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  • Writer's pictureLeslie W. Peters

The Title Search: What it Is and Why It's Important

Title searches are a critical component of any real estate transaction, whether in South Carolina or any other state. Below is a detailed look at what a title search is and why it’s so important.

What is a Title Search?

A title search is a thorough examination of the public record for anything relating to the property in question. This includes information such as ownership rights, sales, current mortgages, taxes, judgments, liens, pending lawsuits, and anything else that may affect the property. The purpose of the title search is to bring any potential issues to the attention of the buyer and seller so they can make an informed decision before pursuing the real estate transaction.

Why is a Title Search Important?

A title search is like a safety net for your future home investment. It is crucial because it reveals any potential threats to your ownership rights—such as unpaid liens or judgments—that may not be apparent without looking at the public records. A title search ensures that everything is in order, that the property has a clean title, and that the purchaser can take possession of their new home without legal obstacles. No one likes unexpected surprises, especially when dealing with one of the most expensive investments a person will make. With a title search, a buyer can protect themselves from these unpleasant surprises and ensure that they and the seller are protected.

The Process of a Title Search

Typical steps in the title search procedure include reviewing public records such as mortgages, property deeds, land records, and any legal proceedings or court cases connected to the property. A title search may also entail contacting local government agencies, like the county courthouse, the county Register of Deeds, and other various county offices to ensure that the property is free and clear of all taxes, assessments, and liens.

Who Conducts a Title Search?

A real estate attorney conducts title searches, generally with the help of a title abstractor. The title search will give a thorough account of the property’s ownership history and highlight any unresolved issues that must be resolved before finalizing the sale.

What is a Title Report?

A title report is a document that outlines the results of the title search performed by the title abstractor. It includes information about the property’s ownership history, lists any liens or encumbrances on the property, and contains any other issues that might affect the title. The title report is then reviewed by a licensed South Carolina closing attorney.

What is a Clouded Title?

If the title search reveals an issue, such as an existing lien or unpaid property taxes, it’s said that the title has a “cloud” on it. Sometimes, a clouded title will simply delay the closing as the issues are cleared up and the cloud is lifted. Other times, a cloud on the title will be so detrimental to the title that it can end a real estate transaction entirely.

Closing on a South Carolina Property? We Can Help

By understanding the importance of a title search and working with knowledgeable professionals, parties involved in South Carolina real estate closings can navigate the process more effectively and avoid potential problems. If you are purchasing a property in South Carolina, Boger & Peters is standing by to help. To speak with a member of our team about your upcoming closing, call (803) 252-2880 today.

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