What is a Title Search?

A title search or title certificate is like a background check for property. It tells you who owns the land, any debts or mortgages attached to it, and other important legal details. Think of it as the land's history book, giving you a clear picture of what you’re dealing with.

View a sample Title Search

Why are Title Searches Important?

When you're buying or developing a property, surprises are the last thing you want. A title search ensures there are no hidden issues that could affect new ownership. Here’s what it typically involves:

  • Ownership Verification: This step confirms the identity of the property's current owner and their legal authority to sell the property.
  • Financial Encumbrances: It checks for any existing financial claims against the property, like mortgages or liens, which need to be cleared before the property can be sold.
  • Easements and Rights: The search identifies any easements that grant others the right to use parts of the property for specific purposes, such as utility maintenance or access rights, which could restrict how the property is used.
  • Covenants and Restrictions: This involves reviewing any conditions or restrictions attached to the property from previous agreements that might limit its use or development.
  • Legal Issues: Finally, the search looks for any pending legal actions or claims against the property that could complicate ownership.

Conducting a title search is critical as the title certificate helps ensure that you receive a clear and undisputed title. It safeguards against potential future disputes and legal challenges, providing peace of mind and legal protection to the buyer.

Ordering a Title Search Through an Authorised Information Broker

To get a title search, you should go through an information broker authorised by the relevant state authority. Here’s why:

  • Accuracy and reliability: Authorised brokers have direct access to the most up-to-date and official records.
  • Legal compliance: They ensure that the search is conducted legally, and the information is used appropriately.
  • Professional support: Expert brokers can help interpret complex legal information and they can advise on any potential issues.

Who should perform a Title Search?

Owner-Builders and Homeowners

For owner-builders and homeowners, a title search is crucial for confirming the current legal owners of the property, which is essential for verifying ownership before purchase or development. Additionally, title searches can reveal any covenants and easements that may restrict how the property can be used or developed, such as limitations on the types of structures allowed or access rights granted to others. Understanding these aspects is vital to avoid legal complications and to ensure the property meets their development needs.

Builders and Developers

Builders and developers find title searches invaluable for identifying easements and covenants associated with a property. These searches ensure that any development plans are in compliance with existing legal restrictions and that there are no unexpected legal claims (caveats) or other barriers that could impede construction and development projects.

Commercial Property Owners

For commercial property owners, especially those managing extensive portfolios, title searches provide a clear picture of ownership, mortgages, registered leases, and any pertinent easements, covenants, or caveats. This is crucial for planning the use, development, and lease of commercial properties, ensuring that all dealings are based on accurate and current property data.

Property Investors

Property investors rely on title searches to uncover details about the owners, existing mortgages, registered leases, and any caveats on the property. This information is critical to assess investment risks and to ensure the property is free of unresolved financial encumbrances or other legal claims that could impact future profitability or lead to financial losses.

Mortgage Lenders

Mortgage lenders use title searches to verify the owner's legal right to the property and to check for existing mortgages where they might not have priority. This information ensures that the property has sufficient value and is not overly encumbered, making it a secure collateral for the loan.

Lawyers and legal professionals

Lawyers depend on comprehensive title searches to obtain accurate details about property ownership, mortgages, easements, covenants, and caveats. This information is essential for providing legal advice, managing property transactions, and resolving disputes that involve property law complexities.

When should I order a Title Search?

When buying or developing property, it’s crucial to know exactly what you're dealing with legally before you proceed. A title search is a tool that helps you do just that by uncovering any legal issues with the property. Here's when it’s best to purchase one:

If you are buying a property

  • Before You Offer: It’s a good idea to do a title search before you even make an offer on a property. This way, you'll know if there are any issues, like unpaid debts tied to the property or legal restrictions on how you can use it, which could influence your decision or how much you're willing to pay.
  • Just Before You Finalise the Purchase: Have another title search done right before you finalise the purchase, commonly known as "closing." This is to ensure that no new problems have popped up since your last check.

If you are developing a property

  • Before Buying the Land: Just like with buying a home, you should do a title search before you buy land for development. This check will tell you if there are any conditions or limits on building, such as rights-of-way for utilities or design restrictions, which could affect your plans.
  • When Planning Your Development: Once you start planning what to build, it's wise to check again to make sure no new legal issues have come up that could delay or halt your project. Councils and certifiers usually require proof of ownership when submitting a Development Application (DA) or Complying Development Certificate (CDC) application, and a current title search is the most straightforward way to provide this. Without this information, there may be delays in processing the application, or it may be rejected if the council or certifier discovers that there are legal constraints not considered by the applicant.

What are the benefits of a Title Search?

  • Stay Updated: For long projects, keep doing title searches now and then. This helps catch any new issues early, keeping your project on track.
  • Refinancing or Getting More Loans: If you're looking to refinance the property or get more loans against it, a title search makes sure the property is free of legal problems that could interfere with new financing.

Conducting title searches at these key times can save you from future headaches by ensuring the property is legally clear and ready for your plans. It's about making sure you're informed and protected every step of the way in your property journey.

How do I Order a Title Search?

Ordering a title search is a critical step in the property planning or property purchasing process. Let's walk through how you can select the right information broker for your needs and order a title search.

Selecting an Information Broker

Choosing the right information broker is crucial for getting accurate and comprehensive title search results. Here’s what to consider:

  • Authorisation: Ensure the broker is authorised by Land Registry Services. This guarantees they have access to official and up-to-date property records.
  • Experience: Look for a broker with experience in handling title searches for purchasing property, property development and construction projects. They’ll have a better understanding of the specifics and complexities related to your requirements.
  • Reputation: Check reviews and testimonials from other builders or developers. A broker with a strong track record in the industry is likely to provide reliable and efficient service.
  • Price: Different brokers might offer different levels of detail in their reports or have varying pricing structures. Compare these to find the best fit for your needs.

Ordering a Title Search

Once you’ve chosen a broker, the next step is to order the title search. Here’s a quick guide on how to do it:

Step 1: Visit the Website

Search and go to the information broker’s website. Some brokers will require you to sign up to create a new user account by providing some basic personal information. Fynd conveniently allows guest checkouts, so you can purchase a title search without the requirement of creating an account.


Step 2: Request a Title Search

Navigate to the relevant section for title searches. Enter the necessary details about the property, such as the address or lot and DP/SP number, to specify which property you need information for. Step

3: Confirm and Pay

Double-check the information you’ve entered to make sure it’s correct. Complete the payment using a preferred method offered on the website.

Step 4: Receive and Review the Report

Once the title search is complete, you will usually be emailed the document soon after your payment has been authorised. You should also be able to download the report directly from the broker's website. Review the report carefully to understand the legal aspects of the property, such as ownership, liens, and any restrictions.

Following these steps will help you successfully order and use a title search report from an information broker, providing you with critical insights into the property's legal standing. This is invaluable for making informed decisions when purchasing or developing a property.

Reviewing the Results of a Title Search

Reviewing the results of a title search can be critical for understanding the legal standing of a property you're interested in purchasing or developing. Here’s a breakdown of how to interpret key elements in a title search report:

1. Legal Ownership

  • What It Shows: This information identifies the current legal owner of the property.
  • What It Means: Confirming legal ownership is essential to ensure that the person selling the property is the rightful owner and has the authority to sell it. Any discrepancies in ownership need to be resolved before proceeding with a transaction.

2. Mortgages and Liens

  • What It Shows: This part lists all the financial claims against the property, such as mortgages (loans taken out to purchase the property) and liens (legal claims against the property for unpaid debts).
  • What It Means: Mortgages and liens must be settled or assumed under agreed terms before the new owner takes over the property. If unresolved, these claims can affect your ability to gain clear title to the property, impacting your ownership rights.

3. Easements and Encroachments

  • What It Shows: Easements are rights granted to use the property for a specific purpose (like utilities or access)
  • What It Means: Easements can limit how you use the property (e.g., where you can build), and encroachments might require legal action to resolve if not previously agreed upon. Understanding these helps in planning the use of the property and avoiding future disputes.

4. Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions

  • What It Shows: These are rules and limitations associated with the property use. For example, a covenant might restrict building heights or adhere to heritage requirements.
  • What It Means: The rules dictate how you can develop and use the property. Violating these conditions can lead to legal issues or fines, so it’s important to know and understand them fully before making any changes to the property.

5. Registered Leases

  • What It Shows: This part of the title search displays all leases that are formally registered against the property, particularly those with terms longer than three years. It includes details such as the lease duration, the lessee’s rights, and any specific conditions or obligations outlined in the lease agreement.
  • What It Means: Registered leases are significant because they are legally binding agreements that are attached to the property, regardless of ownership changes. This means that any new owner must honour the terms of these existing leases. Understanding the implications of registered leases is crucial for a prospective buyer or developer as it affects how the property can be used or developed until the lease expires.

6. Legal Actions and Claims

  • What It Shows: This section indicates any ongoing or past legal proceedings involving the property, such as disputes over boundaries or previous ownership claims.
  • What It Means: Ongoing legal actions need to be considered carefully as they can affect your ability to use the property or could involve future legal obligations. Resolving these issues before purchasing or developing the property is crucial to avoid inheriting legal problems.
Tips for Reviewing the Title Search Report
  • Take Your Time: Don’t rush through the report. Take time to understand each section fully.
  • Seek Clarification: If you find anything confusing or concerning, don't hesitate to ask questions. You can seek clarification from the broker who provided the report or consult an independent party, such as your lawyer or conveyancer.
  • Consider Professional Advice: For complex issues, especially legal actions or unclear easements, getting professional legal advice is advisable to fully understand the implications for your specific situation.

By carefully reviewing each section of the title search report, you ensure that you are well-informed about the property’s legal standing and are better prepared to make decisions regarding the property transaction or development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here's a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about title searches, designed to address common concerns:

Why do I need a title search if I'm buying property?

Answer: Conducting a title search is crucial when buying property as it helps ensure that you receive a clear and undisputed title. It reveals any legal or financial claims against the property that could affect your ownership rights, such as previous unpaid debts or unresolved disputes.

How often should I conduct a title search on my property?

Answer: It's advisable to conduct a title search whenever you plan to buy, sell, develop, or refinance property. For ongoing developments or investments, periodic checks can help monitor any new encumbrances or issues that may arise due to changes in local laws or recorded liens.

What kind of issues can a title search reveal?

Answer: A title search can uncover several potential problems including outstanding mortgages, liens for unpaid debts, legal judgments against the property, easements that might restrict property use, and covenants limiting property changes or developments.

How long does a title search take?

Answer: The duration of a title search can vary depending on several factors such as:

  • the technological capabilities of the information broker
  • the complexity of the property’s history, and
  • the availability and efficiency of the Land Registry Services (LRS) systems.

Typically, it takes anywhere from a few minutes to a few days to receive the results of a title search.

Can a title search guarantee that no problems will arise after purchase?

Answer: While a title search provides a detailed history and flags any known issues, it does not guarantee against all potential future disputes. For added protection, you might consider purchasing title insurance, which can cover the costs arising from any undiscovered issues later on.

What should I do if the title search reveals problems?

Answer: If problems are revealed during a title search, it’s advisable to consult with a legal professional. Solutions might involve clearing up unpaid liens, resolving disputes, or renegotiating the property purchase terms based on the new information.

How much does a title search cost?

Answer: The cost of a title search can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the search and the information broker you choose. Generally, the price for a basic title search can range from around AUD $20 to AUD $100. This basic search typically provides details such as the current owner, any encumbrances, caveats, and covenants on the property.

If you require more comprehensive information or additional documents, such as old records or more detailed reports on encumbrances, the cost can increase. These additional documents and searches can bring the total cost up to several hundred dollars depending on the depth and breadth of information required.

If you have any questions at all, please reach out to our team at support@fynd.au and let us know how we can help.

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A title search is an examination of public records to confirm a property’s legal ownership and identify any claims on that property.

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Title search
Confirm a property’s legal ownership and identify any claims on that property.