1. What is a title?
A title is the foundation of property ownership. It is the owner’s right to possess and use the property.
2. What is title insurance and why do I need it?
Title Insurance affords protection from past events which may or may not be a part of the public records, but that can adversely effect a new owner’s interest in the property being sold to them.
Title Insurance protects against matters of public record, plus hidden title defects, such as fraud, forgery, incompetence or missing heirs, that even the most diligent title search may not discover.
3. Why is transferring a title in real estate different from transferring the title to other items, such as a car?
Land is permanent and can have many owners over the years, various rights in land may have been acquired by others (such as mineral, air, or utility rights) by the time you come into possession of it, even if the land has never before been built upon. So, in order to transfer a clear title to a piece of land, it is first necessary to determine whether any rights are outstanding.
4. What is a title search?
A title search is a detailed examination of the historical records concerning a property. These records include deeds, court records, property and name indexes, and many other documents. The purpose of the search is to verify the seller’s right to transfer ownership, and to discover any claims, defects and other rights or burdens on the property.
5. What kind of problems can a title search reveal?
A title search can show a number of title defects and liens, as well as other encumbrances and restrictions. Among these are unpaid taxes, unsatisfied mortgages, judgments against the seller and restrictions limiting the use of the land.
6. Are there any problems that a title search cannot reveal?
Yes. There are some “hidden hazards” that even the most diligent title search may never reveal. For example, the previous owner could have incorrectly stated his marital status, resulting in a possible claim by his legal spouse. Other “hidden hazards’ include fraud and forgery, defective deeds, mental incompetence, confusion due to similar or identical names and clerical errors in the records. These defects can arise after you’ve purchased your home and can jeopardize your right to ownership.