When a piece of property is bought or sold, someone has to verify the ownership, make sure the putative owner can actually sell the property, and ensure that no other person or institution has a claim on the property. And that is what a title search is meant to do. A title search will uncover any legal issues, liens, or ownership disputes that could complicate or prevent the sale of the property. So whether you’re a buyer or a seller, you need to have an understanding of what a title search covers in Los Angeles.
What a Title Search Covers in Los Angeles – The Basics
A title search aims to protect both buyers and sellers by finding out whether any back taxes are owed on the property and whether there are any liens against it. Basically, it ensures that the seller is in fact the rightful and full owner and can legally sell the property. It protects buyers from unwittingly taking on debt in the purchase and sellers from being the cause of that and then being subject to legal action.
Typically, the researcher who conducts a title search examines several kinds of public records – for example, those available from the county courthouse, tax assessors, surveyors, and deed recorders. You can conduct your own title search by visiting the county courthouse and by searching online, but most people in real estate recommend using the services of a professional. (You can find out more by contacting an agent at 562-881-9811.)
So, what exactly does a title search cover (and uncover) in Los Angeles? First of all, a title search will reveal whether any taxes or special assessments are owed on the property, as well as how much is owed and to whom. The search will also find whether there are any liens against the property such as for an unpaid remodeling bill or unpaid sidewalk fee. Also, a title search can determine whether there are any restrictions or easements on a property.
Title Search Resources
To fully understand what a title search covers in Los Angeles, you also need to know what resources and documents an investigator uses.
A title investigator will make use of the public records at the county tax assessor’s office (which are often accessible online today), typically located in a city or county building. From these records, the investigator can find out the tax history of the property and whether there are any outstanding taxes, as well as the property general description, parcel number, and lot number.
A title search also includes an examination of all pertinent titles and deeds. These will have been recorded at the county clerk’s office (or clerk of court in some municipalities), usually located in the county courthouse. The important details to be investigated include:
CURRENT LEGAL OWNER
Just because someone claims to be the owner or representative of the owner of the property, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily true. A title search will make sure the seller is in fact the owner of the property and can legally sell it.
OUTSTANDING LIENS OR MONETARY JUDGMENTS
Any outstanding liens or monetary judgments against the property will have to be satisfied and cleared before it can change hands. Otherwise, the seller can’t sell, and the title will not be released to the buyer.
ENCUMBRANCES THAT REDUCE PROPERTY VALUE
Within encumbrance, another party has an interest in the property. Although an encumbrance may not prevent the transfer of the title, it could lead to problems at a later date.
LENDERS WITH FINANCIAL INTEREST
What a title search covers in Los Angeles also includes the important fact of whether there are any lenders that have a financial interest in the property. This usually takes the form of unpaid mortgage payments or outstanding debt in which the property was put up as collateral. Until these debts are satisfied, the title cannot be transferred
Knowing what a title search covers in Los Angeles is as important for sellers as it is for buyers because sellers often aren’t aware of problems until a title search is conducted. That’s why a title search is an essential component of the process. Both buyer and seller can be assured that the property is free from financial restrictions, which reduces financial and legal risk on both sides.