What is a title search, and do you have to do one when buying a property? Here's why you should always work with a real estate attorney.
- A title search tells you details about property ownership and its history, whether there are any claims or liens on the property, mortgage information, and more
- An attorney or title company can help you with a title search, so you don't have to worry about sifting through the complex records yourself
- Watch out for title red flags like a lawsuit or lien against the property
As a property buyer, real estate transactions can be full of emotion with lots of waiting, uncertainty, and stress. Not only do you have to deal with viewing properties, making an offer, and finally signing a contract, you also have to jump through a few legal hoops to become the property's new owner.
Part of this process is conducting a title search, which tells you valuable information about the property's ownership and legal history. But do you have to do a title search yourself? How does it work?
Here's your guide to conducting title searches in Florida and getting the help you need through it all.
What is a title search?
In real estate transactions, a title search is an important step when buyers need to know the current situation with property ownership, liens, and the like. A title search shows you information about the property that you don't otherwise have access to and helps you decide whether to move forward with the purchase.
In Florida, a title search gives you lots of details about the real estate you're purchasing, including:
- Outstanding liens
- Current property ownership
- Ownership history
- Chain of title
- Legal property description
- Mortgage details, assignments, and modifications
- Other liens and encumbrances
- Restrictions or easements
- Property tax details
The title search is essentially a deep dive into the property's records and history to confirm legal ownership and find out if any liens or claims exist. The title needs to be clean and straightforward for an optimal real estate transaction.
Who conducts title searches?
The buyer generally initiates a title search, and they're usually conducted by the buyer's attorney or a title company. Sometimes the mortgage lender will do the search to verify property ownership or view claims before approving a loan.
Technically the property buyer can conduct a title search, but this is usually not recommended since there are so many complex legal documents and records to sift through. And, a complete title search goes beyond the normal process for searching public records. Getting help from an attorney is a wise choice so you always know what you're dealing with as far as the title goes.
When you use a title company or attorney for your title search, they can provide guidance on how best to proceed based on the records they find. Remember that the title company can't give you legal advice, just an attorney.
Other title search considerations
Even if you decide to hire someone to do the title search for you, you probably still have lots of questions about how it works. Let's walk through some additional notes about conducting title searches in Florida during real estate transactions:
- Cost: In Florida, the cost of a title search varies, but it is typically between $150 and $500.
- Time: It usually only takes a few days for the report to get back to you after making a title search request.
- Necessity: A title search is important for any real estate transaction you may be thinking of making. You need to make sure there are no claims or liens on the property before moving forward or the title company usually won't issue the title and the mortgage company may not approve the loan.
- Red flags: Items you don't want to see on a title search include outstanding lawsuits or liens on the property, flawed records, forgery or fraud on legal documents, ownership by a different party, or an unrecorded easement.
If there are significant issues found with the title, you may need to go back to the seller to discuss them, depending on their severity. You may also decide that the red flags are serious enough to back out of the property purchase.
PeytonBolin can help you with your title search
Conducting a title search is a normal part of a real estate transaction — every buyer needs to know they are not getting into a bad situation with a property. Just make sure you're working with an attorney who can walk you through these steps and explain the implications of the search results.
At PeytonBolin, our experienced attorneys offer title searches in Florida, so you can understand the property's history before making an offer. Our board-certified, results-driven attorneys break down the law for our clients, so you don't have to worry about complex legalese or regulations. In addition to title searches and real estate transactions, we help clients with litigation, condo and HOA law, landlord and tenant law, and other real estate issues you may be dealing with.
Contact PeytonBolin to learn more about our real estate attorneys and how they can help you.