The Deed Search in a Real Estate Transaction
Do I Need A Deed Search?
A Deed search is a review of all recorded deeds on a specific parcel of land to determine the history, ownership and liens of that land. This search is conducted at the local county recorders office. When the search is completed you receive either a chain of title or a abstract of title.
A chain of title is a list of each recorded document that pertains to the property. An abstract is a copy of every document in the order they were recorded.
What Is A Deed?
Deeds are used to transfer or encumber real property. The most common are Warranty Deeds, Quit Claim Deeds and Trust Deeds. The Warranty Deed and Quit Claim Deed transfer ownership of real property, while the Trust Deed adds a loan to real property. There are many other deeds but most either transfer land or add a loan.
When Do You Need A Search
There are many instances when you may want a search. If you are buying property at a tax sale or without title insurance you need one. If you plan on subdividing or developing land it may be helpful also.
The search is conducted by the title company before they issue title insurance so when you buy land you receive a title policy instead.
Who Does Deed Searches
Searches are conducted by title companies or independent title searchers. I recommend you use a title company. Title company personnel are required to be licensed by the state and are trained by the title underwriter.
The mineral search is a special type of search. It is only used in areas that have mineral exploration such as oil or natural gas. In these areas the mineral rights are often owned separately from the land.
When you own land but not the mineral rights it is helpful to know who owns them. Unlike surface rights the mineral right ownership may be divided in percentages and owned by dozens or hundreds of people. Because of this a mineral search can be expensive.
A search is helpful when you need to know the current condition of the land title and the history of ownership. The search can be conducted by a title company or independent title searcher.
If you are buying property insist on a title policy. The title company will conduct a search to issue the policy. You can request a copy of the chain of title at closing so you will have a history of ownership in addition to the title policy.