TITLE INSURANCE PRIMER

METHODS OF TITLE SEARCHES

There are various methods by which title to a parcel of real property can be examined.

Direct Search

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.

Title Examination

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.

Title Underwriting

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