While the typical turnaround time for a title exam is usually two to four business days, sometimes it does take longer for a report to come back from the courthouse. Usually this means that there are potential title defects or issues or additional items that need to be investigated before the exam can be completed. Other times, the examiner may need documentation from additional courthouse offices beyond the deed records. The title to every property is unique, and because every property’s title is unique, delays can and sometimes do unfortunately occur.

So. What can hold up a title exam? There are lots and lots and lots of different things that can affect how long it takes to get a title exam. Here are some of the more common issues we’ve encountered over the years:

  • Problems with the legal description. Sometimes a property’s legal description doesn’t match the county tax maps. Sometimes there’s a typo in a previous description that was just never corrected. And as we’ve seen, there are times when someone doesn’t technically own their property but the property next door. We’ve seen all of these issues occur.
  • Common names. Title searches are conducted by name. If there’s a common name in the chain of title, then that means more records must be searched to eliminate potential liens and judgments. If there’s a James Smith in the title, there are going to be way more records to go through. It’s the most common name in America.
  • Lots of conveyances. While most properties may have only several owners during the exam’s search period, other properties may have many, many more. For every additional owner, further examination is needed to make sure there are no outstanding liens and judgments against them or the property wasn’t sold twice. All of this extra research takes time.
  • Additional document requirements. If a property was owned by someone who has passed away, then the examiner will need to research the probate court records. Sometimes a property has been involved in a civil suit or a divorce action. Sometimes there’s a federal criminal matter to review. But when additional documents are needed to complete a search, that can contribute to delays.

Also. Examiners are just busier sometimes. Ever hop in your Chrysler at five in the afternoon to find yourself lining up in traffic just to get home? Ever leave in the early afternoon and you’re headin’ down the Atlanta highway? The same thing happens with title searches. There are times when examiners are busier – like the end of the month – and there are times when they’re movin’ and groovin’. That’s where it’s at.

While we work hard to get searches back as quickly as possible, sometimes delays do regrettably occur. Unfortunately, there is usually no way for us to tell what may be holding up an exam before it comes back from the courthouse. But as soon as your title exam comes in, however, we’ll absolutely let you know!

Harlan Florence is an Atlanta-based boutique law firm that believes there's a better way to handle your real estate closing. We'd love to work with you. Contact us today, and let's see what we can do together.

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