Education and Training High school mandatory, along with training; college preferred
Salary Average—$39,420 per year
Employment Outlook Fair
Definition and Nature of the Work
Title examiners search, analyze, and evaluate records on titles to land, homes, and other buildings. They make sure that the title to a property is free of restrictions that may affect its sale or use. The findings of a title search and examination are needed to issue title insurance, grant mortgage loans, buy and sell property, acquire rights of way, and obtain and protect mineral rights.
Titles are documents that show evidence of ownership to a piece of property. Local government agencies and other organizations keep these records. Title examiners search for copies of these records and other documents, including vital statistics and street and land map books, to determine the legal status of a title. Entry-level employees known as title searchers often assist title examiners in their investigation.
Title examiners verify ownership and the legal description of a property and check for zoning ordinances that may restrict the use of the property. They copy or abstract required information from documents such as mortgages and trust deeds. Sometimes they rely on title abstractors to do this work.
Having gathered this information, the title examiner then reviews the data and submits a report on the title to the property. If any problems—such as the existence of unpaid property taxes—are identified, the title examiner will meet with the client to discuss the findings of the report.
Some title examiners are also involved in preparing official descriptions of properties. They may assist in the preparation of leases, grants, deeds, and easements. Examiners who are employed by title insurance companies prepare and issue the policies that guarantee the legality of a title.
Education and Training Requirements
Individuals interested in becoming title examiners must have a high school diploma. Most employers prefer to hire applicants with at least two years of college. A bachelor's degree is recommended. Useful college courses include law, business administration, real estate, banking, finance, and mathematics. Generally, to qualify for title examiner positions, candidates must have two to four years of experience in title searching and abstracting. Some large companies provide their own training programs for people wishing to become title examiners.
Getting the Job
Most title examiners begin by gaining experience in title searching and abstracting. Potential employees can apply directly to title companies, real estate agencies, mortgage companies, land development corporations, and oil companies for entry level positions. Applicants interested in a job with local, state, or federal government agencies can obtain information from local, state, or federal civil service agencies. Students can also obtain information about job openings from their school placement office. Openings are often listed on Internet job sites and in newspaper want ads as well.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Many title examiners begin by working as title clerks, abstractors, and title searchers. With experience they may become title examiners and senior title examiners. Senior examiners are responsible for complex title searches or those that involve large amounts of money. Some title examiners become managers and administrators responsible for assigning title examinations to different examiners.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of title examiners was expected to grow more slowly than the average for all jobs between 2004 and 2014. Positions will become available as people retire or leave the field.
Many title examiners work independently; others have title searchers and abstractors to assist them. Frequent local travel is required because much of the necessary information for this job is stored in government offices and at other locations. Title examiners examine the data they collect in comfortable, well-lighted offices. The work is detailed and may be repetitious at times. Individuals in this occupation generally work a forty-hour week; however, overtime may be required to complete work before sale closings.
Where to Go for More Information
Real Estate Educators Association
19 Mantua Rd.
Mount Royal, NJ 08061
Earnings and Benefits
Earnings vary according to the type and size of the company, its geographic location, and the experience of the title examiner. According to a survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2004 title examiners earned an average annual salary of $39,420. Benefits usually include paid vacations and holidays, health insurance, and retirement plans.