Oklahoma is an abstracting state. Since many of our buyers come from out-of-state, states where they do not own an actual "hard copy" abstract of title to the property that they own, they have a blank look on their face when I mention an abstract of title.
When I ask them if they know what an abstract is, 99% of the time, the answer is "no".
Every state has some form of "abstracting" or "title search". It may be called a "title report" "title search" , "title exam", or "evidence of title", and some states do actually call it "abstractng". In Oklahoma, there usually is a hard copy "abstract' that passes to the buyers of the property from the sellers.
THE ABSTRACT is a "book" made up of bound photocopies of all documents that have been filed on a particular legal description, these documents can affect the chain of title or ownership of that piece of property.The abstract is a complete histoy of a legal description's chain of title. This abstract has monetary value. Up until recently the cost was based upon the number of pages and the price of an abstract could run into the thousands of dollars. McCurtain and Choctaw Counties have both changed to a price structure based upon length of time since the abstract's last certification, this has reduced the price of the abstracting process for many land owners. Abstracts must be prepared by Licensed Abstract Offices. Those permits and liceses are obtained from the State Of Oklahoma. Abstracts are prepared in McCurtain County by Southern Abstract in Idabel. Abstracts are prepared in Choctaw County by Choctaw County Abstracting and Title in Hugo Oklahoma.
Currently, from what I've read, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Maryland are the only states that deal with abstracts that are hard copies of the actual documents, bound together into booklet form and quite valuable to the owner of the property because the Oklahoma "ABSTRACT" must be read by an attorney to determine marketability of a title before title insurance can be issued on that property.
Many history buffs greatly value their "abstracts" for the historical reading.. it can be quite interesting to read through an abstract.. Base abstracts in Southeast Oklahoma usually go back to the "Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek".
They contain such interesting and "juicy" documents as divorces, judgments, liens, probates, mortgages, and deeds (sometimes the older documents were much more interesting than our current ones because they might actually spell out why a piece of property was deeded back and forth between the same two people 5 times).
Another interesting thing is the sale price of properties and the mortgage amounts from 100 years ago! They seems so very small in comparison to the amounts of today. Of course we know that in true dollars that's not the case.
I have had some buyers exhibit more excitement over owning their abstract than their new home as they sat there and read through some of the documents.. I'm sure that they were really more excited about their new home but the exuberance came forth from reading the abstract!
Abstract of Titles have a certification page as the last page of the abstract, where the abstractor signs off on the abstract, certifying it. It contains the signature and date of the abstractor.
The Oklahoma Abstractors Board's website has a lot of information on it about the abstracting process in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Abstractors act is contained here and details the time period that abstracting plant must operate within to prepare your abstract. There is also information on filing a complaint if that becomes necessary.
Abstract Law Reform of 2007 dealt with these things and also made a major change in the issuance of title insurance. The reform of 2007 allows a title insurance policy to be based upon a supplemental abstract if that supplemental abstract goes back to the prior owner's issuance of title insurance. Prior to this time the complete base abstract had to be read each time that a title policy was issued.
After the Abstract is brought up to date, it goes to an attorney for his opinion of marketability of the title. This is necesssary to determine marketability of title and for the issuance of title insurance.. That's next in this series.
If you're thinking of selling or buying a home, land, or commercial real estate in Southeast Oklahoma (McCurtain County and Choctaw County), you owe it to yourself to hire a professional, someone knowedgeable and honorable... Call me, Judi Barrett and let's talk about your needs. We care.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user bionicteaching made avaialble through creative commons licensing.