Preliminary Title Reports

How To Order A Prelim?

One of the first steps in a real estate transaction is to obtain a preliminary title report – also referred to as a “prelim” or “PTR”.  The prelim provides no title insurance but is essentially a first look at title and what encumbers the property.  The process between obtaining this prelim and the eventual title policy can include the review of title exceptions, the effect on the property use, and possibly the cleaning up of title matters.

One of the common ways that a preliminary title report is generated is when you have a signed purchase contract and escrow is opened.  The escrow officer will often initiate the request for a prelim from a specific title company, which is typically stipulated within the purchase contract.  The title company will need the legal description of the property, which should always be attached as an exhibit to the purchase contract.

If you do not have a purchase contract or have opened escrow, it is still possible to order a prelim from the title company.  Most developers and builders will have an account rep or title officer assigned from the title company, to whom you can make a direct request or order for the prelim.  The essential information needed is some description of the property, which can often be the address or an Assessor Parcel Number (APN).  Keep in mind that neither of these is the legal description of the property but, assuming that your info is correct, the prelim generated will include the legal description.

You may want to ask your title rep if there is a cost for generating this prelim.  Here in California, the prelims could often in the past be a complimentary service with no charge.  But recent state laws have required the title companies to charge for a prelim if no eventual title policy is ever issued.  Your title company should be able to explain what they can and cannot do.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to share with us below.

John Kaye has over 30 years experience within the land development and homebuilding industries, having held senior management positions with The Irvine Company, Koll Real Estate Group, and Brookfield Homes. As a developer, John has overseen the land acquisition, entitlements, and development of master planned communities, residential tracts, urban infill sites, and land assemblages. His experience and skill sets include land acquisition, land brokerage, project management, market analysis, finance, and strategic planning.

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