In order to assess whether title to a particular parcel of property is insurable, a title company usually performs a title search. A title search is the process of retrieving and reviewing documents evidencing events in the history of a particular piece of property. Generally, the title companies obtain those documents from the following places:
County Recorder: The county recorder is the custodian of public records in its county (such as deeds, mortgages and plat maps, among other documents). These records can be examined to determine ownership and any liens that may encumber the property.
Title Plant: A privately owned collection of information about the ownership and lien history of a parcel of property; information is usually filed according to geographical location (legal description) instead of by owners' names. A title plant gathers information from the county recorder's office and systematically catalogues that information into a data base.
Tax Assessor: The Tax Assessor works for the city or county, aiding the process of collecting real estate taxes. The county assessor's records are reviewed to determine if the real estate taxes and any other assessments are paid to date.
Court Records: State and/or federal court systems may also be reviewed if it comes to the title company's attention there is a pending court action against the property or the principals such as litigation, divorces and probate proceedings that may affect the property or the principals in the transaction.
But who does all this research? Next month's issue will discuss the person(s) behind the product.