Frequently Asked Questions

What is an abstract of title?

An abstract of title is a collection of all the documents filed in the public record which affect the status of a real estate title. This document is usually an 8.5 inch x 14 inch set of pages bound by a cloth cover. An abstract will show all of the history required to establish a marketable title. In Iowa this history must exceed 40 years.

What is included in an abstract?

  1. The Caption: This is the precise legal description of the real estate. It may be based upon a plat or a specific survey. 

  2. Chain of Title: This is the history of ownership of the real estate at any given time. The chain of title is shown in the abstract of title by setting out the conveyances (Warranty Deed for example).

  3. Direct Liens: The abstract of title will set out mortgages, tax liens, and other direct encumbrances against the title. 

  4. Indirect Liens: The abstract of title will set out all other matters of record which are or may become direct liens against the real estate such as; divorces, child support, money judgments (judicial), criminal and traffic judgments, and mechanics liens.

  5. Property Taxes: Paid, due, delinquent, and back taxes.

  6. Certifications: The Certified Abstract is a complete record of all documents in public file.

What if I have lost my abstract of title?

Using our records and doing the proper research of public records and documents, we can make a new abstract which covers the proper historic period of time to establish good title. Please call us for an estimate of cost. 

How long does it take to provide abstracting services?

This can depend upon the complexity of the status of a title and how many years back the research must go. Generally you can expect 5-7 business days for an average transaction.

Can an Abstract be held for safekeeping by American Abstract and Title Guarantee?

No. You must be clear about where this document is. Sometimes banks (Lenders) will hold these for you in safekeeping; rarely attorneys will hold them. It is very common for banks, attorneys, and title companies to expect you to sign a receipt indicating you are in possession of the document at the end of the title work process.

What is a title opinion and how is it different from the abstract of title?

The title opinion is a letter drafted by a licensed Attorney at Law setting out the important information in the abstract of title, interpreting the documents in the abstract of title, and setting out any deficiencies or problems which need to be corrected before the pending transaction can proceed.

What about title insurance?

Historically, Iowa has been a state which relied upon the abstract, followed by a title opinion model, without title insurance involved. Today, title insurance is available from a limited source which issues a standard American Land and Title Association (ALTA) policy.

How do I get title insurance in Iowa?

American Abstract and Title Guarantee, in concert with Kevin J. Kuckelman, Attorney at Law, can provide Iowa Title Guarantee (ALTA) policies through a field issuance agreement. Please let us know if title insurance is needed when you place your title work order.

How much does this service cost?

Our pricing is competitive and fair to the consumer. The method by which we calculate our fee involves the following:

  • Value of the property being sold or conveyed

  • Length of time to be researched to update the abstract of title

  • Number of entries required to adequately reflect the status of title and the complexity of those entries

  • Complexity of the Legal Description

  • Rush or short turnaround times

Where can I find more about Iowa Title Guaranty?

Here is some information found in the Iowa Title Guaranty publication:

Click on the following button then select Title Guaranty Consumer Brochure from the left column titled Documents.