What is a Title Search and How Does It Work?

Purchasing a house is a big step in a person’s life. It can be overwhelming the number of things that have to be done in a short amount of time. One of the most important steps in your home-buying process is the completion of a title search. In this article, TitleQuest – a title company with offices in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Suffolk will explain what a title search is and how it works.

What is a Title Search?

When someone is selling their house, they are typically assumed to be the person entitled to sell the home. However, sometimes that is not the case and problems can arise. A title search is performed in order to determine the rightful owner of the property you are interested in purchasing.

If the seller is the rightful owner, then the sale can go through with no problem. If the seller is not the rightful owner, or if there are any liens or claims against the property, then the sale can become more complicated.

Clean vs Dirty Title Search

Once a title search is complete, the search can come back “clean” or “dirty”. A clean title search is when there is only one owner of the property. This means no other person can make a legal claim to own it. A “dirty” title search is when a title search determines there are outstanding liens on the property against prior owners, or other people who can claim ownership in the property.

How does a title search work?

A title search is typically completed by a title company or sometimes by an attorney. They look through public records and sometimes other documentation on the property to determine the owner of the property. They also will be able to discover any recorded easements, restrictions, claims, liens, or judgments that encumber or affect the marketability of the property. All of this information is compiled into a title examination report and the findings are used to prepare a title insurance commitment for a buyer or the report itself will be provided to a client prior to completing the closing on the property. 

How does the title transfer?

Once the owner of the property is determined, the seller will sign a new general warranty deed. This is a legal document that grants and conveys ownership from the seller to the buyer. Once the seller and buyer have signed all their closing documents and the title company has received all funds necessary for closing, the deed is recorded at the local courthouse.  Once the documents have been recorded in the Clerk’s Office of the Circuit Court in the city/county where the property is located, the title is officially transferred to the buyer.

Title Insurance

Even highly experienced and thorough title search companies can miss things.  Document forgeries and fraud can often go undetected.  Courthouse staff recorders can also mis-index recorded documents making them sometimes impossible to find.  This is why title insurance is so important. Title insurance protects the buyer and their mortgage company from covered losses and financial implications that can arise after the purchase or the property.  This one-time purchase is meant to protect the buyer from past title issues with the property that they are not responsible for. This can include unrecorded or disclosed easements, outstanding lawsuits, outstanding liens, or other claims to the property.

Looking for a title company in Hampton Roads or Northeast North Carolina?

Title searches are one of the most crucial steps in your home buying process. You don’t want to end up with problems down the road from an improper title search or lack of title insurance. Thankfully, TitleQuest has been helping home buyers in the Virginia and North Carolina area for many years.

TitleQuest is composed of a team of dedicated individuals and affiliates. We perform title searches, offer title insurance, and provide excellent customer service. We know what a big step purchasing a home is, and we want to give you peace of mind. At the end of the day, we want to ensure your home is yours. Are you looking for a title company in Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Suffolk or anywhere in Virginia and North Carolina? Look no further than TitleQuest.