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2 Ways to Do a Title Search on a Florida Property

Posted by Jane F. Bolin, Esq. | Jan 25, 2023 | 0 Comments

You can complete the title search yourself – or you can hire a professional firm to handle the job for you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Performing a title search ensures the seller owns the property you're buying
  • It also looks for liens, easements, unsettled debts, and other potential issues
  • Failing to complete this due diligence could leave you in a difficult situation
  • You'll have two options for a title search in Florida

Buying real estate can be a confusing process because there are so many steps you need to complete before finalizing the deal. Due diligence is essential when purchasing a property in Florida, as overlooking any aspect could ultimately leave you in a difficult position and put your ownership in question.

Conducting a title search is a critical step when buying a home or commercial property. This search confirms that the seller legally owns the assets and checks for liens and unsettled debts, as well. A clear title ensures you own the property outright after finalizing the deal and that there isn't any debt attached to the home, so there won't be any surprises.

It's possible to complete the title search yourself if you're willing to put the work in, or you can hire a professional firm to handle it for you. Here's a look at two ways to do a title search on a Florida property.

What is a title?

A home's title specifies the legal owner of the property. It isn't a document but a concept that gives the holder certain rights to the building and land. 

The title holder retains control over the property and can do what they wish with it. The deed typically confirms the home's title, but additional digging into the information can help you avoid scams.

Problems with the title can create issues when transferring a property into your name. If it turns out the seller doesn't legally own the home, your ownership will therefore not be lawful after completing the purchase. This scenario could lead to legal problems you'll have to figure out in court or, in more extreme cases, could cause you to forfeit your right to the property. 

Completing a Florida title search is a vital step before finalizing any purchase. You'll check official home ownership records through this process, eliminating surprises that could arise later.

How to do a title search

The first way to conduct a title search is to handle the job yourself. It's a lot of work, but it's possible to complete it on your own – if you have the know-how and enough time on your hands.

The first step is to figure out the county in which the property sits. From there, you'll visit the county's Tax Collector website and begin gathering information. You can search for the address directly through the Tax Collector site, which will provide you with some valuable details.

Data you'll need to pull from the Tax Collector includes information on whether the taxes are up to date, if the property is a homestead, whether any special assessments are coming, the legal names of the owners, and a legal description of the property. 

From there, you can head to the county's Clerk of Court website to pull official and court records. There is a ton of information on this website providing additional knowledge on the home.

You'll begin by searching for the name of the owner and checking the deed. Finding the right property can take some time if the owner has multiple homes, and you'll need to write down the instrument number, page, and book once you locate the correct asset. 

Next, you'll need to look up some mortgage information. Find any mortgages applying to the property and write down data points like the instrument number, page, book, satisfaction of the mortgage, and all assignments. There could be multiple mortgages you'll need to note.

Information on liens, court filings, and judgments comes next. Liens could include IRS liens, code enforcement liens, and HOA liens, while judgments could consist of probate records, marriages, and divorces. 

You'll want to note if the judgments are paid off before you continue so that property ownership isn't in question. Liens, including unreported ones like unpaid water and sewer charges, could add considerable debt to your plate when you take control of the property, as well.

Digging into this data will take some time, and you'll want to go slowly to ensure you get everything. Of course, it's also possible to seek professional assistance to minimize your chances of making a mistake jeopardizing your Florida real estate purchase.

The benefits of hiring an attorney

Hiring a real estate attorney to assist with your Florida title search will make your life far more manageable. All you need to provide is a property address, and your title search expert will gather all the necessary information as you make this critical decision.

The attorney will provide a full title report that includes a search of all recorded documents from the county's public records. Having this documentation ensures you're protected if a potential issue arises later because you'll have all the paperwork you need to prove ownership.

Sellers can also invest in this service because it offers peace of mind for the buyer. You can prove there aren't any liens or judgments on the property when you list, making the entire selling process more straightforward.

Get the assistance you need

Buying a property is a significant investment in your future, and you don't want to enter any deal without proper due diligence. A title search is an essential part of the process because any issues that arise could put your ownership into question, creating expensive legal problems or potentially costing you the property.

PeytonBolin offers title searches on Florida real estate. All you have to provide our team with is an address, and we'll email all the information you need within days, saving you considerable time and ensuring the job is done correctly. Contact PeytonBolin for more details on how to do a title search on a Florida property or to learn about our title search services.

About the Author

Jane F. Bolin, Esq.

Founding Member, Managing Partner


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