An abstract is a document that summarizes information from various sources and lists the current titleholder of a property, and any current liens or judgments against the property. Abstracts, also called an Abstract of Title, are typically put together by the title company before a sale can be completed to protect the buyer from any unforeseen legal and financial obligations attached to the property. Abstractors gather data from many sources, including county recorders and the court clerk's office, and interpret the land survey. They also understand legal issues, such as the time limitations for claimants against a property.
Contact a title company or real estate attorney. Title companies employ trained abstractors, who are qualified to research the history of your property. You can contact a local title company or attorney, or use an online service such as TitleSearch and AmericanAbstract (see Resources).
Pay the applicable fee, which can vary according to company or professional.
Review the abstract. The abstract may take from several days to weeks, depending on the complexities of the property and encumbrances or liens. The abstract will clearly list any claims against the property, the land survey or boundaries of a particular piece of property, as well as the current titleholder.