When a piece of property is bought or sold, someone has to verify the ownership, make sure the putative owner can actually sell the property, and ensure that no other person or institution has a claim on the property. And that is what a title search is meant to do.
A title search will uncover any legal issues, liens, or ownership disputes that could complicate or prevent the sale of the property. Title search is an exam conducted by an attorney or a title insurance company on a particular piece of property. It is meant to make sure that the owner of the property has the authority to sell it, and that no one else has any claim over it.
A title search includes looking at public records to ensure that the property has no liens or other unpaid debts (i.e. water bill, a tax lien). Essentially, the title search looks to protect both the buyer and seller. The process can be quite thorough as it also checks all deeds, contract, IRS lien records, and more.
So whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you need to have an understanding of what a title search covers in Boston.
What a Title Search Covers – The Basics
A title search aims to protect both buyers and sellers by finding out whether any back taxes are owed on the property and whether there are any liens against it. Basically, it ensures that the seller is in fact the rightful and full owner and can legally sell the property. It protects buyers from unwittingly taking on debt in the purchase and sellers from being the cause of that and then being subject to legal action.
Title searches can reveal important information about a property, including liens and other encumbrances that may affect your ownership of that property. They are particularly important when buying older homes or commercial properties.
Typically, the researcher who conducts a title search examines several kinds of public records – for example, those available from the county courthouse, tax assessors, surveyors, and deed recorders. You can conduct your own title search by visiting the county courthouse and by searching online, but most people in real estate recommend using the services of a professional. (You can find out more by contacting an agent at (617) 657-9811.)
So, what exactly does a title search cover (and uncover) in Boston?
First of all, a title search will reveal whether any taxes or special assessments are owed on the property, as well as how much is owed and to whom. The search will also find whether there are any liens against the property such as for an unpaid remodeling bill or unpaid sidewalk fee.
Also, a title search does not just search the property records. It can also check for restrictions, easements, water rights and other things that may affect the title.
Title Search Resources
To fully understand what a title search covers in Boston, you also need to know what resources and documents an investigator uses.
A title investigator will make use of the public records at the county tax assessor’s office (which are often accessible online today), typically located in a city or county building. From these records, the investigator can find out the tax history of the property and whether there are any outstanding taxes, as well as the property general description, parcel number, and lot number.
A title search also includes an examination of all pertinent titles and deeds. These will have been recorded at the county clerk’s office (or clerk of court in some municipalities), usually located in the county courthouse. The important details to be investigated include:
CURRENT LEGAL OWNER
Just because someone claims to be the owner or representative of the owner of the property, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily true. A title search is a legal verification that states whether or not the person making the offer to buy a piece property has the legal right to sell it. Anyone can make an offer to buy real estate, but only those who have the legal right to sell can do so. A title search makes sure that this person does indeed have the legal authority to sell the property.
OUTSTANDING LIENS OR MONETARY JUDGMENTS
Any outstanding liens or monetary judgments against the property will have to be satisfied and cleared before it can change hands. Otherwise, the seller can’t sell, and the title will not be released to the buyer because the lender will need to determine that there are no claims on the property prior to approving your mortgage.
ENCUMBRANCES THAT REDUCE PROPERTY VALUE
Within encumbrance, another party has an interest in the property. An encumbrance is a claim against real property that restricts how the property can be used or transferred. This could be anything from an unpaid mortgage loan to a lien on the title for non-payment of taxes. An encumbrance is created when an interest is established in land or property, such as the acquisition of a mortgage or a charge upon it, after its title has been registered at the Registry Office. Because when you search ownership details held by Land Registry, it only looks at printed title deeds and doesn’t include restrictions recorded against the title.
Although an encumbrance may not prevent the transfer of the title, it could lead to problems at a later date.
LENDERS WITH FINANCIAL INTEREST
What a title search covers in Boston also includes the important fact of whether there are any lenders that have a financial interest in the property. This usually takes the form of unpaid mortgage payments or outstanding debt in which the property was put up as collateral. Until these debts are satisfied, the title cannot be transferred
Knowing what a title search covers in Boston is as important for sellers as it is for buyers because sellers often aren’t aware of problems until a title search is conducted. That’s why a title search is an essential component of the process. Both buyer and seller can be assured that the property is free from financial restrictions, which reduces financial and legal risk on both sides.
To find out more about how to conduct a title search and what a title search covers, contact us at NextHome Titletown Real Estate today (617) 657-9811
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