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Spring is a common time for house hunting; mortgage applications typically begin to increase at the beginning of February and grow steadily in the following months. When you’re in the market to buy a house, you keep hearing “title search” but first-time homebuyers may not feel entirely certain of what that means.
A title search is a search of the public records to determine ownership of the property and to identify defects shown in the public records. In simple terms, the title lists any errors, judgments, restrictions, and other issues related to the property in the public records. Even if your home is new, the land involved still has a history to be researched. A title search will only reveal defects shown in the public records. Title insurance based on an attorney’s title search covers defects shown in the public records plus other defects that are not recorded in the public record, such as a forged deed. Normally, there is no need to conduct the title search until you have a contract to purchase the house. The standard Offer to Purchase requires the seller to deliver clear title and if the title search reveals defects then you do not have to close on the property.
Here are five such defects one might find when conducting a title search.
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