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‘How to’ Read a Title Search

Tony Spagnuolo, President of Spagnuolo & Company Real Estate Lawyers explains what you should look for when reading a title search in British Columbia.

How to read a Title Search

“Today we’re going to talk about how to read a title search, what the information is that’s on there that’s common anyway, we’re going to try and answer about 90, 95% of the questions we typically receive. But what we’ve done is we’ve created this title search. This just has our name as the lawyers who prepared the document, and use minister land title office, has as a title number, that kind of stuff.

View the title HERE

Really where you start paying attention is right here. This is a registered owner of the property. So if you’re a realtor going in for a listing, if you’re a mortgage broker for a finance, if you’re a first time buyer, these are the people that you’re dealing with. And if you’re not dealing with this person, you need to make some inquiries. You need to find out why not. Is there a power of attorney? Is it a family situation? Perhaps a probate, who knows? But, this is the person who is the registered owner. This may or may not be her address. We don’t really pay much attention to that to be honest, but we do pay attention to the registered owner.

Down below that we have the legal description of the property. Every property in this province has both a civic address and a legal address and when we’re dealing with the documents, we’re dealing with the legal description. Every property has a unique parcel identifier number. It’s a nine digit number. 

So that’s the doc. That’s the address that we use when we’re transferring title.

Luxury real estate

Charges, Liens & Interests

Now down below you see something called charges, liens and interests. And titles, they may be clear, in which case you’ll see nothing here, but more often than not they have some charges on there. And really there’s two types of charges.

Non-financial Charges

1) There’s non financial charges and 2) there’s financial charges. The non financial charges may be a covenant, an easement, a right of way, things like that. And those are non financial charges, no money owning under any of those things. But what they do is they give to various parties, certain rights to the property, hydro, [inaudible 00:02:13] in terms of utilities, perhaps a city or municipality, provincial government, could be a railway if you’re in Vancouver Island. And each of those parties has a certain right to the property, it may be a building scheme whereby if the house gets knocked down you have to build according to certain guidelines, it maybe a floodplain covenant.

The only way to really know is to order those from the land title office. And we encourage all our realtors and buyers to order these. Once they know they’re going to buy the property. It’s about $25 per charge, give or take, comes through the land title office. But we really think that those should be ordered before subject removal because it’s after subject removal it’s too late.

Financial Charges

So those are the non financial charges. Then we have financial charges. Those are mortgages, assignment of rents and judgments, perhaps, a certificate of pending litigation, a private mortgage, a builders lien. Those will be taken off on closing. If you’re a realtor helping someone buy the property, those would be discharged by the vendor.

If you’re a realtor taking a listing, make sure the vendor knows about those and make sure there’s enough equity to discharge those. Otherwise you have to negotiate with those parties and make sure you can get a discharge on closing.

So I think the two we have on here, a mortgage, assignment rents, both those with CIBC and those are very common mortgages with the big banks or credit unions. But we also specifically put a private mortgage on here. We use Mary Phillips as a fictitious name. If you’re a realtor helping a client buy the property, if you’re a realtor helping someone sell this property, make sure they know where Mary Phillips is and that they can get her signature on the discharge.

Oftentimes these are private, well these are private mortgages. Mary Phillips may be deceased. No one’s paid attention to her contact information. The clients may have paid that mortgage out years ago, Mary Phillips gave her a discharge or gave the clients a discharge and they forgot to register it. They didn’t know they had to register. It’s very common back in the day where people discharged, they wrote the cheque, they got a receipt saying mortgage paid in full, they got discharged, but they didn’t know that they had to register that at the land title office. So with private mortgages, you need to make sure that person is around and can sign a discharge.

Mortgage Rules

‘Duplicated’ in the Feasible Title

Down below you see duplicated in the feasible title. Don’t worry about this priority part. Your lawyer will take care of that on closing. If there’s any issues with the priority of charges. Transfers, pending applications, usually nothing much comes up there, but this is important. This duplicated infeasible title.

Once a year we’ll see a title search. This is, you know, after seeing 4 or 5,000 every year, where that’s issued to somebody back in the day, people didn’t grant a mortgage to a bank. They took out the duplicate and they gave it to the bank or to the lender as security. Very first deal we ever did with my dad’s house, my parents house in East Vancouver, they borrowed money from a bank. They got the discharge or the duplicate back from the bank. They didn’t know at the time. It wasn’t my fault. I wasn’t around at the time. But they didn’t know that they had to register that duplicate back at the land title office. So we had to go to court to get a new one. It was misplaced.

So if it does say issued and outstanding or does say who it’s given to, make sure that the clients can get that, make sure, especially if you’re a realtor trying to sell that property or a broker trying to refinance the property, that has to be accessible and it has to be put back in the land title office.

If not, it’s a court application. It’s fairly standard, but it takes weeks, if not months and several hundred thousands of dollars. So just make sure that’s there. That’s in a nutshell what you’re going to see on 90% of the title searches. I’m sure you have some questions or maybe specific things, development permit charges or things like that. Give us a call. Our contact information is BC real estate lawyers.com

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