Nancy Cochran Maddox


General Closing Information

Indexing Standards

Since the entire indexing system is based on names and legal description, it is extremely important to have accurate information for both.   This can mean the difference in quickly constructing a chain of title, and spending hours spinning your wheels looking for The XYZ Company in Land Lot 215, when really The ABC Company actually owned property in Land Lot 251. Once you have the name of the owner of a certain parcel of property, and an accurate legal description, you are ready to begin constructing the history of the tract, or “CHAIN OF TITLE.” 

The Deed Records

You will hear title examiners refer to “the record”, as in:  That person has good title to her land, according to the record.  The record refers to the Superior Court Clerk’s Deed Records.  This system of registration of land ownership is based on English Common Law, as is practically our entire legal system.  Registration is designed to give NOTICE to any and all individuals regarding ownership to property.  The idea of notice is to maintain a centralized system to track the ownership of land – to promote stability and MARKETABILITY of real property.  

Documents make up this record, and are filed in books which are indexed according to name.  It is possible to begin with a current owner’s name, and trace property back in time to the early 1800s, to the formation of your particular county.  Of course, title examiners do not usually go back that far in time.  Title standards (put forth by the State Bar of Georgia) indicate that a 50-year search is adequate to allow for certification of title. This means that you must construct the history of a property beginning with a valid warranty deed from at least 50 years before the date of the search, to the present “good through” date.

The following is a partial list of considerations that must be made by a title examiner when putting together this chain of title. It is very important to have an experienced title examiner review the title to land. As you can see below, there are many considerations when researching title, and expertise is definitely required. You must research deeds, and legal descriptions, security instruments, liens, road and street right of ways, flood easements, surveys of property, surveys of surrounding properties, easements, legal descriptions, lien indices, names of all owners, civil files, probate files, wills, administration documents, and numerous other documents too numerous to name.

Real Property in General

Owning property means that you have title to a piece of land.  An essential right and foundation in our society is the right to own private property.  Property ownership is demonstrated both by physical possession of the property and a paper trail at a centralized location. This central location is in the county seat of each county in the State, and is more commonly known as the Superior Court Clerk’s Office.  If you own property, then you will have a deed located in the Clerk’s Deed Records.  If you have a loan on your property then a security deed will be located in Deed Records as well.  If you have given someone an easement (like a power line right of way, for example), then a document evidencing this will also be located in the records. If there are covenants on your property then a document evidencing that will also be recorded in the deed records.

Real Estate Closing

A closing is a formal meeting of seller, buyer, lender and real estate agents (if applicable), and is presided over by a closing attorney. A closing attorney is hired by a lender or a buyer to do the following:

  • Examine the title to the property being conveyed
  • Obtain pay-offs for any liens or loans collaterallizing the subject property
  • Make sure all taxes and property owner’s dues are paid in full
  • Prepare a settlement statement itemizing the transaction for all
  • Prepare the deed of conveyance (usually a Warranty Deed)
  • Explain all documentation to the parties involved
  • Collect the monies owed by the parties in certified funds - NOW EXCLUSIVELY ACCEPTING ONLY WIRED FUNDS FOR YOUR PROTECTION
  • Disburse the funds to the appropriate parties (seller, lender, taxing authority, closing attorney, title insurance agency, realtor, etc.)
  • Record all documents in the county deed records
  • Remit transfer and intangible taxes to the county tax commissioner
  • Follow up by “finaling" the file, meaning to check the local deed records to make sure all documents were recorded properly, and all old security deeds and liens are marked satisfied of record, and all indices are accurate.
  • Issue final title policy once the file has been finaled.

In the State of Georgia, transfers of real estate are required to be supervised by an attorney. The formal event at which real property is transferred is typically called a "Closing." Below you will find some general information regarding the closing process, as well as other aspects of the transfer of property.

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Documents Related to Property Ownership 

  • Warranty Deed:  This shows the transfer of real property from one person to another.  The seller (or grantor) is warranting that he/she has good title to the property being sold, and as such will defend the title to the property on behalf of the buyer (grantee.)  This is the best way to have title to land transferred to a purchaser.
  • Right of Way Deed:  This is usually employed by utility companies to have a property owner grant to the utility the right to place lines, pipes, etc. 
  • Deed to Secure Debt:  This shows that an owner of property has borrowed money against property and the lender has taken a security interest in the person’s property as collateral.  The property owner actually gives the lender the right to foreclose on the property in the event the loan is not paid according to set terms.
  • Quit Claim Deed: This shows the transfer of property from one person to another. The seller does not guarantee good title, or even that they own the property.  If a seller wishes to give a quit claim deed only, it is especially important that title to the property be examined closely.
  • Fi. Fa.: This is a lien that can be placed against any and all property owned by a person if a judgment is entered against a property owner.
  • Tax Lien:  This is a lien placed against a person, which is recorded in the deed records, and places a lien against anything that you own or anything you purchase.