Steps to Buying Property in New York: Step 2 Title Search

by | Jul 21, 2021 | Buying a Home in New York

As described in 5 Essential Steps to Buying Property in New York, I will be writing a series of more detailed articles about each of the 5 essential steps.

The first in this series covered the first step, reviewing your real estate contract, a link to this article can be found at the bottom of this blog. 

This next article covers the second step, which is the title search. To start with let’s look at what a title search is:

In real estate law, a title search or property title search is the process of examining public records and retrieving documents on the history of a piece of real property to determine and confirm the property’s legal ownership, and to investigate what claims or liens may be on the property.

The purpose of a title search is to ascertain that the property you are purchasing is being purchased from the legal owner and that there is nothing that would legally prohibit you from completing the purchase, or cause issues in the future.

For example, a title search ensures that there are no liens on the house, no judgments, no tax arrears, or other claims filed against the property itself.

The title search clears the home from anything that would adversely affect your ownership of the property, as well as its value.

Here are some guidelines about our title search process:

  • If you obtain title insurance and later, a claim is made against your property, your title insurance company will cover legal fees and related costs in order to defend the claim for as long as you own the property. A claim against the property includes, but is not limited to, a fraudulent purchase, collection on a prior lien or judgment, boundary issues, or the failure to satisfy a prior owner’s mortgage.
  • If you are getting a mortgage, whichever lender you choose will require that you obtain title insurance to insure that their new mortgage loan will be in the first lien position.
  • Title insurance is a one-time premium and the rate is regulated by the State of New York. That means all title companies charge the same fees for the insurance policy. The title insurance costs will be calculated into your loan estimate, from whichever lender you are working with.
  • The real estate contract should state that the sale is conditioned upon the seller transferring “good and marketable” title to the property. This means the sale will be done providing the property’s title is clean, and that the property is free from all judgments, mortgages, and any other liens or such that would impede you from taking full ownership of the property.

At Piccinnini Law, we will process and review the full title report upon receipt and will help protect you by sending any list of defects to the seller’s attorney to ensure any issues that require corrections are fixed.

We also follow up with the seller’s attorney to verify that any issues found are resolved quickly and properly, keeping you updated with progress and letting you know once the title is clear.


Our office will request any existing surveys from the seller to utilize in our title search. It should be noted that old or out-of-date surveys may not show accurate property lines and could affect the title or the premises. When dealing with an old survey report, we always encourage you to have a new property survey conducted to ensure the property is accurately delineated prior to our title search.

Once a title search has been completed and the property is free of any issues, the next step will be financing.

New York Real Estate Attorney

Annie Justice Piccinnini Law Senior Editor

Annie Justice
Senior Editor
Piccinnini Law
(516) 500-2110