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Title Search


A title search is a thorough examination of property records to ensure that the person or company claiming to own the property does, in fact, legally own it and that there are no outstanding claims or liens against it. This process is crucial in real estate transactions to confirm rightful ownership and the absence of unpaid taxes or other dues. The search might include records held by the court, tax departments, or other local or state agencies.


The phonetic transcription of “Title Search” in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is: /ˈtaɪtl̩ sɝtʃ/.

Key Takeaways

  1. A title search is a detailed examination of historical public records associated with the ownership of a property. This includes deeds, court records, name and tax indexes, and mortgage documents.

  2. The purpose of a title search is to ensure that the seller has the right to sell the property, to discover any outstanding liens or disputes on the property, and to ensure that the buyer is acquiring a clear title.

  3. A title search is an essential part of the home-buying process and is typically required by mortgage lenders to avoid legal issues in the future.


A title search is a significant process in the business/finance realm, particularly in real estate transactions. It involves examining public records, deeds, and court documents to verify the legal ownership of a property and to uncover any claims, liens, outstanding mortgages, or other legal issues that may affect the title. This is crucial before the completion of a property sale to ensure that the seller has a clear and legitimate title to sell, preventing potential legal disputes or financial losses for the buyer in the future. Additionally, a clean title search result is often required by mortgage lenders as part of the risk assessment. Therefore, a title search is vital for maintaining the integrity and security of real estate transactions.


Title searches are conducted primarily to make sure the seller of a property has the legal right to sell it, and the buyer is getting a clean title. This process is essential to ensure there are no unresolved legal issues pertaining to the property and no other party has any undisclosed interests in the property. In essence, it is a risk reduction tool, securing the interests of all the transaction parties, particularly the potential buyer and the mortgage lender, if any.Not only does a title search serve to confirm ownership, but it can also uncover any restrictions, allowances, loans, or liens that may be outstanding against the property. It helps uncover any factors that could interfere with the usage or future sale of the property. For instance, a mortgage loan that hasn’t been fully paid off or a lien for unpaid taxes could potentially derail a property transaction. Therefore, undertaking a title search is a crucial step to avoid encountering unplanned financial or legal obstacles post-purchase, making it a significant component of due diligence in real estate transactions.


1. Real Estate Purchase: When a family decides to buy a new house, a title search is a crucial step. This search will ensure the seller has the legal right to sell the property, without any encumbrances such as liens, judgments, or any other potential issues that can affect the ownership transfer. 2. Mortgage Application: A bank or a mortgage lender always performs a title search before approving a mortgage application. This is done to make sure that the property is free from any liens and that the borrower actually owns the property they are applying a mortgage for. If there’s an issue, for example, a previous owner’s heir pops up claiming ownership, it could lead to legal complications. 3. Business Acquisition: If a company decides to buy another business, a title search will be performed on all commercial property owned by the company being acquired. It ensures that the company has clear ownership of the property and there are no outstanding obligations that could undermine the value of the acquisition.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Title Search?

A title search is an examination of public records to confirm a property’s legal ownership, and discover what claims, liens or judgments may be outstanding on the property.

Why is a Title Search important?

It is important because it can reveal if there are any legal claims on the property, such as liens, that could affect your ability to sell the property or obtain a mortgage on it in the future. It ensures you have clear ownership.

Who performs a Title Search?

Generally, a title company or an attorney often conducts the title search as part of a real estate transaction in order to verify that the seller has the right to transfer ownership.

How long does a Title Search take?

The length of a title search may vary, but on average it can take anywhere from a few days to two weeks. This can depend on the property’s history and the efficiency of your county records office.

What documents are required for a Title Search?

A title searcher does not require documents from you. They will look at public and legal records such as deeds, county land records, divorce cases, bankruptcy records, etc.

How does a Title Search protect the buyer?

A title search protects the buyer by ensuring that the seller has the legal right to sell the property, and that there are no outstanding claims, liens or judgments against the property.

What happens after a Title Search is completed?

After a title search, the title company or attorney will produce a title report. If there are any issues with the title, these will have to be resolved before the real estate transaction can move forward.

Can the buyer perform their own Title Search?

While it is legally possible for a buyer to conduct their own title search, it is generally recommended to use a professional service due to the complex nature of the job, and the risk of overlooking important problem areas.

Related Finance Terms

  • Deed: This is a document that provides proof of ownership for a property.
  • Lien: This refers to a legal claim or hold on a property as security for a debt that needs to be repaid.
  • Encumbrances: These are legal issues or claims that can limit the rights of a property owner, such as liens, restrictions, easements, etc.
  • Public Records: Legal documents and records that are publicly available, often used in title searches to review the history of a property.
  • Chain of Title: This term refers to the history of the property’s ownership dating back to its first owner.

Sources for More Information

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