Whose Responsibility Is It to Perform a Property Title Search?

August 6th, 2013

Property Title SearchEvery real estate transaction will involve a title search; all parties involved in the transaction (the Real Estate Sales Professional, the mortgage broker, the lender and the real estate lawyer) will require a property title search for different reasons.

Historically, the Real Estate Sales Professional, mortgage broker and lender would rely on the real estate lawyer to perform the property title search, as it is one of their formal responsibilities. The only challenge is that sometimes, when the real estate lawyer performs the property title search, issues can arise that can complicate and delay closing; in some cases, these can even prevent a deal from closing altogether.

Advancements in technology have made relevant aspects of a property title search available to land professionals, like Real Estate Sales Professionals.

GeoWarehouse provides Real Estate Sales Professionals with online access to Parcel Registers which are an integral component of a property title search. Parcel Register data comes from the POLARIS database and is the most current and accurate information of its kind available. Accessing a Parcel Register online saves you an incredible amount of time and provides you with an abundance of information, including the legal description of a property, the property’s PIN, property owners, types of ownership, a history property of transfers, liens, and mortgages.

A Parcel Register helps you uncover issues that may delay, complicate or prevent a real estate transaction from closingsuch as:

  • Un-discharged mortgages – Too often mortgages that are paid off do not get formally discharged by the lender’s lawyer.  Un-discharged mortgages must be discharged before a future real estate transaction can take place.
  • Liens or encumbrances (property tax arrears, condo fee arrears, construction liens etc…) – liens often come as a complete surprise to sellers and it should be identified if they exist.
  • Other people on title.
  • Lack of property equity – if a seller has no property equity they cannot pay you. Finding this out quickly is important to see if there are other arrangements that can be made for payment, otherwise you may want to pass on the client.
  • Restrictive covenants, easements, and other registrations…

Issues like previously un-discharged mortgages that ended up being paid off can be overcome by obtaining proof and providing it to the lawyer, as can liens that have also been paid off. However, other people on title who do not want to consent to the sale of the propertyor insufficient equity to cover real estate and legal closing costs, can stop a deal dead in its tracks.

While it may end up ultimately being the real estate lawyer’s responsibility to perform the property title search, it pays to perform a Parcel Register and identify any potential issues, determine if they can be addressed, and address them long before the transaction ends up with the real estate lawyer. This will lead to higher closing rates, better time management (you will not be wasting time on deals that won’t close), strengthened relationships with partners, as more of your deals will close, and heightened due diligence that will prevent you from taking on clients who are unable to pay for your services.

If you would like more information about how you can obtain a Parcel Register online please visit www.geowarehouse.ca or call 1-866-237-5937.