Exactly how long a property title search takes depends on a number of different elements in the transaction. A title search can take anywhere from a few hours to five business days to complete.
Title insurance companies typically base just how long a search will take them on factors such as:
- Number of documents needed for review
- Availability of documents for review
- Property age
- Property transaction history
- Any unresolved liens or other title issues
- Type of property being purchased
- Type of transaction – a new purchase or a refinance
With each of these points in mind, let’s look at what steps occur during a thorough property title search.
Property Title Search Process
The property title search process begins when an offer to buy real estate property is accepted. That’s the time when the title company begins to thoroughly examine a wide range of sources to determine whether or not the property is free of all liens, if any lawsuits are pending, and if there are any unpaid taxes, leases, mortgages, easements, or any other issues that could affect the ownership transfer.
The title company gathers and studies sources that include deeds, county land records, bankruptcy and divorce records, and any other kinds of financial judgments that could be attached to a property. Reviewing these documents reveal who owns the property legally, and can sell it. The title company makes certain that there are no hidden claims or liens on the property by parties the seller and buyer may not even know about.
The title search process usually goes back in time as far as possible, sometimes before a home was even built. It’s important to be this thorough, because title insurance protects both property owners and lenders against unforeseen property claims, whether those are liens, encumbrances or errors, as well as covering the costs of defending against any future claims.
If there are no outstanding issues with the property, the result is a clear property title search, in which the buyer and lender agree no issues exist or could come up after ownership of the property is transferred.
Preparing an Abstract of Title
When the title search is complete, the title company can see the property ownership history. Based on that history, the company then prepares a summary of its findings, called an Abstract of Title.
Title Opinion Letter
Next, a legal document called the Title Opinion Letter, will be issued to demonstrate the title validity. Assuming the title is valid, then the title company can issue title insurance.
Learn More About the Title Insurance Process at Pippin Title
If you’re interested in learning more about the title search process and how long it can take, reach out to us at Pippin Title, where our combination of proprietary technology and a network of thorough, highly skilled title researchers can streamline your title search. We’re ready to help, so contact us today at (646) 666-5993.