What Is a Title Report?

Daphne Mallory

A title report is a document that lists the ownership, debts and other important information about a piece of property that a person is interested in buying. The report is often compiled by an attorney, real estate company, mortgage company or private contractor that specializes in title searches. An individual can perform a title search on their own through using public records, if they know the proper procedures and locations to search for the information. The benefit of a title report is that it lets a potential buyer know that they can legitimately purchase a home or other piece of property, and that there are no issues in the history of the property that could put their ownership of it at risk.

Man climbing a rope
Man climbing a rope

A variety of information of interest to the buyer and seller of a piece of property which is included in a title report. The report will often contain the address and a description of the piece of property in question. It will list the sales history of the property, the names of previous owners and mortgage companies involved in the sales, the amount of those sales, the amount of property taxes that are paid on the property, and any outstanding liens or taxes owed. This often allows the buyer to know whether they’re paying a fair price for the property. For example, if a debt in the form of property taxes is owed on a house, the buyer could negotiate with the seller to have that amount deducted from the sale price, since they will assume that debt once they take ownership of the property.

Title insurance can help protect the buyer in the case where a title report is inaccurate or where there is a cloud on title. An inaccurate or incomplete title could potentially cause the buyer to have to quit the title and vacate the property. An example would be if a person had inherited the property from a deceased relative, but the title search failed to uncover that information. This could invalidate the sale, because the house was illegitimately sold to the buyer by a mortgage company or individual that was not the rightful owner. Title insurance is required as part of the mortgage process and the buyer can often recoup losses in events where a title is unclear and ownership issues come up.

Having an accurate title report ensures that the buyer can legitimately purchase a piece of property. When a report is first requested, the resulting information is known as a preliminary report. Once all of the information is believed to have been compiled, a final report is issued. The final report is often referred to as an abstract or an up-to-date report. After the abstract has been completed and title insurance has been purchased, the buyer is free to move forward with the purchase.

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