Title Examiners, Abstractors, and Searchers

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Also known as: Abstract Searcher, Abstract Writer, Advisory Title Officer, Escrow Officer, Land Title Examiner, Lease Examiner, Lien Searcher, Title Agent, Title Checker, Title Examiner


Career Video transcript
Every time someone buys or sells real estate, a clear title to the property must be proved so that the transaction can proceed legally. Title examiners, abstractors, and searchers are like real estate detectives.

Examiners search public records and examine titles to determine a property's legal condition. They copy or summarize recorded documents, such as mortgages, trust deeds, and contracts that might affect the title to the property. They might also prepare and issue a policy that guarantees the title's legality. An abstractor summarizes legal or insurance information, including section of law from reference books that could bear on the property title. Searchers investigate real estate records, examine titles, or summarize legal or insurance details for a variety of purposes.

Often, one person handles these three tasks. The title examiner, abstractor and searcher can be self-employed or work for a title search and guarantee firm. You need a high school or associate degree, good research and investigation skills, and an understanding of legal terms. Most training is on-the-job with experienced workers. Title examiners, abstractors, and searchers perform an important piece of millions of transactions every year.
What they do
Search real estate records, examine titles, or summarize pertinent legal or insurance documents or details for a variety of purposes. May compile lists of mortgages, contracts, and other instruments pertaining to titles by searching public and private records for law firms, real estate agencies, or title insurance companies.


Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict

Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Obtain maps or drawings delineating properties from company title plants, county surveyors, and/or assessors' offices.

Confer with realtors, lending institution personnel, buyers, sellers, contractors, surveyors, and courthouse personnel in order to exchange title-related information or to resolve problems.

Read search requests in order to ascertain types of title evidence required and to obtain descriptions of properties and names of involved parties.

Enter into recordkeeping systems appropriate data needed to create new title records or update existing ones.

Verify accuracy and completeness of land-related documents accepted for registration; prepare rejection notices when documents are not acceptable.

Direct activities of workers who search records and examine titles, assigning, scheduling, and evaluating work, and providing technical guidance as necessary.

Prepare lists of all legal instruments applying to a specific piece of land and the buildings on it.

Copy or summarize recorded documents, such as mortgages, trust deeds, and contracts, that affect property titles.

Prepare reports describing any title encumbrances encountered during searching activities, and outlining actions needed to clear titles.

Examine documentation such as mortgages, liens, judgments, easements, plat books, maps, contracts, and agreements in order to verify factors such as properties' legal descriptions, ownership, or restrictions.

Examine individual titles in order to determine if restrictions, such as delinquent taxes, will affect titles and limit property use.

Daily Tasks
Main Activities
Interacting With Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

Processing Information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Analyzing Data or Information
Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.

Performing Administrative Activities
Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.

Communicating with Persons Outside Organization
Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Knowledge of administrative and clerical procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

English Language
Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Communications and Media
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

Knowledge Areas
Main Activities
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

Speech Recognition
The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Time Management
Managing one's own time and the time of others.

Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Knowledge Areas
Average Salary
$43,330 per year
Medium   [more info]
Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.

Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Career Traits
Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


Work Experience

Expected On the Job Training