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Frequently Asked Questions

Q:

What is an "abstract of title"?

A: An abstract of title is a history of a specific piece ("tract") of land covering a specific period of time. It contains condensed (or abstracted) versions of all documents recorded against the particular tract of land in the records of the county where the land is located. Attorneys frequently examine (create "title opinions" from) abstracts of title to determine the quality of the title.

Q: What is "title insurance"?
A: Title insurance is a type of insurance that protects against past, not future, undisclosed defects or fraud in the chain of title for a particular tract of land. Two main categories are Owner's policies and Lender's policies.

Q: If I have an abstract of title, do I need title insurance as well?
A: Not necessarily. As noted above, an abstract of title is more or less a history, a piece of evidence, used to determine good, marketable title to a tract of land; whereas title insurance is an end product produced from research of the title. Under North Dakota law, an updated abstract of title is one of the prerequisites (along with an attorney's title opinion) to issuing a title insurance policy.

Q: How often do I need to have my abstract of title updated?
A: Abstracts of title are usually updated when the property covered by the abstract is transferred or sold to another party. Also if the owner (or purchaser) mortgages the property, the lender usually requires the abstract of title to be updated and an attorney's title opinion be secured. This process may or may not include a lender's title insurance policy, per the lender's request.

Q: How much does it cost to update an abstract of title?
A. Abstracter's rates in North Dakota are determined by North Dakota statute. The fee schedule in the statute is the maximum an abstracter may charge; and the cost varies depending on the number of documents to be abstracted from the real estate records since the last time the abstract was updated. An estimate of abtracting costs may usually be obtained from your county abstract and title office at no cost.
Q: What if I don't have an abstract of title on my land; or it was lost or destroyed; and do I need to have one?
A: No worry. Simply contact your local abstract and title company and they will be happy to give you an estimate to prepare a new abstract of title. You may not need an abstract of title at this point in time; but eventually you will -- when you refinance or sell your property.

Q: How about title insurance -- is it expensive?
A. Either an Owner's or a Lender's policy rates are quite uniform among different title insurance companies and are based on a sliding scale depending upon amount of coverage for the policy. Again, contact your local title office to get an estimate.

Q: I'm hearing a lot about minerals lately. How can I find out if I own the minerals on my land?
A: Again, contact your local abstract and title office and ask for a quote for a Mineral Search on your land. Your local title company has the ability to satisfy most of your land title questions.

Q:

How do I find my county abstract and title company?

A: Simple. Just go to the North Dakota Land Title Association website: NDLTA.org