How Long Before Closing Is a Title Search Done in Florida?

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For buyers and sellers of residential and commercial property in Florida, the title search process is integral to the real estate transaction. Property title searches ensure that the property’s owners are correctly listed and that it has no liens or other restrictions that could interfere with the legal transfer of title. A proper title search protects both buyers and sellers from later legal disputes. 

Buyers and sellers are often aware that their closing attorney will be performing a title search as part of the process. But they may have questions about it, including: What exactly does a title search entail? How long before closing is a title search done in Florida? And what’s the timeline for ordering a title search so all records can be properly assessed before the parties sit down at the closing table? 

In this article, a title search attorney answers these questions and provides a comprehensive overview of real estate title and the title search process. This information better equips buyers and sellers for what to expect, and allows for a smooth and timely closing for your next real estate deal.

Are you searching for an experienced real estate attorney in Florida? With over 25 years of experience and countless satisfied clients, the LAW OFFICE OF GARY M. LANDAU, P.A. stands ready to serve you. Call us at (954) 979-6566 to schedule your complimentary consultation. 

Who Does Title Searches in Florida?

After a real estate contract is signed, the closing attorney will take numerous steps to ensure the property will be legally transferred to the new buyer. One of the most important steps is property title searches.

This title search of local government records provides information about the property’s current and past owners, any liens or encumbrances on the property by contractors or other entities, and other legal claims against the home. With a well-done title search, buyers are safeguarding their investment and can feel confident the property they are buying is free of recorded legal claims. 

In Florida, title searches rely on records kept by county clerks and other local government offices, including deeds, mortgages, liens, tax assessments, and more. Other records include open litigation involving the property. 

(Even with a thorough title search, however, it is impossible to rule out all potential future issues that might cause title concerns, which is why it’s still important to purchase title insurance provided by the closing agent.)

What Exactly Is a Title Search?

A title search is an examination of public records that determines the legal ownership of a property and any claims that have been filed against it. It is done by researching the chain of title from all past owners, ensuring that their ownership transfers were properly recorded. The title search also reveals any liens, encumbrances, or other restrictions that could affect its value or transferability.

Purpose of a Title Search

An experienced and knowledgeable title search attorney conducts a thorough title search to ensure that at closing the buyer receives clear title to the property. Problems that turn up from a title search, known as a cloud on the title, must be remedied before closing. A comprehensive title search protects buyers from taking possession of a property that has liens on it or where errors on past deeds mean the home was not legally conveyed.

How Long Does a Title Search Take in Florida?

A closing attorney can generally complete a title search within a few days. To minimize delays or complications with the title search process, it’s important to provide accurate information about the property to the attorney. 

A comprehensive title search also includes inquiries to the city where the property is located, to determine whether past water bills and other city charges are up to date. Unfortunately, some title companies or other closing agents often skip this important step.

If problems are found during the title search, the time it takes to clear them up depends on the issue involved. Open water bills or small contractor liens can be paid quickly and the cloud can be removed. Complex issues, like the death of one of the owners, take much longer, in that case because the deceased person’s estate would likely need to go through probate.

Importance of Completing the Title Search Before Closing on a Property

Completing the title search before closing on a property is a necessary step towards closing. Title searches that are not thorough or are incomplete can harm the buyer, with potential legal disputes or financial claims attached to the property even after the purchase is finalized.

Protecting the Buyer’s Investment

A title search protects a buyer’s investment by uncovering existing claims, liens, or other encumbrances. Identifying these issues before closing allows a seller to fix any problems that appear so the transaction can be completed.

Florida law requires sellers to provide “marketable title,” free of defects that could affect a buyer’s property rights. A comprehensive title search ensures that the title the buyer is receiving is indeed marketable.

Uncovering Title Issues

A proper title search may reveal issues affecting ownership of the property, including:

  • Liens from contractors, the Internal Revenue Service, and others
  • Unpaid local property taxes
  • Outstanding mortgages 
  • Legal judgments attached to the house
  • Claims from previous owners

If any of these issues arise, they must be addressed before closing. A seasoned real estate attorney in Florida will navigate the process of resolving title issues.

Ensuring a Smooth Closing Process

Completing a thorough title search ensures the closing process on a Florida real estate deal goes smoothly. Identifying and addressing potential problems early avoids  last-minute surprises that can delay or derail a closing. 

Working with an experienced title search attorney throughout the process ensures the title search is done properly and comprehensively.

Potential Risks of an Incomplete Title Search in FL

An improperly performed title search can prove costly to both buyer and seller. 

Problems stemming from a poor title search include:

Missed Issues Impacting the Title

Without a thorough title search, important issues may be missed. Perhaps the legal description for the property was recorded incorrectly when the seller had purchased the home. Maybe the owners bought the home as a couple but one since passed away, leaving that person’s interest to their children. 

Unforeseen Liabilities for the Buyer

Financial issues can also be revealed in a title search. Perhaps a contractor who did work on the roof years ago was never paid. Or maybe years of water bills could be outstanding.

These types of liens “attach” to the home, which means the new buyer could be responsible for paying them, even though the bills were incurred by the seller.

Delays in the Closing Process

If there are problems with a home’s title, it’s better they do so as early as possible. Title searches that are done late or incompletely can cause issues to appear right before closing, triggering unnecessary delays or derailing the deal.

The LAW OFFICE OF GARY M. LANDAU, P.A., Experienced Real Estate Attorney in Florida Serving Broward and Palm Beach Counties

An experienced title search attorney will perform a thorough title search early in the process, so everyone can feel confident that the property sale will move easily to completion. 

With more than 25 years of experience and countless satisfied clients, Gary M. Landau and his team are uniquely positioned to help you with your probate and real estate needs in South Florida. Whether you’re ready to probate a loved one’s estate or to write your own will, or if you are purchasing a home, have inherited a home, or want a closing agent to handle title insurance and all documents for your closing or refinancing, the Law Office of Gary M. Landau is ready to work with you. 

Call our office at (954) 979-6566 or complete our online form today to schedule a free consultation. We work with our clients in person, over the phone, or on Zoom.

Copyright © 2023. LAW OFFICE OF GARY M. LANDAU, P.A. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. 

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Coral Springs, FL 33067
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