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QUESTION: I was given an Abstract of Title at the closing on the purchase of my house. If I lose that abstract will I have lost title to the property?

ANSWER: No. An Abstract is merely a summary of information that can be obtained from courthouse records. There can, however, be a considerable expense to replace the Abstract so you should keep it in a safe place.

QUESTION: What information is included in an Abstract?

ANSWER: Your Abstract contains a history of all recorded documents that affect title to your property. The Abstract also normally tells you whether nor not there are any unpaid real estate taxes owing against the property, as well as whether or not there are any outstanding judgments or liens against current or previous owners of the property that create a lien against the property.

QUESTION: Why do I need an abstract?

ANSWER: You need an updated Abstract when purchasing property to make sure that the seller has good title to the property and to make sure that there is no defect in the title that makes the title unmarketable. Also, when you seek a loan in which you pledge your interest in the property as collateral, your lender will require that the abstract be updated and reviewed to make sure that title is in your name and that the title is marketable.

QUESTION: Who examines the Abstract to determine who owns the property and whether the title is marketable?

ANSWER: Normally, that is established by an attorney who examines the Abstract and furnishes either you or your lender with a “Title Opinion.” The title opinion sets forth the name of the record owner(s), identifies what interests others might have in the property (such as a utility company that may have an easement), and states what problems, if any, exist that make title unmarketable.

For answers to frequently asked questions in other areas of law, select:
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