Learning what a title search is and how they work can save you significant time and stress when purchasing a property.
- A title search is a necessary process before purchasing a home
- This search reveals the home’s valid owner and uncovers any debts or liens against the property
- Handling this research yourself can be confusing and time-consuming
- A real estate attorney can prepare your title search quickly and efficiently
As you begin the home-buying process in Florida, you’ll encounter numerous terms and documents that may confuse you. For instance, a title search is an essential process you’ll have to complete before your mortgage lender even considers approval.
In short, a title search looks at public records to reveal who owns or has any interest in a piece of real estate. This information includes any current mortgages or liens against the property.
Completing a title search also ensures the seller has the right to actually sell the property, so you don’t have to worry about a third party showing up after finalizing the deal.
The process is relatively straightforward, but you should understand as much as possible about it before you begin.
Here’s a title search Q&A that offers insight into how this process and its related documents can help as you purchase a home or other piece of real estate.
Why is a title search necessary?
Completing a title search before buying a property is essential for several reasons.
First, a title search shows who owns the property you’re looking to buy. There are situations where the true owner isn’t even aware the property is for sale, and the deal could be voided later as a result.
Next, a title search informs you of any claims, liens, or debt against the property. As the buyer, you could inherit this debt once the sale finalizes, leaving you in a challenging financial situation. Obligations could include outstanding property taxes, unpaid HOA or condo association fees, and money owed to home improvement contractors, all of which follow the property rather than the owner.
Under some circumstances, you could lose your new home if the title reveals the owner wasn’t involved in the sale.
Because of these risks, your mortgage lender will likely require a title search before financing the deal.
How do you complete a title search?
You can conduct a title search independently, but because it requires a great deal of work, that approach isn’t recommended.
First, you’ll have to locate the property’s tax records to ensure they’re up to date. Next, you’ll check the chain of title, which could involve going back up to 70 years to verify sequential ownership of the property.
After that, you’ll need to locate the abstract of title, which includes information on tax liens, foreclosures, inheritances, encroachments, unpaid taxes, easements, and any other relevant information in the property’s history.
Finally, you’ll have to record your research in a document detailing everything you’ve learned throughout the process.
Using a real estate attorney, particularly one that specializes in preparing title search documents, is your best bet in this situation because of the time and work it will save you. It will also provide peace of mind that the report is accurate and won’t cause you legal problems in the future.
How long does a title search take?
The timeline for a title search depends on various factors, including the complexity of the search and the age of the property. The speed at which the title search company or attorney can obtain the relevant documents also influences the situation.
Once the title company or attorney has all the documents in hand, the actual search should only take a few hours to a couple of days. Generally, a reputable real estate attorney will complete the job within five business days of receiving your request and the necessary documentation.
What can you do with your title search results?
Your title search should be one of the first steps you take when exploring the purchase of any property. Once you receive the title search documents, you can decide whether to proceed based on what those documents uncover.
In situations where there are debts or liens against the property, you can use your title search results to negotiate the deal. For instance, you can stipulate that the seller clear these financial burdens before proceeding, or you can adjust your offer accordingly. You might also choose to walk away from the deal.
When the title search uncovers additional parties who have a stake in the property, the deal for purchase is generally dissolved unless you can get the other parties on board with the sale.
Either way, completing a title search provides more clarity before purchasing a home and allows you to make adjustments based on your findings.
How much does a title search cost?
The cost of a title search generally depends on how long it takes to gather the information and create a report. However, some real estate attorneys charge a flat rate, which is usually your best bet.
The going rate for a basic title search in Florida is about $250. However, you might also invest in buyer representation services or an opinion of title document that will add to this expense. These services might be worth it, though, because they’ll walk you through the buying process and ensure you have all the necessary information.
Getting your Florida title search
A title search is essential to buying a property in Florida. It ensures the sale is legal and that you won’t incur additional expenses after becoming the owner. However, the process is a bit confusing, especially if you opt to complete the report yourself without any assistance.
PeytonBolin is a Florida-based real estate attorney that provides buyer representation services, including completing a title search and preparing the relevant documentation. We can put your mind at ease by handling the most confusing aspects of your home purchase, leaving you to finalize your deal and plan your move.
Contact PeytonBolin today for more information on your Florida title search or to seek this service directly through our experienced attorneys.