After you search for a downtown Boston condo and settle on the perfect property, there’s still another search to perform: the title search. While the title search may not be as exciting as browsing those listings or dreaming of moving in, it’s a crucial step in a real estate transaction, and can have implications for your purchase if it turns up issues.
Here’s what you need to know.
A property’s title is the term used to describe the rights of the owner. It isn’t a document, like a deed, but instead “refers to the concept of ownership rights,” explains Megan Hernandez, director of marketing and public relations at the American Land Title Association.
If you’re buying a home, you want to make sure that the seller is the only one who has a claim to the title. This confirms that there are no other claims or liens on the property, and that the seller does, in fact, have the right to sell you their home in the first place. That’s where a title search comes in.
A property title search is a process in which a title company or attorney examines public records to make sure that there are no claims, liens or issues with a property that could result in another person or entity asserting they have a stake in the home.
An attorney or title company usually performs the title search, which is most often initiated after the seller and buyer execute a contract. The steps involved can vary depending on location.
The company or attorney generally does the sleuthing at the office of the county or municipal clerk where the property is located. Many of the necessary records are now available online, so the searcher often doesn’t need to physically visit an office to conduct the search.
A thorough title search will also likely include details about mortgages attached to the property, street and sewer assessments, taxes and any other title problems present, Hollander says.
The title search can take as little as a few hours, but in most cases, it’ll take between 10 and 14 days. In general, the older the home, the longer the title search. If there’s a lengthy cast of owners and transactions involving the property — a home equity loan against it, for example, or a past property line dispute — there is more work involved to make sure there is a clear title.
As a Realtor, I have access to a property database. The information in the database is provided through public records. That means I have all sorts of information about Boston downtown condos for sale. I have even used the database to lookup an address when all I have is a name so that I could send a greeting card.
There is information about mortgages or if the Boston condo for sale is owned free
Anyone can put a property address into Google and find all kinds of information about it. The size of the house and number of bedrooms and how much the current owner paid for it and the current value. Even though the property is private the records are public.
It isn’t hard to find pictures of interiors. That should be private but those pictures tend to stay on the internet long after a home is sold.
Property tax information is public too. I always check to see if property taxes are current and the ownership of any property I list. Occasionally someone tries to sell a house that they do not own.
Information about your private property isn’t private.