The county records office maintains extensive records of all the property parcels in the county. These records can go all the way back to the first person to legally record a claim to the property. In most cases, however, the lender will only be concerned with the identity of the current owners, who must acknowledge and accept the mortgage transaction.

The title will identify the current owners, as well as the types of ownership the current owners may have on the property. There are many elements and dimensions to ownership. For example, a condominium owner may only own the air rights within his or her unit, but own no walls, floors, buildings or land. For more information, see the "Title and Estates in Land" and "Introduction to Real Estate" articles.

The title must also clearly identify the property. The description of the property is typically not according to the common street name recognized by locals. Precision is required. Most counties use a PIN, or parcel identification number, particularly for subdivided lands. They also record the full legal description, which provides even more clarity.

Lenders and recorders want descriptions so exact that it can only apply to one property in the world. Remember that there are many "Main Streets" or "Washington Boulevards" in this country; this makes street address an insufficient method for recording property with the precision the industry requires. An example of typical legal description may be as follows:

"Units 2334 and 166 in the Madison Square Condominiums as delineated on a survey of the following described real estate: Lots 1, 2A, 2B, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in William J. Harold's Resubdivision of Land, Property and Space of part of the Southeast 1/4 of Section 2, Township 27 North, Range 19 East of the Third Principal Meridian, which survey is attached as Exhibit "C" to the Declaration of condominium recorded as Document 45, 176, 749, together with its undivided percentage interest in the common elements in St. Clair County, Oklahoma."

For more information, see the "Surveys and Legal Description" article.

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