Carrying out a title search is a vital step for property developers. But it doesn’t help to only know how and when to conduct a title search. You also need to know what information it shows, and how this can influence your development plans for any property.

What Is a Title Search?

A title search is a simple process that provides you with access to information about the ownership and history of a property, and a bit more. It is a vital step that should be completed before you purchase any property, regardless of whether you want to redevelop the property or not. That is because it can reveal information that is not immediately apparent but could have a significant impact on your plans for the property. This includes:

  • Who the property owners are. You want to know that the person selling the property actually owns it and is entitled to sell it. If there are multiple owners, a title search will show this, along with whether they are tenants in common or joint tenants. With joint tenants—typically couples—both owners need to agree to sell the property. With tenants in common, any owner can sell their portion of the property. Depending on the size of the portion—and the structure of the property—this would not be suitable for developers.
  • If there is a mortgage associated with the property. Naturally, if a property is under mortgage, the lender is listed as the title holder. When there is a mortgage involved, it is essential that the seller discharges it before settlement, otherwise you could face significant delays.
  • The type of property title. Torrens titles or freehold titles are the most common type of property title in Australia. Unlike a strata title, here the title holder owns the entire property. This includes any structures and the land. With strata titles, the title holder only owns the area inside a unit, such as a townhouse or apartment. All other space on the property are usually common areas, which are shared by all owners. With Torrens or freehold titles, you can alter or develop any parts of the property, with council approval. With strata titles, you can only alter what is within the unit.
  • Any easements or rights of use on the property. Even if you own all the land the property sits on, any easements or rights of use associated with the property can limit how you develop or redevelop the property. Easements can be removed or varied, but this could again cause delays to your development.
  • Whether any caveats have been issued on the property. Caveats should always be viewed as a red flag, since it indicates that other parties have an interest in the property.
  • If there are covenants for the property. While more common in new estates, covenants can also be found with properties in neighbourhoods wanting to retain a certain look or character. Covenants aren’t necessarily a bad thing, though they can hamper certain types of developments.

How To Get a Title Search

Each State and Territory has their own system for carrying out a title search online:

Alternatively, the Archistar property development platform also allows title searches for Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. In some instances, searches through government websites won’t include all the information you need. If this happens, you might have to use the services of a professional title searcher to carry out a more comprehensive search.

The cost of title searches varies depending on the service used. Though the cost is very reasonable, especially when compared to the potential risks you may face if you don’t conduct a title search.

The ability to perform title searches from within the Archistar platform makes it even more indispensable for serious property developers. From finding the perfect property, all the way through to preparing documents for your development application without having to switch from one program to another. Still not using Archistar? Schedule a free demo to see how Archistar can benefit you.

In conclusion, conducting a title search is an essential step for property developers in Australia to mitigate risks and ensure that a property is suitable for development. By understanding what a title search is, why it’s important, and how to get one, property developers can make informed decisions and protect their investments. So, if you’re planning to develop a property in Australia, make sure you get a title search first!