What is a Title Search (Title Commitment – Title Insurance – Title Opinion)?

A title search is a rather broad term; it generally means looking through title records in search of title problems or to identify parties with a recorded interest in the property. In the context of a real estate transaction you might hear about an O&E Report, 40 year search, title commitment, or title opinion referred to as a title search.

An O&E Report is an “Owners and Encumbrance Report.” This is a title search that identifies the current owners of a property, as well as all mortgage and lien holders, parties with an easement over the property, etc.

A 40 year search examines all of the title records of a property going back at least forty years. A cut off at 40 years is made because of the Minnesota Marketable Title Act (Minn. Stat. § 541.023), which generally eliminates title claims older than 40 years.

A title commitment is the result of a title search performed by a title company done in the course of issuing title insurance. It lists owners, encumbrances, exclusions from coverage for the title insurance policy, and the requirements to convey clear title.

A title opinion is the result of a title search performed by an attorney. It, too, lists owners, encumbrances, exclusions from coverage for the title insurance policy, and what must be done in order to convey clear title.

NOTE: You must carefully read the title opinion or title commitment. Do not assume that anyone else is responsible for ensuring title to your land is clear. You need to understand all the easements, restrictions on use, and covenants that burden your property because these will be listed as exceptions on the title opinion and title insurance.

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