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What is a Title Search?
 A title search is a means of determining that the person who is selling the property really has the right to sell it, and that the buyer is getting all the rights to the property (title) that he or she is paying for. A title exam is performed according to the following steps:

Chain of Title

This is simply a history of the ownership of a particular piece of property, telling who bought it and sold it, and when. The information may be derived from public records - usually a County Clerk's or Recorder's Office - or obtained from title plants privately owned and maintained by title companies. There are great varieties of such plants - index cards, punch cards, tract books, even sophisticated computerized plants. However, they all contain essentially the same information from which the history of the title may be secured.

Tax Search

This is a search to determine the present status of general real estate taxes against the property. The tax search will reveal if taxes are current or whether any taxes are past due and unpaid from previous years. In addition, the tax search will indicate the existence of any special assessments against the land and, if so, whether or not these assessments are current or past due. A due and unpaid tax or special assessment is a prior lien or claim on the property above all others. If a buyer purchases property with unpaid and past due taxes or assessments against it, he or she is likely to find a government body--the village, county, or state--placing the property up for sale to pay those taxes or assessments. A tax search reveals the status of the taxes. Title insurance protects the buyer against loss from unpaid and past due taxes and assessments.

Report on Possession

In many places where it operates, Secure Title Services, Ltd. sends inspectors to look at the property to verify the lot size, check the location of improvements, look for evidence of easements that are not shown of record and check on who is living there. The purpose of this is to supplement the information learned from the title search. In the eyes of the law, any buyer of real estate is assumed to have notice of all matters properly shown in the public records as to that real estate as well as any information that an actual inspection may reveal. If the inspector detects an unrecorded easement or other evidence of outstanding rights that could affect the owner's title and possibly the value and intended use, the company tells the buyer of these things before he or she closes the purchase. Those matters must then either be disposed of or shown as exceptions in the title insurance policy. Sometimes when an acceptable survey and appropriate affidavits are received, an inspection will not be made.

Judgment and Name Search

One of the most important parts of the title search is to determine if there are any unsatisfied judgments against the seller or previous owners which were in existence while they owned the title. A judgment is a general lien against the debtor's real estate and constitutes security for any money owed under the judgment. The real estate can be sold to satisfy the judgment. It is extremely important to be sure that a title is not subject to judgments against the seller or previous owners. Title insurance provides this protection. A judgment against a person named Smith may affect the title of a seller named Smith, depending on whether or not they are the same person. So all possible variations of the name must be examined. For example, the name Smith might be spelled Schmidt, Schmid, Schmidtt, Schmidz, Schmied, Schmiedt, Smid, Smythe, and so on. The name Nichols can be spelled 73 different ways, from Nachols to Nychals. The task is to determine which of these applies to the owner in question. First names have to be checked, too. There are 25 foreign forms of John, including Johann, Jehan, Hans, Shaun, Gudi, and Efom. Rights established by judgment decrees, unpaid federal income taxes, and mechanic's liens all may be prior claims on the property, ahead of the buyer's or lender's rights. If a judgment is discovered that constitutes a defect in the title, it is pointed out, and the seller must then eliminate it before the title of the new buyer can be insured free and clear of that judgment.

Commitment

When these searches have been completed, the title company issues a commitment to insure, stating the conditions under which it will insure the title. The buyer and seller and the mortgage lender can proceed with the closing of the transaction after clearing up any defects in the title which may have been uncovered by the search and examination. The mortgage lender is as concerned as the buyer about the quality of the title because the property is to be security for the new mortgage loan. The mortgage lender requires assurance that it has a valid first (or another acceptable priority) mortgage lien on the property. This is not only common sense, but generally is a legal requirement of regulated mortgage lenders. The lender's title insurance, however, doesn't protect the new buyer of the property. Although the land is the same, the interest of the buyer and the interest of the lender are very different. The provisions of a lender's title insurance policy are very different from those of a buyer's policy, so the buyer should obtain his own policy, often issued simultaneously with the lender's policy.

What is title Insurance?

Title insurance protects your ownership of property you acquire. It protects you from title defects which may have been created in the past, while other types of insurance protect against future occurrences. Title insurance is issued based upon a search of public records to determine the marketability of your property. However, it also protects you from matters not disclosed by public records.

What is a Title Defect?

A title defect is anything in the past ownership of a piece of real estate that may interfere with the owner's right to "peaceful enjoyment" of the property or that may cause the owner's loss to any portion of the property. While a title search will disclose title defects revealed by public records, there are other risks covered by title insurance that would not be discovered by a title search, such as: Misfiling or improper indexing of recorded documents.Forgeries or false impersonation of those executing documents.Secret marriages or misrepresentation or fraud as to actual marital status.Undisclosed heirs or children born after execution of a will, or deed delivery after death.Execution of documents under fraud, duress or undue influence.Confusion as to same or similar names.Lack of capacity (legal age or mental competency) of a grantor.

Why isn't an Attorney's Title Examination and Opinion Sufficient?

An attorney's liability is limited to errors and oversights; an attorney is not liable for loss caused by hidden defects. Recovery of damages against an attorney is limited to that attorney's insurance, solvency, and lifetime.

Doesn't a Warranty Deed Protect Me?

No. With a general warranty deed, a grantor can only pass to the grantee such title as the grantor holds. Recovery against a grantor under a general warranty deed depends entirely upon the financial ability of the grantor to pay a judgment, if one is rendered, provided that the grantor can be located at the time a title defect is discovered. This can involve a long and costly court action.

I Paid for a Lender's Title Policy. Doesn't That Protect Me?
No. Even though your mortgage lender will require title insurance insuring it has a first lien on your property, your ownership is not protected unless you purchase an owners policy. In the event of a claim, the title company would only protect and defend the lender. As the owner, you would be liable for the financial burden of your own legal defense. If the defense is not successful, you could lose your home. Without owners title insurance, you become a self-insurer. Unless you're in a position to sustain financial losses defending the ownership of your property, this is not feasible.

What Does it Cost?

 Title insurance rates are based on a graduated scale according to purchase price. These rates are filed with the State of Ohio and are standard throughout the state.