Looking at Title Searches


Often times when you are entering into a real estate contract, we recommend ordering and reviewing a title search of the property in question before removing subjects on your contract. We can assist you with this process.


Below are some of the things you should look for on a title search:


1. Look at the registered owner – is this the person who is selling the property to you? If not, there could be a simple explanation, or it could also be indicative of fraud. Speak to us and/or your realtor about how to move forward. Note: the address of the registered owner may or may not match the address of the property you are purchasing. This is normal, especially if you are purchasing from a developer or investor.


2. Legal Description –each property in BC has a unique Parcel Identifier number and legal description. This is simply a description of the property that is unique and identifies it with the Land Title Office. This description will appear on all legal documents relating to this property.



3. Charges/Liens/Interest


a. Non-Financial Charges

These are charges that are registered on title that are not a result of money owing. These charges often remain on title of the property after a conveyance has taken place (ie. If you are buying a home and it has a charge on title, it will be on title after you become the registered owner). Because of this, we recommend ordering copies of all non-financial charges on title to ensure you are aware of what the charges entail. Common charges are: covenant, easement, statutory right of way, which often deal with rules and regulations on a property, such as building restrictions, hydro access, etc. These can be ordered from the Land Title Office directly or through our office.


b. Financial Charges

Financial charges are charges on title that must discharged when a property changes ownership.Common financial charges include mortgages, assignment of rents, builder’s liens and judgment. Ensure that these charges can be removed at the time of completion. As an example, if a judgment or lien is registered on title, the owner of the property will have to pay the creditor prior to the property being sold. If the owner is not in a position to do so, the completion may be delayed.


If you are looking at financial charges, many will be with large, recognizable banks. Often times, you will see a mortgage registered under a smaller company name or personal name. These are called “private mortgages”, and while they can be simple, some more due diligence should be carried out before entering into a contract. Ensure that a discharge of the mortgage can easily be obtained. We have encountered cases where a vendor has paid a private mortgage in full, but the discharge is never filed with the Land Title Office. Sometimes receiving another discharge is simple, but if the lender has passed away or cannot be found, the process of discharging the mortgage becomes lengthy and costly.


4. Duplicate Indefeasible Title - ideally, this will say “None”. Many years ago, as an action to prevent fraud or an alternative to registering a mortgage on title of a property, a title certificate could be taken out from the Land Title Office, and kept in a safety deposit box or given to a lender as security for a mortgage. If this is “issued and outstanding”, it means that it must be returned to the Land Title Office before anything (including a mortgage) can be registered on title, or the property can be sold.  If it has been lost or destroyed, a court application to replace it must be filed. Again, this is a relatively simple process, but is costly and can take several weeks.


If you do have any questions about anything you see on a title search, feel free to contact us for a consultation.


The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult a lawyer for individual advice regarding your own situation.

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