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Root of Title Abstracts

Definition:  A Root of Title Abstract (New Abstract) is a compilation of all the documents filed of public record for at least the last 40 years that affect the chain of title to a particular parcel of land.  The documents are not shown in their entirety.  Instead, only the most important information from a particular document is shown in the abstract.  The "abstracted" or abbreviated showings of the information help an examining attorney more quickly and easily review the information when writing a Title Opinion.   It is very important to understand that the documents shown in an abstract are based on the legal description, not the property address and not simply based on a search of the titleholders by name.  To search property based on the legal description, we have developed a computerized index of all the documents filed in the Recorder's office based on the legal description.  This database is often referred to as a "Title Plant" or "Tract Index" and is a very effective and efficient way to find all of the documents that pertain to a given parcel of land.  This helps to insure that the Root of Title Abstract we prepare for you is complete and accurate. In addition to showing the documents that affect chain of title, our Root of Title Abstracts include all Plats and Surveys, easements, party wall and other boundary line agreements, unexpired recorded leases, and patents and/or original entries that have been filed since the property was first conveyed by the government (often dating back to the 1850’s).  We also show any unreleased liens or judgments that have been filed of public record against the titleholders as well as the property tax status.  Our Root of Title Abstracts are prepared in accordance with the Forty Year Marketable Title Act (Sections 614.29 through 614.38 of the 1971 Code of Iowa), Chapter 11 of the Iowa Land Title Association Examination Standards and the Abstracting Standards of the Iowa Land Title Association. 

When to Order:  A Root of Title Abstract is often required in the following situations: 

  1. when an abstract has been lost
  2. when an abstract has not been prepared previously but is now required by a lender prior to filing a mortgage or by a buyer prior to purchase
  3. when a new parcel of land has been platted, including new subdivisions

It's worth noting that you may not have an abstract to your property.  This is often the case if you acquired the land by Quit Claim Deed or if the property is not especially valuable.

Time to Prepare:  Preparation of a new Root of Title Abstract can be a very complex process and therefore it can take up to three weeks to complete.  However, most new Root of Title Abstracts require less than two weeks to complete.  

Cost:  The cost of preparing a new Root of Title Abstract is highly variable but depends on the number of documents that have to be shown in the abstract and the assessed value of the property.  Most new Root of Title Abstracts cost between $400 and $800.  Some are less but some are significantly more.  We can provide a discount if you provide us with a reference abstract.  A reference abstract is an abstract that has been prepared previously and includes some or all of the land for the new Root of Title abstract.  We can also provide an estimated cost of a new Root of Title Abstract based on a reference abstract if you would like.

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