Basically, for the last twenty years I searched real estate titles for a living. In the beginning my work required that I travel from courthouse to courthouse searching for mortgages, judgments, financing statements and ownership of land parcels. Some of the book’s entries were still being handwritten or typed. I loved going to the different courthouses. Most of the courthouses I visited in Virginia and Georgia were small with a family-like air. Everyone knew everyone and it was wonderful.
So much changed in the last 15 years and I don’t just mean going from book to typewriters to computers to logging onto your computer at home to access courthouse records. I noticed that when I first started searching that the banks requested full title searches. That means that I had to search the ownership of a piece of land for 60 years. And in many cases, if I had searched the title for 60 years and the last deed I found was not a general warranty deed, I had to go back even further. Sometimes I searched the title in one county and had to go to another to finish because the county had been cut off from another county.
The majority of my work was coming out of subdivisions. So eventually they start asking for the title just to start from the time of the development of the subdivision. Then they started asking for only a two owner search and then eventually the one owner search. These were especially for the people that were refinancing.
I also noticed that for the majority of the landowners that I searched had only one mortgage and very rarely a judgment against the property and the taxes were almost always up to date. We also checked judgments against a buyer of the property. And for the most part, I never found anything against the buyers which I found normal considering that the bank orders the title search when the loan has been approved. So how could the loan be approved, if the buyer had judgments against him. Approximately eight or nine years ago, many title examiners started getting requests in which all the people had judgments against them and they were barely out of bankruptcy. I would report them and, lo and behold, the loan still went through. I told my husband at that time that my title searching days would soon be over. I was helping close loans for different companies. They were giving loans for 120% of the value of the property, the loans were adjustable, and many of the buyers had less than desirable credit. It was only a matter of time.
Last, but not definitely the least, title examiners were popping up everywhere. They were undercutting all the fees that were set up. I had companies wanting me to do titles for less than $30.00. Now most women have manicures and pedicures that take little over an hour and they pay $75.00. We pay people to cut small lawns for $40.00 to 60.00. They come in and cut my lawn and walk away in less than 45 minutes with $50.00 in their pocket. These are the same people that want a title examiner to check for clouds of title on the property. Probably the biggest investment of their life and they want to pay less than what they would pay to have their nails done. So needless to say many of the old school title examiners that will not compromise and throw a title together are no longer in business.
So the bubble finally popped about three years ago and it came to a halt about two years ago. I found business working on foreclosure titles, but even that slowed down.
So now I am blogging about what I love best- reading and history. I am not complaining about the computers either. They are such wonderful tools. Everyone can be at home, a library, a internet station and talk and share with anyone around the world. Genealogist now can contact other countries and their records. There are books on kindle and google that are minimal in price. You can search the books for reference of your family. There are cemetery records, land and Will records. I can’t wait until the day when I can access all the old courthouse records on the computer. But I still will miss the days when I would drive through the countryside, step into those lovely record rooms and touch those handwritten documents. I can still smell the paper.