What Happens When…

A Lawyer’s Perspective On
Issues Faced By Agents.

What Happens When…

A Lawyer’s Perspective On
Issues Faced By Agents.

What Happens When…

A Lawyer’s Perspective On
Issues Faced By Agents.

What happens when… Red flags to watch for in your client’s title search

by | Jan 23, 2024 | For Real Estate Agents

This content was originally posted in our real estate agents Newsletter. If you are interested in receiving relevant information for real estate agents as soon as it drops, you can sign up here. 

As a real estate agent, you have a ton of insight and knowledge into the properties your clients are listing or are interested in buying. One of your tools is a title search which can show you red flags before you list a property, or (ideally!) before your client puts in an offer on a new property.

But did you know that your title search through GeoWarehouse differs greatly from a real estate lawyer’s version through Teraview?

In a real estate lawyer’s ideal world, a title search would be conducted BEFORE every property is listed. While this may not be common practice, having the search done before could save a lot of sellers, buyers, realtors, and lawyers from some unfortunate situations.

While the title search system in the Agreement of Purchase and Sales (APS) works perfectly most of the time, if there is a serious issue, and the title search date is a week or two before closing, it may be impossible to remedy that issue in time for closing. The earlier these issues are identified the more likely everyone is to experience a smooth closing.

If a serious issue comes up, this might affect the seller’s ability to give “good title” to the buyer, which may result in a delay in closing or cause the seller to be unable to close.


Red flags to watch out for.

When your clients are listing a property or are interested in a new property, here are some common red flags that you should look for on a title search.

Who are the owners?

If you are listing a property, are you certain you are dealing with all of the legal owners? Are any owners married but their spouse is not on title?  Is anyone on title deceased? Is anyone on title under Power of Attorney? If the answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you need to investigate further before moving ahead.


Is the property deemed a single-family residence, a duplex, commercial, or residential? While this would not necessarily be registered on title, if your client is interested in a multi-unit property you should contact the municipality to see if the property is listed as multi-unit in their records. Most importantly, make sure that the “present use” in paragraph 8 of the OREA APS reflects your client’s preferred use of the property. If your client is buying the property as a triplex, it NEEDS to say triplex in paragraph 8. If the property is not registered with the municipality, you may wish to reach out to a real estate lawyer to look further into the zoning and permitted uses.

Crown reservations.

This means the crown retained a right to the property when the lot was first created for private ownership. For example, they may have the right to flood the property for waterway management or diversion, or the right to all the pine trees on the property. This is more important to investigate on vacant land or property your client wishes to further develop.

Land Title System versus Land Registry.

The old provincial system of tracking properties was a paper-based registry system. The province converted the vast majority into the electronic Land Title System. During the conversion process, if there was a property with a title defect, that property was left out of the electronic system. If you come across a property that is still in the paper-based system, there is likely a reason why and a comprehensive title search is necessary.


For most properties your clients are purchasing, a GeoWarehouse search and the insertion of a Title Search Date in the APS is all that is needed. However, if there is any indication of an issue, it should be investigated further before making an offer. If you encounter a property where something may be “off”, reach out to a real estate lawyer to give you a second opinion. I’m sure most lawyers, ourselves included, would love the opportunity to identify a title issue as early in the process as possible.

Stay tuned for our next newsletter where we shine a light on some of the other red flags to watch out for in your client’s real estate transaction.


McMurter & Associates has been providing real estate legal services for over 30 years in the Durham Region. We strive to provide you with straightforward and useful advice that you can use in your business. If you have found this useful, please share this information with your colleagues, or better yet, invite them to sign up for the newsletter!

If you have any questions about your real estate transaction, we are available Monday to Friday, 9am until 5pm.  Email: info@mcmurter Phone: 905-666-9200