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Question and Answer

  • General Questions

  • General Questions

    Q: What is an Abstract?
    A: An abstract is a history of the title to a particular tract of land. It is not a title! It consists of a summary of the material parts of recorded instruments affecting the title of the real estate. So even if you lose your abstract, you still own your property.
    Q: What is a Title?

    A title is the evidence, or right, that a person has to the ownership and possession of land. It is possible that someone other than the owner has a legal right to the property. If that right can be established, this person can claim the property outright or make demands on the owner as to its use.

    Q: What is a Title Opinion?
    A: A title opinion is a legal examination of the abstract. In the state of Iowa, only an attorney may outline the necessary requirements in order to obtain a clear title. This document will also list any cautions to the buyer or refinancer of all current restrictions of the property.
    Q: I want to cut costs. Do I even need an abstract or attorney's opinion?
    A: Purchasing real estate is likely to be the largest investment you will ever make. Thus, you want to be assured that the property you are buying will be yours. Other than your lender, no one else should have any claims or restrictions against your home and an abstract will notify you of any possible problems. The Abstractor - Attorney relationship is very important as they are able to find and resolve hidden risks which would never have been disclosed with online record searches or even the most meticulous searches of the courthouse records.

    Some examples of those hidden risks are:

    • Forgery
    • Fraud in connection with execution of documents
    • Undue influence on a grantor or executor
    • False impersonation by those purporting to be owners of property
    • Incorrect representation of the marital status of grantor
    • Undisclosed or missing heirs
    • Wills not properly probated
    • Mistaken interpretation of wills and trusts
    • Mental incompetence of grantor
    • Conveyance by a minor
    • Birth of heirs subsequent to date of will
    • Inadequate surveys
    • Incorrect legal descriptions
    • Non-delivery of deeds
    • Unsatisfied claims not shown on record
    • Deeds executed under expired or false powers of attorney
    • Confusion due to similar or identical names
    • Dower rights of ex-spouses of former owners
    • Incorrect indexing
    • Clerical errors in recording legal documents
    • Delivery of deeds after death of grantor

    Don't think that these issues don't occur in Grundy County!
    Community Title Company has encountered countless real estate transactions with these types of issues, and then we worked with the realtor, attorney and lender to resolve these situations. Community Title Company is here to protect you and your investment. 
    Q: What is the cost of an abstract and who pays?
    A: The price of an abstract is determined by the valuation of the property and the number of court cases which must be shown to prove title. We do not charge by the number of entries. Iowa law requires us to prove 40 years of marketable title, which is why many older transactions must be shown in the abstract. Thus, if the abstract has not been continued for 30 years, chances are there will be more court files, deeds, mortgages which will need to be shown. Court files are foreclosures, estates, dissolutions, guardianships, conservatorships, trusts and judgments. If the abstract is more current, the charge is likely to be less. The cost of the abstract is usually paid by the seller as the seller must prove they legally hold title. The second continuation to show the deed and the buyer's mortgage is typically the buyer's expense.
    Q: I can't find my abstract. What do I do?
    A: First, you need to call Community Title Company. We will help you find your abstract for FREE. We maintain an internal tracking system which tells the date of last continuation and, with more recent transactions, the party to whom we delivered the last updated abstract. Community Title Company does not store or maintain the original abstracts, so will not have your original abstract. Common locations for missing abstracts are safe deposit boxes, private safes, your attorney or lender's office or in the possession of former spouses. If you refinanced within the last 10 years with an out-of-state lender, there is a great possibility that they destroyed your abstract. We have found that many of these lenders did not understand Iowa real estate law and the requirement of 40-years of marketable title in the form of an abstract.
    Q: My abstract is officially lost. How do I get another one?
    A: If you are working with a realtor, lender, or attorney, you need to notify them immediately with this information. A new abstract of title will have to be ordered, and Community Title Company will build a 40-year title for your party. This is typically more expensive then continuing your original abstract, as we will need to research all transactions regarding your property for the required 40-year time period.
    Q: My closing statement has a charge for title insurance. What is this?
    A: Title Insurance is a contract to indemnify against losses arising through defects in the title to real estate. Most home buyers are unaware that they are paying for their mortgage lender's title insurance policy. Many lenders require the buyer to pay for it as a condition of getting the loan. However, Title insurance is an illegal product if it is written within the state of Iowa. Your lender may request title insurance if they plan to sell your mortgage to the secondary market. Typically, consumers are told that they have to purchase a title insurance policy, and told which company to use to obtain the policy. As the consumer, you have a choice. Instead of title insurance, you may request Title Guaranty which is a division of the state's Iowa Finance Authority. It is similar to a title insurance policy, but it requires the abstract to be updated and for an attorney to examine the abstract. All proceeds from the Title Guaranty is kept in the State of Iowa and is used for housing programs. Iowa Title Guaranty policies are fully accepted on the secondary market.
    Q: I want to divide my property. How do I do this?
    A: Land divisions are often tricky situations. We advise you to contact the Grundy County Auditor at 319-824-3122 for the latest zoning and parcel regulations.
    Q: I don't want something in my abstract. Can you remove something so that my buyer won't see it?
    A: No. All documents which are of public record that affect the titleholder or real estate must, by law, be shown in the 40-year marketable title for your property. If you have filed bankruptcy or are divorced, it is very probable your case information will be shown. However, you may find it comforting knowing that abstractors condense the court case information in order to show the attorney only the relevant documentation – property transfers, child support, liens, property restrictions, etc…
    Q: Is my client's child support payments up-to-date?
    A: Child support can be a lien on the property. However, the Clerk of Court will not certify as to child support payment status which in turn prevents us from knowing the date the last payment was made, total payments remaining, number of payments delinquent, etc. We do provide an in-depth case review in order to determine child support issues and modifications. Community Title Company always notes potential child support liens in the abstract and the attorney involved in the transaction will be the one able to verify the payment history and status for you.

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