Why it’s critiacal for a buyer to perform a Title Search before an offer

What is a title search? Generally, a title search includes a review of public records to trace and verify legal ownership of real property, find tax information, determine if there are liens/encumbrances against the property and find other exceptions to title.

What specifically should be included in the title search depends on the purpose of the search. For example, is the conventional buyer or real estate investor conducting research to decide whether to make an offer on a property?  Has the buyer already made an offer and wishes to conduct a title search prior to closing the transaction?

If a buyer is conducting research before deciding whether or how much to offer, a title research company tends to be the most efficient way to obtain the information quickly and conveniently. Title research companies are also commonly used for legal research, lending, development, debt collection research and other purposes.

Some seasoned real estate investors prefer not to open escrow and purchase title insurance because they are comfortable with the process of using a title research company or the investors conduct their own title searches. Seasoned investors are often proficient at calculating the risk of not using a title company and are prepared for unknowns.  However, most conventional real estate buyers are wise in using a title company to minimize risk.

In summary, title research companies are used for general research purposes and/or before making an offer.  Then, once an offer has been made and a contract has been signed, escrow is opened through a conventional title company, which will issue a preliminary title report with a commitment and close the transaction.

It is important to note that before choosing what type of title search you need (and where you should get it or whether you should consider doing it yourself), first decide how the information will be used.

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