Title Abstracting

4 Replies

Anyone have any good suggestions on how to learn title abstracting? I am going to be investing in tax deeds and need to be able to research the titles of properties I am interested in. I don't think its feasable to pay someone else to research the titles for me due the fact that I will be looking at 10-15 properties at a time.

I have seen a couple courses online but I was just wondering if anyone has used any of them? Maybe a book someone has read? Or should I just go spend a couple days in the records room and figure it out while bugging employees and others I see in there?


It's really not referred to as "abstracting" anymore. A title abstract was what was done before title insurance was used. A lawyer would look through the mounds of deeds and liens on the property (the abstract) and give an opinion of title. Its commonly referred to as a title search now. I taught myself with the help of the ladies at the county clerk's office. It is a fairly simple process, but you will need to learn some of the document jargon as you go.

You pretty much are just doing a search through the owner's name and verifying that any liens and judgments that have been recorded have releases. You will run into deeds of trust (or something similar) that will secure the mortgage note, abstracts of judgments, mechanics liens, and tax liens. Depending on who is foreclosing most of these liens won't matter if you are buying at the foreclosure sale. I would recommend that you do some research on the foreclosure process in your state so you understand the basics, and then head down to the county clerk's office. Be friendly and I'm sure you will get plenty of help.

While attending today's foreclosure sale, I met a young law student who researches titles for the city's substandard housing department. He had several questions about getting into real estate investing. After we visited a while he offered to take me to real property records and walk me through the title search process. All of that to say, in a round about sort of way I acquired something that wasn't even on the day's agenda. I realize this was a fluke to meet the guy but perhaps you could hook up with someone like my friend or, as you suggested, pay someone who does this all of the time.

So it sounds like buying a course/book isn't neccesary.

I'm looking into this because I am going to be attending a tax sale next month here in NM. As some of you may know in NM a tax sale does NOT extinguish any previous leins on a property. That is why the title search is so important. The town I am in is a small town and the type of place where everyone is more than helpful. I imagine I should have no problem getting help from the employees at the clerks office.

As soon as the sale list is published I will take a trip over to the clerks office and look up a couple of the properties, this should give me time to practice and learn the ropes before the actual sale (3-4weeks later). My game plan is to head back to the clerks office a week before the sale to checkout the properties that have not been paid off since the announcement of the sale.

Anyhow, thanks for the insight guys, as always you have been very helpful and inspiring.


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