There is one common element to all real estate purchases. It would be best to make sure that the property you are interested in has a clear title. As obvious as this step seems, many seem to ignore it.
However, always keep in mind that problems with the property titles generate most issues experienced during real estate transactions. Taking this home buying step seriously is critical.
The easiest way to escape these issues is to make a property title search. Here is everything you need to know about this process and how long it takes to complete.
Why Do You Need a Title Search
The property title search process needs to show any potential buyer that the respective real estate has a clear title. If this search produces a positive result, the purchase process can go on smoothly.
However, if the results show title issues, you must find the appropriate ways of clearing the title, or the deal could be terminated.
Either way, the result of this process will guide you towards the most appropriate next steps, whether stepping away or getting a guarantee on the property title.
Timeframe For Title Search
The average title search period ranges between 10 and 14 days. Some exceptions exceed this period if problems are discovered with the title. Usually, you can count on a maximum of two weeks’ delays in purchasing unless the issues are severe. Several key factors determine the exact time frame.
The search is made by specialists in this niche, and they follow exact steps that guarantee you a fast solution. Title search specialists need to make inspections and thorough searches, not knowing exactly what will come up.
If you compare this to other insurance policies, achieving the title policy might take considerably longer.
What Is a Clear Title?
The clear title amounts to proof that the current owner has full and sole ownership rights at their own will over the respective property. Subsequently, the owner can freely transfer this title to the buyer without legal issues.
A clear title prevents any issues, like debts towards creditors, pending mortgages, or other previous encumbrances.
Any real estate buyer needs to get title insurance that prevents the above-unwanted situations, both for the buyer and the lender. This can only occur after the seller proves to have this clear title.
What Do Title Searches Involve?
A professional title agent best makes the title search process. The agent’s main job is to thoroughly search all the available public records in search of the exact situation of the property owner. Part of the process is to discover who is the legal owner.
During this search, any unresolved issues about the property’s legal status and debts will show up. The respective issues are known within the real estate field as encumbrances.
If the title is unclear, measures will be taken to repair the situation. The same title agent implements these measures. Frequently, this process involves lots of effort and time to obtain a clear title that can be transferred.
The title search can transform into an exhausting process, which the buyer will not be directly involved with.
The public records search takes a decent amount of time. Yet nobody can guarantee how much the fixing of an unclear title might take.
The property inspections can be prolonged over a more extended period. Yet, the professional title inspectors and agents can almost always guarantee that the title shall be cleared. It is up to you if you are willing to wait for the extended time and if the property is worth the extra time and costs.
Keep in mind that only with a clear title can you become the rightful owner of a house or a piece of land.
Should You Wait for the Title Search?
The transaction shall not be signed in the absence of a clear property title. So, if you are fixated on a specific property, you have no choice but to wait for the title search to come to an end. The investigation includes the public records examination, the inspections, and the fixing of the title.
Your title agent will keep you updated with every new step and situation during the entire process. You will be notified by the agent when the title is cleared, and you can finalize the transaction.
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell MetroWest Massachusetts real estate for the past 33 years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. In 2018, he was the No. 1 RE/MAX real estate agent in Massachusetts.