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Title Searchers and Examiners


To mortgage, sell, build on, or even give away a piece of real estate, the ownership of the land must be first proven and documented. This ownership is known as a title. Establishing a clear title, however, is not an easy task. Land may change hands frequently, and questions often arise as to the use and ownership of the property.

In the United States, most major real estate dealings are publicly recorded, usually with the county recorder, clerk, or registrar. This system began in colonial Virginia and has spread throughout the rest of the country, giving the nation a unique method for keeping track of real estate transactions. In some areas of the country, a title can be traced back 200 years or more.

Over that length of time, a parcel of land may change ownership many times. Owners divide large pieces of land into smaller parcels and may sell or lease certain rights, such as the right to mine beneath a property or run roads and irrigation ditches over it, separately from the land itself. Official records of ownership and interests in land might be contradictory or incomplete. Because of the profitability of the real estate business, the industry has devised methods of leasing and selling property, which makes the task of identifying interests in real property even more complicated and important.