If you’ve purchased real estate recently, you might not have received an Abstract of Title from the seller at the closing. An Abstract is a summary of the history of a parcel of real estate showing deeds, easements, mortgages, and other encumbrances going all the way back to the grant of title. An attorney typically uses an Abstract to draft a title opinion, which is a legal opinion setting out the current owners of property and active easements and mortgages.
While Abstracts provide the raw data for an attorney to form a title opinion (and they give history buffs plenty to pore over), Abstracts are becoming much less common. One big reason is that newly created home lots do not often come with newly created Abstracts. Probably the biggest reason, though, is that title insurance is becoming much more prevalent and property records are much more accessible.
Title insurance is very similar to a title opinion in that it shows the current owners of property and active easements and mortgages. An attorney or title company issuing title insurance will first issue a title commitment setting out the requirements for parties to the transaction to complete for the insurance to be issued (i.e. deliver a deed, record the mortgage, etc.). The title insurance company then indemnifies the lender (through the issuance of a lender’s policy) and the owner (if an owner’s policy is also purchased) if there are title issues later on.
Title insurance companies and attorneys can and do use Abstracts to issue title insurance, but online property records often replace or supplement Abstracts. Many county recorder’s offices are actively scanning old property records and all new property records onto online databases that anyone with a subscription can access. This online access provides convenient and affordable access to property records and makes the continuation of an Abstract redundant in many cases. As the reliance on Abstracts becomes less common, they are misplaced and not replaced or even not requested. Notwithstanding, you should absolutely hold on to your Abstract and keep it in a safe place as it still has value and can assist a title examiner when obtaining a mortgage loan or selling your property.
Ward & Oehler provides both title opinions and title insurance for lenders and buyers of real estate. We have online access to property records in Olmsted, Wabasha, Winona, Fillmore, Dodge, Mower, and Goodhue Counties regularly conduct closings for real estate throughout Southeastern Minnesota.
Want us to serve as your title company for a closing? Need to request a title commitment? Call the office or send your request to email@example.com.
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