As any real estate professional will tell you, one of the prerequisites to closing a transaction is to obtain a real estate title search. In most jurisdictions, a real estate title search is conducted by the title company that is handling the closing. In some jurisdictions, however, real estate title searches are handled by attorneys. Regardless of the practices of your jurisdiction, a real estate title search is essential to obtain and review before closing on any real estate transaction.
The typical real estate title search will reveal the following items: (1) any taxes owed on the real property; (2) any special assessments owed on the real property; (3) any existing recorded liens on the property; (4) any easements, rights or way or other such restrictions. I will briefly describe what you will likely find in each category.
With respect to any taxes owed on the real property, the category is fairly self-explanatory. The title search will indicate whether there are any taxes that have not been paid, the amounts of such back taxes, and the entity to whom the taxes are owed. Depending on the title search, the search may also include taxes that are due within the near future if they might become due prior to the scheduled closing of the transaction.
The title search will also frequently disclose any special assessments that may have been imposed against the property. Special assessments may include items such as sidewalks, sewer charges, and other property-specific charges.
For obvious reasons, it is important to know whether there are any existing liens on the property. Generally, a title search is a prerequisite for obtaining a title policy. To obtain the title policy, the title company will usually require the purchaser to remove the liens. This is usually accomplished through the purchase price being applied to any existing mortgages.
Finally, the title search will disclose if there are any easements, rights of way or deed restrictions encumbering the property. Depending on the buyer’s proposed use of the property, it is important to be aware of these as they could potentially conflict with the proposed use.
As with any real estate transaction, your real estate broker can be invaluable in helping walk you through the intricacies of the process. Obtaining a reputable broker can help you decipher a real estate title search. If you are buying property in Michigan, you can search by city at homethinking.com. Any reputable real estate broker will be able to advise whether the title search has any red flags.