UNDERSTANDING TITLE INSURANCE
METHODS OF TITLE SEARCHES
There are various methods by which title to a parcel of real property can be
In some areas of the country, title companies or lawyers retained by
the customer go directly to the county records when conducting a title
search. In others, title companies maintain copies of those records in
"title plants," which are located right in the company's offices.
In some parts of the country, predominantly in the northeast, the
counties' records are maintained in Grantor/Grantee books that index
properties by seller's and buyer's names and are laborious to search.
In some states, the county real estate records are indexed in a Tract
Index similar to a title company's title plant. A tract index indexes
properties by the property location, i.e., lot number, and if reliable,
title companies may use them instead of going to the expense of building
their own title plants.
Title Plant Examination
The other method of title searching is called the Title Plant
Examination. The title examiner makes the search from the company's
title plant records. The plant contains a duplicate of the "public
records", which has been reorganized and indexed in a more useful
fashion. This means that once the searcher locates the property, the
searcher has instant access to all instruments affecting that property.
This method of title search has been used in most metropolitan areas
since the advent of title insurance. It requires that the title insurer
or its agent own a title or abstract plant.
When the search is completed, copies of all pertinent documents, tax
searches, name searches, etc., are sent to a title officer. It is the
officer's responsibility to examine those items and arrive at a
conclusion as to who owns the property and what encumbrances or defects
exist. The officer may also set out certain requirements to clear up any
problems disclosed by the search and examination.
The title officer may also have to make certain underwriting decisions.
Suppose, for instance, that there are building restrictions limiting
buildings from being built closer than 30 feet from the front lot line,
but our building is actually located 25 feet from the front line. Can we
guarantee the lender that it will not suffer loss because of this
violation? At Old Republic Title, we take pride in trying to resolve
such problems - many of them are very complex and require skill and
experience to underwrite to our customer's satisfaction.
If a particularly difficult problem arises or it involves a large title
policy, your local title officer will often call the Regional Counsel or
our Chief Title Counsel in for advice and suggestions