Pennsylvania Title Searches and Abstracts
A title search or “title abstract” is the process of researching and reviewing all publically recorded documents that relate to a specific parcel of real estate and its owners. (See Also: Is a Title Search Always Necessary?)
The most common of these documents are deeds and mortgages, which are filed with the local recorder of deeds office or, in a select few Pennsylvania counties, the department of records or department of real estate. Other fairly common documents at these offices include satisfaction pieces, subdivision plans and plats, easement agreements, oil and gas leases, and easements.
Along with the documents filed with the recorder of deeds, the history of the property’s respective owners must be researched at the offices of the county prothonotary, register of wills, clerk of orphans’ court, and tax claim bureau, along with the records of the department of public welfare regarding child support liens and the records of certain federal district courts relative to bankruptcy filings and federal judgments, and the records of the department of state regarding any financing statements.
A typical title search requires the research and review of all these records for a period of at least 60 years from the present date. The most recent records are again reviewed immediately prior to recording the new documents, which is usually a deed or mortgage.
When a business owns the property, the department of state records must be researched regarding the timing of the entity’s validity with respect to its acquisition of that property, as well as obtaining a current certificate of good standing from the department of state indicating its continued validity with the state. A tax clearance certificate and, in certain instances, a bulk sales clearance certificate must also be requested from the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue.