Titles are easily searchable through government and third-party websites. A title search offers information that lets a potential buyer know the history of a house, if it has liens or encumbrances, or if a vehicle has a salvage title. While a vehicle title search is relatively inexpensive, an Indiana home title search can get costly, particularly if a title insurance company or a real estate attorney conducts the search.
State of Indiana BMV Title and Lien Search
Indiana residents can search 24/7 for a vehicle's title through the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) using its online database. They will have to open an account with the BMV to do so. What they find will let them know whether or not they should move forward with the financing, sale or purchase of a car.
Users can look for vehicle title and lien information by using a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or a Social Security number. The database includes salvage titles, required in Indiana for vehicles manufactured within the last seven years that have incurred damage or wreckage. A title search costs $5 per record to subscribers of the Record Search database and $16.32 per record to nonsubscribers. A title search yields certain information:
- Title number.
- Branch number.
- Last action.
- Purchase date.
- Issuance date.
- Out-of-state title information.
- Vehicle make, type, model and brand.
- Odometer information.
- Title and damage brand.
- First and second lien information.
Title Search for Vehicles through the NMVTIS
The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is a nationwide database of providers that gives prospective car buyers pertinent information about a vehicle's history and condition. Providers include car recyclers, junk and salvage yards, state titling agencies and insurance carriers.
The NMVTIS keeps a record of the brands that a state will apply to a damaged car, such as "junk," "flood," or "salvage." This information helps protect consumers from buying a vehicle without the seller disclosing its actual condition.
Vehicles Declared a Total Loss
When a state's DMV deems a car to be a total loss, it typically has sustained severe damage. When someone is unaware of its brand history, they may pay more than its true value or buy a vehicle that is not roadworthy. Knowing whether a vehicle has been declared a total loss helps buyers avoid purchasing a potentially dangerous car.
The cost for an NMVTIS report varies from provider to provider, but typically ranges between $8 to $13. If a person cannot find their vehicle through an NMVTIS provider, it likely means they have a clean title.
What a Real Property Title Search Shows
A real property title allows an owner to sell or transfer property to others or use it however they wish. A title search involves researching a property title's history from a county records office. This is usually carried out by a real estate attorney, escrow office or title insurance company. A title search might examine these documents:
- Court records.
- Name or property indexes.
- Other types of real estate documents.
A title search confirms that a seller of real property is its legal owner and that it does not have an encumbrance that could lessen its value or subject the purchaser to legal liability. It ensures that a property is free and clear of all obligations, and no one else has a claim on it due to unpaid dues, lawsuits or other circumstances. Some examples of property title defects are:
- Mortgage or unreleased lien attached to a property.
- Pending probate issues.
- Foreclosure actions.
- Fraudulent or forged title.
- Errors or defects in the chain of title.
Searches by Title Insurance Company or County Records
Title insurance companies insure against losses resulting from a property's title defects. A title insurance policy protects the owner against disputes over property ownership.
For example, if there's a clerical mistake in a property's ownership record or the property has a lien for unpaid taxes, the policy covers the individual's ownership claim or even reimburses them for the cost of the home. Indiana combines a property title search and insurance policy into a flat fee of $400 to $700.
Indiana residents can also search property records online through their county court. For example, the Marion County Recorder's Office has an online database that allows people to view publicly recorded information. The Property Report Card from the county assessor's office can yield information on a property's title.
Using a Title Search Company
A title search company licensed in Indiana can also help people find information on a property title. It typically gives a full review of all recorded documents regarding a property, including easements, liens, sell-offs, legal drawings, surveys, chain of title, taxes and civil judgments in the county where the property is located.
Title search companies charge a fee for their services. For example, the Regional Land Title Company with offices across Indiana charges $225 to $300 to conduct a title search.
Hiring a Lawyer to Conduct a Title Search
A person who wants to buy a property can hire a real estate attorney to perform a title search for them. The Indiana State Bar Association has its own search engine, allowing individuals to find real estate attorneys across the state.
Also, if a person has problems with a title after acquiring it, a real estate attorney can help defend them against any attacks on that title. They can also hold a seller accountable for damages that a new buyer may face due to errors.
- myDMV.com: Welcome to myBMV
- IN.gov: Services Price List
- Free Vin Search: Indiana VIN Search
- NMVTIS: Understanding an NMVTIS Vehicle History Report
- NMVTIS: Frequently Asked Questions
- Legal Match: Title Search Lawyers
- List With Clever: Indiana Buyer Closing Costs: How Much Will You Pay?
- Marion County Recorder's Office: Search
- Indy.Gov: Property Report Card
- Regional Land And Title: Fees
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.