What Is a Property Title and How Can You Use One?

Understanding property titles is vital to successful property investment and development. Find out what a title can tell you about a property.

Some people may not be familiar with the various property titles in Australia. They might be aware of the basic titles, but they don’t fully understand how they work.

A property’s title is a bundle of rights related to the ownership of said property. Each title carries its own set of regulations that you must abide by. As a property developer or investor, it’s critical to understand how titles work if you want to stay compliant.

Now, some property titles are rare. Others, such as freehold or Torrens title, encompass a large number of properties. The Torrens title, for example, covers just about all residential titles and a majority of commercial titles.

Another popular title is the strata or group title. With such a title, the owner of a property only owns the inside of their unit. The rest is ‘common property.’ The owners of individual units name a body corporate that controls and maintains the common property.

These are the two most common property titles that you must know about. Others include company title, leasehold, and retirement villages.

When you buy a property, you’ll receive a Certificate of Title. This is a document that outlines all your rights and obligations as the owner.

However, you can make use of property titles before you buy or build a property. You’d perform a title search to find out more about a property that you’re interested in.

But before that, you have to know how to look up a property’s title in the first place.

 

How Can I Access a Property’s Title?

Each state has its own methods of accessing a property’s title. This often involves a small fee and you can get all the information you need online in most states. Regardless of the state, you should also have access to additional information outside of the title. However, the accessibility of this information can vary greatly.

Here’s a breakdown of the process by state:

NSW

The New South Wales Department of Land and Property Information used to offer online title searches. And you can do it directly on their website. However, this isn’t possible anymore. Instead, the department will refer you to a variety of approved portals.

Depending on the portal you choose, you’ll have access to a property’s title at a range of prices. There are many options at your disposal, including:

  • Direct Info

  • MHE (Morris Hayes & Edgar)

  • Hazlett’s

  • Legalstream

  • CITEC Confirm

  • Infotrack

  • GlobalX

  • SAI Global

Queensland

You can find out a property’s title directly on the Queensland Government website for $18.15. Go to the environment, land, and water page and visit the land, housing, and property section. You can do a title search in the property titles, valuations, and surveys section.

ACT

In the ACT, you can find property information on the Access Canberra website. However, you can’t do a property search there. For that, you must visit your local Office of Regulatory Services or the Environment, Planning and Land Shopfront.

You can, however, go with an online subscriber service, especially if you plan on conducting regular title searches. The service comes at a price of $220.

Victoria

To access property titles in Victoria, you can visit the state government’s LANDATA website. Not only does it have the property title search feature, but you can also find other property information there. The process is rather straightforward. And you even can request additional documents for a small fee on top of the $14 fee for a title search.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, the LIST (Land Information System Tasmania) website allows you to do a property title search. All you have to do is create an account, pay the $30.60 fee, and you can search the title within the Folio Text section.

South Australia

To do a title search in South Australia, you’d go to the SALIS website (aka South Australian Integrated Land Information System). You can do a land title search as a guest or you can sign up for an account. Each property title search costs $27.75.

Western Australia

In WA, you can do a property title search on the Landgate website. The site will require you to enter the relevant property details, but you’ll need to pay a $24.85 fee.

Northern Territory

You can’t do an online property title search in the Northern Territory. Rather, you have to visit the land title office or request a search over the phone or fax.

However, there’s also an online portal reserved for professionals like conveyancers. For a monthly fee, you can have access to the portal called ILIS (Integrated Land Information System)

What Does a Title Search Tell You?

Now that you know where to do a title search, it’s time to see why you should do it in the first place.

Accessing a property’s title gives you important legal data that you’ll need when making an offer. Here are some of the main things that the title uncovers:

Ownership Details

It’s not uncommon for people to put properties up for sale even though they are not the registered owner. Naturally, this can cause legal trouble. A quick title search lets you check the details of the registered and authorised owner so that you know if everything’s in order.

Easements

Checking for the easements is a necessary part of due diligence. Easements impose restrictions related to the use of land. There can be any number of restrictions with respect to the structures you can build, as well as pipes, drainage, and other aspects. So before you buy any land, you must find out about its easements.

Mortgages

If the property you want to buy is under a mortgage, its owner doesn’t hold the Certificate of Title. The lender does and you should see the institution listed on the title. Before you settle, the seller must release the mortgage, or else you’ll run into delays.

Covenants

Another type of restriction that you should be aware of is the covenants. They limit your use and interaction with the property in a certain way. For instance, you might not be able to build a structure using certain materials.

A covenant can also mark any changes made on the property, which may affect your interaction with it. These are just some of the reasons why you should always be aware of any covenants on the property.

Caveats

Technically, a caveat is a warning that other parties have some type of involvement in the property. The state’s land registry issues caveats to warn buyers of potential claims to parts of a property. When someone lodges a caveat, the owner won’t be able to sell the property. This red flag is always clearly stated on the title.

Get Familiar with Titles

All property investors and developers should have a deep understanding of property titles. That’s if they want to avoid costly mistakes that may result in litigation.

As you can see, looking up a property’s title is quite simple. All you have to do is to access the appropriate database, pay a fee, and you’ll get all the information you’re looking for. And if you need any additional documentation, that shouldn’t be a hassle either.

After you have retrieved the title to a property, make sure to inspect all the information on the title. For example, you might not want to enter a negotiation if the property doesn’t have a clean title.

Now, if you’re a developer looking for potential sites, accessing the titles is only one part of the job. You still have to consider the permits, profitability, and many other aspects.

But you don’t have to do all of that on your own.

Archistar’s powerful features make site searching a breeze. You can filter your search by zoning, type, and other important criteria to find exactly what you’re looking for. It’s what makes it invaluable to developers and investors.

Archistar’s platform now also includes title search. Complete your property research and purchase land titles directly on the platform. Titles are now available for a special launch price, starting from only $12.50 per title. This very competitive pricing is available for a limited time only, so get started with Archistar today.

Would you like to find out more about how Archistar works and all that it has to offer? Schedule your free demo today.