Purchasing a foreclosed property requires a certain amount of research. In addition to locating the foreclosure and hiring an inspector, you will need to conduct a title search. As a buyer, you need to verify all liens and mortgages against the property before submitting an offer or bid. To claim ownership, the title history must be clear. If you purchase the property without researching the title history, you will be held responsible for any liens associated with the property you own.
Obtain information on the foreclosed property. To search a title you will need the property address, name of the owner or parcel number. The parcel number is a unique identification number assigned to each property by the tax assessor.
Go to the tax assessor's office located in the county courthouse. Supply the tax assessor with the property address or owner's name to collect information on unpaid property taxes. Ask for the property's parcel number.
Visit the real property division of the courthouse. Provide the clerk with the parcel number of the property for precise search results. You will be able to review the names of the previous owners on the deed to ensure ownership was fully transferred. You will also be able to check for tax or mechanic's liens.
Hire a title company. For a fee, you can eliminate the research and protect your investment. Choose a reputable title company to insure the property for added protection against overlooked or unsurfaced liens. Once the title company determines the title history is clear, they will issue an insurance policy to cover the deed.
Many county court websites provide title information online. Check your local website to see if the feature is offered.
- Long Title Agency: How Does Title Insurance Work?
- Pro Title USA: Title Search FAQ page
- Charleston County: Charleston County RMC's Office
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What is owner's title insurance?" Accessed August 1, 2020.
- Old Republic Title. “What Is Title Insurance and How Does It Work?” Accessed May 22, 2020.
- Zillow. "What Is Title Insurance and Do I Need It?" Accessed August 1, 2020.
- GovInfo. "Public Law 93-533-Dec. 22, 1974," Page 1728. Accessed August 1, 2020.
Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.