When someone purchases real estate in New Jersey, the seller has a legal duty to provide the new owner with a clear title to the sold property. In other words, the property title should be free of liens, third-party claims, or any other issues that could jeopardize the prospective buyer’s ownership. Title searches for New Jersey real estate are necessary to ensure that real estate has a clear title. If you are in the process of buying real estate in New Jersey, consider contacting a skilled attorney who can conduct a title search and ensure that the property has a clear title. Obtain a free case review with our attorney at The Law Office of Jonathan Fleisher, Esq. by calling 732.360.6409 today.

What Are Title Searches For New Jersey Real Estate?

A title search for real estate is the process of examining public records related to the property and reviewing existing documents to confirm that the person who sells property is the rightful owner who has a right to sell it. Title searches for New Jersey real estate usually occur once a property owner and buyer sign a purchase agreement.

The purpose of the title search is to look for any claims or liens on the property that could affect the buyer’s purchase of the property.

How Do Title Searches Work?

Typically, title searches are performed by licensed title companies or attorneys. In most cases, it is the prospective buyer of a property who orders a title search because they want to make sure that the purchased property has a clear title.

In some cases, a title search may be ordered by a lender or another entity that needs to confirm someone’s ownership of the property. This may be the case when a financial institution needs to approve a loan that uses real estate as collateral.

The website of the State of New Jersey Department of State contains links to the property search database of each county.

What Happens After the Title Search?

Once all title searches for New Jersey real estate are completed, the title company or attorney will provide a comprehensive report to the prospective buyer or another interested party. The report will contain information about any liens, third-party claims, judgments, and other potential issues that may affect ownership.

If any issues are discovered during a title search, the prospective buyer and their lawyer will contact the seller or lender to notify them of the title issues. The purpose of the title search is to ensure a transfer of a clear title to the buyer. Once all the title issues are resolved, the parties can proceed to the closing process.

At The Law Office of Jonathan Fleisher, Esq., our knowledgeable and skilled attorneys can help real estate buyers in New Jersey perform title searches to protect clients against any future claims.

What Do Title Searches Look For?

Title searches examine public records to confirm the seller’s ownership rights and uncover any judgments, liens, delinquent taxes, or other title issues. Prospective buyers and other interested parties conduct title searches to discover the following:

  • Judgments. If the seller of the real estate has experienced financial issues, collectors or other parties may have obtained judgments against them. Public records contain all judgments against property owners in the State of New Jersey. A title search will look for any unsatisfied judgments against the owner of the property.
  • Liens. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), total commercial and multi-family outstanding debt in the United States rose to nearly $4 trillion at the end of the second quarter of 2021. Many property owners in New Jersey and across the country have liens attached to their real estate, which is why it makes sense to perform a title search to ensure that the property is free of liens. Judgment liens authorize creditors to take possession of the property owner’s real estate if the owner fails to fulfill their contractual obligations. Liens could include outstanding loans that use the property as collateral. The purpose of a title search is to ensure that liens (if any) have been satisfied and removed at closing.
  • Delinquent taxes. If the seller or property owner fails to pay property taxes before selling the real estate, the property title might not have a clear title due to delinquent taxes. The State of New Jersey or the Internal Revenue Service may also file a lien against the owner’s property for unpaid income taxes.
  • Third-party ownership claims. Title searches for New Jersey real estate may also reveal that third parties have an ownership interest in the property. It is not uncommon to uncover third-party ownership claims when the administrator of a deceased person’s estate fails to have all parties with an ownership interest sign a deed transferring the property to one person.

A title search may also uncover other issues that may pose any potential threat to a future owner’s full right or claim.

How Long Do Title Searches Take?

Depending on several factors, it could take anywhere from a day to five days to complete a title search. The duration of the title search depends on such factors as:

  • The availability of documents that must be reviewed when performing a title search
  • The type of the property
  • The examined property’s transaction history
  • The existence of any judgments or unresolved liens attached to the property

An experienced attorney can help explain the process and estimate the time frame to perform a title search in your particular situation.

Contact a New Jersey Attorney to Perform a Title Search for Real Estate

Consider speaking with an attorney if you need assistance with conducting a title search and going through public records to determine if a property in question has a clear title. Title searches for New Jersey real estate can reveal various issues that could eventually jeopardize your ownership or cost thousands of dollars to resolve the issue. Our competent and qualified attorneys at The Law Office of Jonathan Fleisher, Esq. are prepared to answer your questions about title searches and assist you with verifying the legal owner of a property and discovering any potential issues. Call 732.360.6409 to talk about your case.