Title Search Law and Legal Definition

A title search is a records search performed in connection with real property to uncover information such as:

  • Current owner: Identification of the actual owner/seller of the property you are interested in. List of other local addresses included.
  • Purchase price / date: Determine how much the current owners originally paid, and how long they have owned the property.
  • Mortgage amount: How much did the current owners borrow to buy the house? Has it been refinanced recently? What bank(s) hold the loans? Prior mortgages and document numbers are listed as well.
  • Liens / Judgements / Lawsuits: Does the seller have current or prior financial problems? This can help you in negotiating a better price.
  • Copy of current deed showing property conveyance, along with copies of all current liens, mortgages, and recorded documents.
  • Comparable sales: Records of sales of similar properties in the area, to help determine market conditions.
  • Hazardous waste and contaminated sites nearby.

Listing of locations where contaminants are present in the area.

The search is usually conducted through records maintained by a local office repsonsible for maintaining real property records, such as the County Recorder's Office. A title search is commonly conducted prior to the sale of real property to assure that the purchaser takes clear title and the property is not subject to other claims or liens. If the property is sold under a warranty deed, the buyer can pursue a remedy againt the seller for any defects of title. However, a quitclaim deed relieves the seller from liability for defects in title.