We Rebranded! InspectHOA is now Rexera

Request Demo

How to Find Errors in Public Property Records: Tips for Title Agents

Published: Feb 20, 2024
Last Edited: Feb 26, 2024
by Editorial team
blog

“To err is human…” the famous quote goes, and errors in public records are not uncommon issues. 

But as public records are integral to title searches, title agents can’t afford incorrect property records to go unnoticed, or else they risk sidetracking the closing. Any errors or discrepancies in these records can lead to delays, legal issues, and financial losses for all parties involved.

Let’s look at public records, the errors that title agents might encounter in them, and which are some smart approaches to dealing with property records errors. 

What Are Errors in Public Records?

Incorrect property records encompass a wide array of clerical mistakes, omissions, and discrepancies found in official documents and databases maintained by government entities. 

These errors can be present in various records, including property deeds, land surveys, tax assessments, zoning records, court filings, and vital records. 

Title agents play a crucial role in identifying and addressing these errors to ensure that incorrect public property records do not hinder the closing process and property transactions.

Types of Public Records and the Issues They Can Cause for Title Agents

a metal filing cabinet with mini files inside

When conducting thorough title searches title agents must navigate through various property public records, each holding critical information about the property’s ownership, legal status, and compliance with regulations. 

Here’s how each of the types of public records impacts title agents’ work. 

1. Property Deeds

Property deeds are legal documents that transfer ownership of real estate from one party to another. They contain detailed information about the property, including the names of the old and new owners, legal descriptions, and any restrictions or covenants.

Issues for Title Agents: Inaccuracies in property deeds can lead to disputes over ownership, boundary lines, or encumbrances, potentially delaying or complicating property transactions.

2. Land Surveys

Land surveys provide detailed information about the boundaries, dimensions, and physical features of a property. They are crucial for identifying property lines and easements.

Issues for Title Agents: Errors in land surveys, such as incorrect boundary markers or missing easement information, can lead to boundary disputes and legal challenges for title agents.

3. Property Tax Records

Property tax records contain information about the assessed value of the property, property taxes owed, and any tax exemptions or assessments.

Issues for Title Agents: Inaccuracies in property tax records, such as incorrect property assessments or unpaid taxes, can impact the property’s financial status and lead to disputes over tax liabilities.

4. Zoning Records

Zoning records detail the legal land use regulations and restrictions imposed by local governments, including property zoning designations and permitted land uses.

Issues for Title Agents: Errors in zoning records can result in non-compliance with land use regulations, affecting property development rights and potentially causing delays in property transactions.

5. Mortgage and Lien Records

Mortgage and lien records document any outstanding loans, mortgages, or liens against the property, as well as the release of such encumbrances.

Issues for Title Agents: Inaccurate or missing mortgage and lien records can lead to disputes over property encumbrances and financial obligations. The missing information or errors in these records slow down and even prevent title transfers. 

6. Building Permits and Code Violations

Building permits and code violation records provide information about permitted construction activities, building code compliance, and any violations on the property.

Issues for Title Agents: Unpermitted construction or unresolved code violations can affect the property’s legal status and marketability, potentially complicating property transactions.

7. Easements and Right-of-Way Records

Easement and right-of-way records outline any rights granted to third parties to use or access the property, such as utility easements or public right-of-way.

Issues for Title Agents: Errors in easement records can lead to disputes over property access and usage rights, impacting the property’s market value and legal status.

The 16 Most Common Public Property Records Errors

red edge of skyscraper on blue gradient -types of liens article

To help you stay vigilant as you conduct title searches, here is a checklist of the most common public property records errors you might encounter. 

  1. Misspellings and Incorrect Personal Information
    • This error involves inaccuracies in personal details such as names and addresses in property records.
  2. Recording Errors
    • Recording errors refer to mistakes or inaccuracies made during the process of documenting and registering real estate transactions.
  3. Incorrect Legal Descriptions
    • This error encompasses inaccuracies in legal descriptions of properties, which can lead to confusion over property boundaries and ownership.
  4. Missing or Inaccurate Liens
    • This error includes the absence or inaccuracy of recorded liens against a property, which can impact its ownership and transfer.
  5. Ownership Discrepancies
    • Ownership discrepancies refer to inconsistencies or inaccuracies in records related to property ownership.
  6. Incomplete Property Records
    • Incomplete property records refer to missing or insufficient documentation related to a property’s history and legal status.
  7. Errors in Property Tax Assessment
    • This error involves inaccuracies in the assessment of property taxes, impacting the financial obligations on the property.
  8. Unrecorded Easements or Right-of-Ways
    • Unrecorded easements or right-of-ways refer to instances where these property rights are not properly documented.
  9. Incorrect Property Boundary Descriptions
    • This error involves inaccuracies in the legal descriptions of property boundaries.
  10. Undisclosed Environmental Issues
    • This error concerns the lack of disclosure of environmental issues that can affect the property’s value and use.
  11. Inaccurate Property Ownership Records
    • This error refers to inaccuracies in the records pertaining to property ownership.
  12. Unreleased or Incorrect Mortgage Documents
    • Unreleased or incorrect mortgage documents refer to issues related to the recording or accuracy of mortgage-related paperwork.
  13. Missing or Incomplete Building Permits
    • This error involves the absence or inadequacy of permits related to the construction or alteration of a property.
  14. Errors in Property Appraisal Reports
    • Errors in property appraisal reports refer to inaccuracies in the assessment of a property’s value.
  15. Inconsistent Zoning Records
    • Inconsistent zoning records involve discrepancies or inaccuracies in the records related to a property’s zoning classification.
  16. Inaccurate Flood Zone Designations
    • This error involves inaccuracies in the classification of a property’s susceptibility to flooding.

Finding Errors: A Three-Step Approach

white building roof and orange escape stairs- types of liens article

Any inaccuracies and errors can lead to complications, delays, and potential financial and legal consequences, jeopardizing the property’s closing. 

To ensure the title of the property is clear of any potential legal disputes, title agents have to research the property’s public property records diligently and quickly deal with any errors they may encounter. 

Here’s a three-step approach that can help you find public property records.

Step 1: Compare the Documents

One of the most effective ways to spot errors is by comparing property-related documents side by side. 

For instance, you can compare the information from different sources like the Property Appraiser and the Property Tax Collector. Here’s what you need to check:

  1. Owner’s Name: Ensure that the owner’s name matches in all documents. Keep in mind that names can be recorded under different variations, so be thorough in your checks.
  2. Address: Verify the situs address against other documents. Pay attention to minor details such as street directional usage and spelling.
  3. Legal Description: Inspect the legal description in detail. Cross-verify the square footage, parcel ID, and other details with other records.

Step 2: Verify when the Information was Last Updated

The date of information update on public records can be a valuable clue. Property characteristics, assessment, and tax data are typically updated annually but not always at the same time. Therefore, compare the dates of the last updates across different records to ensure consistency.

Step 3: Apply the GIS (Geographic Information System)


GIS, a mapping software, is designed to automate geographic concepts and is applied in various industries, including Real Estate. It offers more geographical insight for real property data analysis than standard assessment pages.

Counties typically grant public access to a GIS database via their Assessor’s or Tax Collector’s website. There, you can find comprehensive property information:

  • Property boundaries and ownership
  • Zoning and land use info
  • Tax assessment details
  • Historical records
  • Floodplain maps
  • Infrastructure data
  • Aerial views
  • Transaction history
  • Neighborhood characteristics

Identifying Errors in Public Property Records with Technology 

incorrect property records

To mitigate the risk of incorrect property records, title agents have to conduct a comprehensive verification. They need to pay particular attention to every detail and often collaborate with legal professionals or real estate agents to ensure the title is clear of any errors. 

That takes time and resources, both of which are often scarce. Not to forget, the more information you have to process, the more likely you are to miss something vital. 

And where does that take you? Back to square one, having to fix another error. 

To help streamline and speed up the process, you can leverage technology

Integrating advanced technologies and software solutions designed for property record analysis and verification can significantly enhance the efficiency of finding public property records errors. 

These tools leverage automation, data analytics, and machine learning algorithms to analyze large volumes of property records swiftly, flag potential discrepancies, and streamline the verification process. 

So, if you’re looking for a way to expedite checking public records, finding and resolving errors, and ultimately facilitating smoother and more efficient real estate transactions, tech tools can help you.  

Technology not only accelerates error spotting but strengthens the overall accuracy and reliability of public property records, benefiting both title agents and their clients.

Fixing Incorrect Public Records

Once an error has been identified, the next step is to fix it. The process usually involves the recording of a corrective deed that rectifies the specific error and reaffirms the property transfer mentioned in the original deed. For minor errors, a scrivener’s affidavit can be used. 

However, these processes can be time-consuming and delay the transaction. As a title agent, your best action is to spot and address these errors as early as possible in the transaction process and discuss the next step of resolving them with your clients. 

Conclusion

colorful houses in line, suburbs

By implementing these proactive measures and leveraging the right resources, title agents can effectively identify and address incorrect property records. This not only helps to ensure the integrity of the title search process but also contributes to a successful and hassle-free property closing experience for title agents and their customers.

Embracing technological solutions alongside meticulous attention to detail and collaboration with relevant professionals can empower you to navigate the complexities of public property records with greater efficiency and accuracy.  

Ultimately, your dedication to the process will foster confidence and trust in your professional capabilities to navigate real estate transactions. 

And if you’d like to keep leveraging real estate insights into your work, subscribe to Rexera’s blog. We share tips and guides and compile all the information real estate professionals need to stay at the top of their game in one place.

tw fb link tg whatsappp

Rexera in the News

n1 n1 n1 n1 n1 n1 n1 n1
Proud members of
p1 p1 p1 p1 p1 p1 p1 p1 p1
What our clients say about us?
rev1
Katie Zorn, Ambassador, Hankin & Pack
linked website
I couldn't do my job without you
You all rock! Seriously. I do see all the hard work you guys do. This job isn't easy. I couldn't do my job without you guys so I mean it when I say YOU ROCK!
Katie Zorn, Ambassador, Hankin & Pack
rev1
Brad Honn, Senior Director of Escrow and Title Operations, Homeward
linked website
Worry-free closings
“As we all know, HOA issues can really blow up and cause a lot of problems for closing. So it helps us all sleep better knowing that there is not going to be a problem, or anything we forgot on the order, or an update that we forgot to complete before closing the transaction. Because we have a great partner Rexera (formerly InspectHOA), making sure that those things don’t happen to us.”
Brad Honn, Senior Director of Escrow and Title Operations, Homeward
rev1
Kacie McAteer, Vice President, Ideal Title Agency
linked website
They always go the extra mile
"Rexera (formerly InspectHOA) is simply above the rest when it comes to our HOA needs. Their portal is perfect, their communication is constant, and they always go the extra mile in order to meet our deadlines and impress our customers. I would highly recommend them to everyone in the title insurance industry. Thank you Rexera for all that you do!"
Kacie McAteer, Vice President, Ideal Title Agency
rev1
Lori, Escrow Support Supervisor
A huge win for us
"Your team discovered the lien and let us know so we were able to get the payoff statement. We were also able to revisit the research and find the recorded lien.

This is a huge win for us – so THANK YOU for all you do!"
Lori, Escrow Support Supervisor
rev1
Diana Casella, Ideal Title
website
A vendor that cares
"We’ve only been working with you all for a little while, but so far my team is singing nothing but praise and relief at finally having a Vendor that cares about these files as much as we do. "
Diana Casella, Ideal Title
rev1
Michelle Rose, Partner, Closing Day Settlements
linked website
Number #1 for efficiency
"I highly Recommend Marina Hubenova and sending all orders to Rexera (formerly InspectHOA). I love sending all my orders through their client portal or in Qualia. They are number #1 with efficiency and detailed reports. I never think twice on placing my orders with them. "
Michelle Rose, Partner, Closing Day Settlements
rev1
Shawna Hernandez, Director of Escrow Operations, Endpoint
linked website
A partner for innovation
"We are constantly tweaking and refining our processes, so we needed a reliable partner that would go along this journey with us. And Rexera (formerly InspectHOA) is exactly that."
Shawna Hernandez, Director of Escrow Operations, Endpoint
rev1
Cristina Sadler, Escrow Officer, TransCounty
linked website
A way to take back control
“I was worried the job wouldn’t get done, but it always gets done! It’s worth it; it’s beyond worth it!"
Cristina Sadler, Escrow Officer, TransCounty
rev1
Scott Young, EasyKnock
linked website
A solution to a historical problem
"Rexera (formerly InspectHOA) has been an instrumental partner in mitigating risk and creating efficiencies in our acquisition process. They are the solution to a historical problem that title companies and other vendors face in every transaction."
Scott Young, EasyKnock
You will hear from us soon








    You will hear from us soon