The “New” Industry of Title Search Abstracting

I have been a Title Search Abstractor for the past 25 years and most of our abstractors have been searching for even longer than that.  I hear all the time that we are in a dying industry.  Title Search Companies are closing left and right in Connecticut.  Independent Abstractors are leaving the industry trying to start over in a State that is one of the most expensive in the country to live.  Why?

Years ago, a title search was the first thing that was ordered in the mortgage process.  The bank needed to see what encumbrances were on the property before they even gave a pre-approval.  Today, in our fast paced world the title search is the last piece that is ordered in the process, and abstractors are given 24 hours to complete their search and get it over to their client with 100% perfection.  Some clients want 6 hour turn time on their orders.

Yes, the electronic age has pushed that along as many of our 169 towns are online in various portals.  But are they correct?  Two owner searches are being ordered in lieu of full searches on purchase deals.  Abstractors are rushing to “just get it done” so they keep their clients happy so they wont go elsewhere because there is no loyalty as there was 25 years ago.

Pricing and speed is all that is a factor in this new industry.  Title Searches are being sent overseas and cutting out the “true abstractor”.  The sad truth is that title searches are being done online in as far as India.  Then when they can’t get that copy of a certain deed because it goes back too far, doc retrievals are being ordered.

Now, we all know that Connecticut is quite a different state than most when it comes to title searching.  We are town based, in fact all 169 towns in Connecticut house their own land records and for the most part they are not consistent with each other.  Vaults are set up differently, various software systems are used and some Town Clerk’s offices do not record water liens and sewer liens on the land records.  Probate Death Certificates are no longer allowed to be recorded on the land records.  Probate Court, State UCC’s, Foreclosures all have to be searched in different locations.

One may say, how are these companies that are not located in Connecticut doing a proper title search?  Because, they simply are not.

This Country barely made it through a major mortgage crisis with the banks and I predict within the next five years there will be another major crisis within the title industry.  I see it already.  Title issues with missed liens, missed mortgages because electronic indexing may not be correct.   I see releases recorded as assignments and assignments recorded as releases, missing chains in assignments.  It’s sloppy and scary.

Connecticut State Standards of Title require a complete 40 year search on a purchase.  What happened to this?  Why are these companies allowed to complete 2 owner searches in lieu of the 40 year?  It comes down to money.

Do they realize that on a 2 owner search Easements are not being searched?  It isn’t required.  The poor homeowner isn’t knowledgeable enough to know, they simply trust their attorney that it is being done correctly.  But what happens when a utility company comes along and digs up the front of their yard or even a portion of their back yard because they can?  Someone is going to have to pay.  Is it worth saving $50.00 on a title search upfront?  Are the title companies willing to just gamble?

I’m very saddened by this industry right now and scared.  We have lowered our prices and standards to a point where it’s embarrassing for an abstractor who is a true professional to accept it.  Where do we go from here?  Does India keep reducing their prices?  I know companies that are doing current owner searches for 18.00 a search.  How is a proper title search with quality done at that price?  They aren’t, title searches are being pumped out like a factory why are Connecticut Abstractor’s allowing this?

What I do know is that The State of Connecticut residents deserve better.  They deserve quality in lieu of saving $50.00.  I’m sure if a survey was done the State of Connecticut Residents would choose the old time quality title search abstractor over what this “new industry” is offering them now.

 

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