One of the questions that we answer for our clients on a regular basis is why they need a title examination before a real estate closing. Some clients believe that if they are purchasing a property that has been owned by the same couple for a very long time that the title to the property should be fine. Other people assume that if a mortgage company was willing to lend money to the current owners, the title must be good. However, you should not base one of the largest investments of your lifetime on the assumption that someone you do not know did their job to ensure the current owner has fee simple title to the property.
Our Jacksonville real estate closing attorney reviews title searches to ensure that there are no title defects or problems that prevent you from receiving free and clear title to the real estate. Before you agree to purchase a piece of Florida real estate, call (904) 248-4482 to discuss the steps you need to take to protect your investment in real estate. The real estate attorneys of The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. offer free consultations, so you can learn more about how our firm can help you with all real property matters, including performing a title search.
What is a Title Search?
A title search is a thorough examination of the real estate records in the county where the property is located. Beginning with the current property owner, the chain of title (previous owners) is established by reviewing each of the deeds that transferred title to the property. The time period for a title search depends on the transactions involved. However, some title searches may cover the last 40 to 60 years or more.
Once a chain of title is established, the deeds are carefully reviewed to determine the type of ownership transferred by the deed (i.e. general warranty, fee simple, quit claim, life estate, etc.) and whether any of the deeds contain errors, mistakes, or defects. Each owner in the chain of title is searched to determine if the owner conveyed any interest in the property such as:
- Life estates
- Restrictive Covenants
- Equity credit lines
- A partial interest in the property
The records for personal judgments, tax liens, mechanic’s liens, liens for Homeowner’s Association Dues, and other encumbrances are also searched to determine if the property is subject to any liens or encumbrances that have not been canceled or satisfied. Also, the probate records are reviewed to ensure all probate estates involving this property have been closed properly, and all heirs conveyed their interest to the next owner.
Lastly, we also pull all surveys for the property during the chain of title to search for issues related to boundary or survey disputes and matters. It is crucial that the exact boundaries of the property are known and are not subject to dispute to avoid future problems with neighbors.
Why Should I Pay for a Title Search?
There are many reasons why you need to ensure a Jacksonville real estate attorney performs a thorough title search before you close on any piece of Florida real estate. Some of those reasons include:
- Identifying the legal owner or owners of the property to ensure full ownership interest is conveyed to the buyer;
- Establish the liens and encumbrances secured by the property, including mortgages, tax liens, personal judgments, HOA dues, etc. The seller should pay all liens and encumbrances before transferring title or secure releases from the liens for this specific property;
- Identify whether the property is subject to Restrictive Covenants and a Homeowner’s Association;
- Search for various title defects, survey issues, and boundary disputes;
- Identify rights-of-ways and easements that may impact the buyer’s use of the premises;
- Investigate further into conveyances by Quit Claim deeds, Tax Sale deeds, and Foreclosure deeds;
- Confirm that the property has access to a public road;
- Search for mistakes and errors on any documents in the chain of title that could result in a cloud upon the title;
- Mortgage and finance companies typically require a title search to obtain title insurance for the loan; and,
- The peace of mind of knowing that your investment is not at risk because of a title defect or other issue with the property.
Contact a Jacksonville Real Estate Attorney to Discuss Performing a Title Search
Before you proceed with your real estate transaction, we invite you to meet with our Jacksonville real estate lawyer during a free consultation. Contact The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. by calling (904) 248-4482 or using the form above.