Preliminary Title Search
A preliminary title search provides you with complete knowledge of the current legal status of a property and whether or not a sale can actually take place. Our vast database, collectively known as the Blue File Room, gives our firm the ability to pull property deeds, covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R) in just minutes.
A Preliminary Title Search report contains the legal description, possible liens, easements, CC&R, planning & zoning requirements, etc. Having a preliminary title search done is one of the best ways to avoid problems down the line that could be detrimental to the value of you or your clients’ investment.
This service is free of charge to all real estate professionals in our area, to ensure that their clients receive only the best legal advice and information. Call or email us today to search for potential title issues on your next property! It could save your sale!
What is a title?
The title of your home is a combination of legal documents and historical data that provides proof of ownership of residential property. The title of a residential property contains the deed of ownership, an in-depth history of the chain of ownership, a list of defects (if applicable), and more. It is required to have a clean title to initiate a real estate transaction, which means that any potential issues must be cleared before the sale can move forward.
What is a preliminary title search?
At Bradley Moreau Title, we have on-staff abstractors and legal professionals who will comb through the title of the property before anything is signed, a process known as the preliminary title search. Our Lafayette office features the Blue Room, which houses the covenants/conditions/restrictions, official plats, Clerk of Court records, legal descriptions, potential clouds on title, and planning/zoning requirements on every major development in Acadiana since the 1960s. We provide this service free of charge, so you know that your investment is always protected!
Performing a preliminary title search can save buyers and sellers headaches when trying to initiate a real estate transaction, as most issues that we discover can be fixed quickly during the closing process. Sometimes, title defects like liens and judgments can completely derail closing if the issue is substantial enough. Knowing these things on the front-end can help realtors and lenders find their clients the right home with a clear title for a smooth, easy, and stress-free closing.
What kind of title defects are there?
There are many different defects to title that can affect a real estate transaction, but the most common are liens/judgments, easements, and encroachments. Liens or judgments are legal disputes between the homeowner and creditor, like a bank, government entity, or credit union. If the homeowner has failed to pay the creditor, they can seek a lien on your house to recoup their losses.
An easement is a limited right to another entity to have access to your property for specific purposes, like the utility company requiring access to power or drainage lines on the property. Owners must abide by the easements, which are listed clearly in the title of the property. If not, the owner can face legal challenges from the owner of the easement, which can affect or end a transaction depending on severity.
Encroachments are features that cross-property lines, most commonly trees and gardens, structural additions, fencing, and more. While these may seem harmless, they can affect easements and lead to liability issues. Encroachments are noted on surveys of the property and must be addressed within a specific time frame. If left unresolved an encroachment will force changes to the property boundaries and cause problems with the title, known as an encumbrance. The owner of the encroachment can seize possession of the land that the encroachment was built upon, and if it was never contested this could reduce your lot size and affect potential future profits.
Clerical errors, fraud and forgeries, illegal deeds, missing or unknown heirs to the property, and other defects to title can also affect the transaction of a property. Contact Bradley Moreau Title for an in-depth review and discover unknown clouds on title with a preliminary title search long before the deal falls through.
What is a title commitment?
A title commitment is a promise from a provider to issue a title insurance policy on a piece of property. It is equivalent to a binder for other types of insurance, which obligates the insurance company to issue the policy as set forth in the commitment. The document also contains any specific requirements that must be addressed prior to issuing the policy, such as releasing liens, correcting errors to the title, paying all due taxes to state and local agencies, etc.
How do I get a preliminary title search performed for my property?
Because the title report can be somewhat confusing for laypeople, we recommend you contact your real estate agent to initiate contact with us. Once you and your realtor have provided us with the address and other details about the property in question, we can pull our records and send them via a secured network to your agent for you to review together. Regardless of if you’re a buyer or seller, a preliminary title search can mean the difference between an easy close and a painful experience.
What is a lien?
A lien is a legal claim against a property by creditors to collect outstanding balances. If you’re behind on debts, banks or credit unions may file a lien against your home to recoup their losses. If the homeowner tries to sell the property before the lien is cleared, it can delay or even derail the entire closing. There are several different kinds of liens that can be placed against a piece of property or home and can include construction or mechanics liens, judgment liens, tax liens, and more. Some liens can be discovered and cleared during the title review and closing process, but others may not be so simple.
Lake Charles Office
1490 Market Street Suite 2
Lake Charles, LA 70601