees to request a copy.
4. Review the Property Details
When completing a title search, you’ll want to access the most recent deed for the property. The deed you’re looking for should include the current owner's name, as well as the person or entity that sold the property to them. You should search the document as far back as possible, looking for any transactions between buyers and sellers—which may take you back several decades. Take the time to make sure that each deed passed from each person correctly, to create a chain of title.
5. Look for Potential Issues
While reviewing the title, keep an eye out for possible issues like tax liens or gaps in ownership. If you notice something like a seller that wasn’t included as a buyer on a previous document, you may not be able to complete the purchase.
Remember that even though it can take some work, you should always be able to find the property in question. If the property doesn’t show up in your search, some of your information is incorrect or it’s not in the current recorder system.
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