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Work From Home as a Title Abstractor!
by Robert Franco | 2012/06/12 |

I guess it really isn't anything new... with online records becoming so prevalent, many title abstractors have traded their traditionally casual attire for silk jammies.  Though online access varies from county to county, I have always been of the impression that you really can't do a thorough search from the comforts of your living room.  First, it is rare that all of the records you need are available online.  And, second, the "official records" are usually on found in the county courthouses.  Nonetheless, ads are popping up offering "work from home" positions for title abstractors.

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A few of the counties we work in have the county recorder's records available online.  Still, they don't have them all.  The reliability of the online records is also questionable.  Here is a typical disclaimer:

We have tried to ensure that the information contained in this electronic search system is accurate. The Recorder's Offices make no warranty or guarantee concerning the accuracy or reliability of the content at this site or at other sites to which we link. Assessing accuracy and reliability of information is the responsibility of the user. The user is advised to search on all possible spelling variations of proper names, in order to maximize search results. The Ohio County Recorder's Offices shall not be liable for errors contained herein or for any damages in connection with the use of the information contained herein.

Online information is a good resource for some tasks.  But, in my opinion, it is not sufficient for actually conducted a thorough title search.  Some abstractors have told me in the past that they have discovered different results with the same search conducted online and at the courthouse.  As the above disclaimer points out, you are responsible for errors if you rely on the online records.

And, if you need to get a map to scale you won't find that online.  The Auditor's offices all have their records accessible online, but they aren't updated as frequently as the records maintained in their office.  Clerks of court offices are hit and miss... some are online, some aren't.  Even if they are, most do not provide access to documents so you can only review the docket.  What is actually written on those documents and signed by the judge can have a huge impact on what you should be reporting - how can you accurately report the status of title without access to those documents?

I wonder if E&O insurance would cover a claim resulting from an online search, where the official records at the courthouse were more accurate.  If the online records are "just as good," why is there a warning and disclaimer on the Web sites?

In my mind... you can't really do a title search online - at least not one I would be willing to be liable for.  When I was a title agent, I would never have issued a policy based on an online search.  Now that I am practicing law, I never make decisions or recommendations to my clients based on such a search.  I still want someone physically going to the courthouse and checking the "official records" before I do anything.

But... while browsing the Internet this morning, I found several ads seeking applicants for "Remote Title Abstractor" positions.  Here are a couple:


Search and examine real estate deeds, mortgages, easements, judgments and tax assessments to establish chain of title. Work from home... Train on-site, then work from home.


  • High school diploma
  • Six months title search or examination experience
  • Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer
Location: remote

Compensation: TBD


Work from home... as a Title Abstractor, Landman. Candidate will executing an examination of various property. Candidate will review and examine various property materials for accuracy and applicability and identify any restrictions that would limit the use of the property.


  • High School Diploma or equivalent
  • 2+ years experience in title abstracting or review work
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office

Compensation: $12 to $15/hr


There were several similar ads for positions in various states, including Pennsylvania, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.  The requirements all seemed to require a high school diploma and six months to two years of experience.  Seems like a relatively easy job to obtain. 

I don't think this is a good trend for our industry.  There is a lot riding on that title search and I cringe to think that they are being conducted like this... online by someone with very few qualifications. The fact they are "work from home" positions leads me to believe that there is very supervision going on.  

I have said it many times before, and I will say it again.  The title search is the foundation upon which all title policies are issued, and it is shocking that every other participant the process is required to be licensed, except the person doing that search.  Realtors, mortgage brokers, appraisers, surveyors, title agents, and attorneys are all required to be licensed... but not the title abstractor.  Think about this... an attorney has to be licensed to do something as simple as preparing a deed, yet the person who is charged with providing the information to ensure marketable title isn't.  



Categories: Abstractors

1243 words | 55904 views | 19 comments | log in or register to post a comment

Title Care

I am not sure what your gripe was?  Online accessibility or the fact title examiners (not abstractors-we don't do that anymore because the title insurance industry has changed) are not licensed.  And to the point, made by part of my previous comment, "change is constant, progress is optional".   Truth is, 95% of title examination reporting is not brain surgery.  It does take training, skill and understanding.  On the other hand, all of the  licensed actors you mention above deal directly with the public.  Our work is filtered.  Lab technicians report to doctors and they are not licensed.  You get my point.  

 In my experience, online reporting is quite reliable and getting better every day.  Why cook over a fire when you have a stove?  The bulk of the work is rote and when an unusual case does come up you make arrangements to go to the courthouse.

 Good try at making the job more romantic and fraught.  The main issues are liability, efficiency, accuracy and pricing and  and the circuit courts do not give you any more protection if you spend the day pulling books. 

by Michael RAFFERTY | 2012/06/12 | log in or register to post a reply

I find it interesting that one of the ads referred to Maryland. As you state in many areas you simply must go to the land records to obtain actual copies of critical documents, including copies of court orders. Sadly there are many who simply don't understand why a complete and accurate title search is necessary. I would venture a guess that those opponents have never read a title policy or been involved in resolving title claims. Reliance on your professional insurance coverage to cover your lackluster performance of your job can be an expensive gamble. 
by CHARLENE PERRY | 2012/06/12 | log in or register to post a reply

I also agree

Although some records in my PA county are accessible online, I only use those records to pull copies.  Unless you are familiar with the actual record books, documents can easily be missed.  I often find indexing errors and would never reply on the online system to conduct a title search.  EVER. 

Since the Oil and Gas boom here in PA, the courthouse is overflowing with "title abstractors" conducting gas searches.  I use the term lightly and am actually a little insulted.  They are trained in the morning and put to work that afternoon.  They have no idea what they are looking for, where to look and what the information means.  I listen to them ask county employees questions they should know the answers to if they were actually an abstractor.  They seem to be getting the same "training" as those looking to be a "remote title abstractor."

Ive worked hard to build my business and even harder at the relationships I have with the companies I work with.  While I get the occassional "out of the blue" call from a new company, most have been with me for years.  They rely on me to provide a complete and accurate title search conducted within the walls of the county courthouse.  And thats what I provide.  In the last few years, Ive built relationships with a lot of attorneys too.  They are picking up the pieces of an incomplete online title search that has now created a huge title mess.  Its my job to help them fix the mess.  And I do. 

Ive also built relationships with those who work at the courthouse.  I can give you the names of every employee in every office I visit.  Its takes more than a internet connection to be an abstractor.  If you thinks thats all it is, you should probably look into another profession. 

by PATRICIA PALMER | 2012/06/13 | log in or register to post a reply

99% of our records are only available online

Most Registries in Massachusetts stopped printing indices & record books over a decade ago.  All we have is online access.  Having said that, it is often quite easier & simpler to do a search, by computer, in the Registry, rather than at home.  There are still issues (eg Registered Land) that are problematic online & can only be dealt with by using the paper copies in books from the Registry. 

Online plans are generally teensy, tiny & are somewhat blurred so a trip to the Registry is needed for that as well. 

Probates are not available online.  A trip to Probate Court is the only answer &, even though docket records are online, they may not be accurate, because for some unknown reason, Probate Court does not docket everything that comes in...or worse, their docketing is way behind. 

And then there's the joy of running James Sullivan or John Smith or George Brown or Ann Jones from the year One.  I normally don't like title cancellations, but I was overjoyed when the client called & cancelled one that involved James A Sullivan & his wife Mary (no middle initial) Sullivan, who bought a property in 1942; & involved a probate for him - & he left 8 or 9 kids, mostly boys, all named Robert or John or Edward.  If I had been stuck with that mess the only way to do it would be in the bound indices, which we still have, but stop at around 2004. 

I agree with the idea that hiring online abstractors, who may have as little as 6 months training is a terrible idea.  Leaving them at home to sort through titles, without supervision is a worse idea.  Marketing titles to banks based on a brigade of in-home examiners is a really, really bad idea.  Who is stuck with the liability when the newbies make mistakes?  If the newbies are subcontractors, then they should realize that they are putting their own house on the line with every title report they send out. 

by Leigh Attridge | 2012/06/16 | log in or register to post a reply

Probably not a good idea.

This could be good or bad.  If it lowers the fees paid to walk-in Abstractors and causes legal trouble it is bad.   I kow of one county where you can do a good online search but that is also one more step in the scanning process that can lead to human error and the person scanning the documents and creating the system may be a contractor who knows little or nothing about this business.  I believe that Abstracting should be raised in level as a profession not lowered.  The only way I can see this helping our business is if it creates job for the home bound.  If searches are conducted via the internet will that change the cost of insurance ?  Who would be liable ?  The county ?  The researcher or the scanner/systems developer? 

All growth related events in all things create change and more change.  I think I will drive off to do my searches like I always have.  This also gives me that tax deduction and the scenery where I am is beautiful andI  can develop relationships with the courts and the clerks staff..they are truely valuable when confusion errupts.  My personal opinion is that lawyers will do very well with the unreliable 90% results out where I am--in rural country.   My experience I brought to this includes.--Surveyors assistant--Business College-Paralegal Training and years on my feet.  If online searching takes over the industry I will do something else as I cannot sit all day and would rather be driving snowy roads and pulling books.  A good comment made by Leigh attridge below is about who puts what on the line?  Besides I love to socialize and find Abstractors to be a great bunch of people !

by Nicholas Buttice | 2012/06/18 | log in or register to post a reply

Title from home
Most of the counties we cover also everything is online, they no longer index into tract books, so we pull the documents and index them to our tract books and this is our daily chore, because we don't trust where they index them online, we just make sure we get all the documents for that day. Only change is we don't have to go to the courthouse every day, we just get on the computer.  Life is good  
by Shona Dunning | 2012/06/20 | log in or register to post a reply

I think the reason that Maryland is mentioned......
......is because there is a misconception out there that all Maryland Land Record and Court indecies are online.  As you know, they are NOT.  Every county in Maryland is slightly different.  It will take a few years but the online only searchers will get what's coming to them.  Unfortunately all of our E&O rates will go up because of it even though we have never had a claim. 
by Richard Olson | 2012/06/26 | log in or register to post a reply

I know why Maryland was mentioned the indecies cannot be relied on online!!
Yes I did! I took a job my first job abstracting as a online abstractor of course it got me out the door all of Md indecies are not online you should physically go to the courthouse and do the search alternatively its for the best so there should be no online abstracting in md for the counties and  for liable judgments as well so i stongly agree!!!!I lost my in house job first time as a online abstractor!! it wasnt a good feeling so now I do them the professsional way. I hung myself for taking the job as a online abstractor it wasnt a good idea . So now I do it professionally and I have GOOD LUCK WITH actually goin to the courthouse !! This was a lesson learned lol!!!  
by Linda Logan | 2012/06/27 | log in or register to post a reply

on-line abstracting

On-line searches can be trusted only if the abstractor has intimate knowledge of their courthouse. Things were filed differently prior to the 1980s so certain things must be checked. As the years go by, more and more changes occur and unless you know the ins and outs of the entire system as it pertains to title abstracting, there are going to be errors. In my counties, there are several different computer programs to be accessed in order to get a search completed. I feel fortunate to have been there before computer records were available. I learned how to do each step manually so when I complete a search I feel confident that I did a thorough job.

I "love" the fact that I can do my job from home but I've been doing the same counties for 20 years and know what to look for and how to utilize all that is available to me. 

Occasionally, a trip to the courthouse is necessary. In those instances, I keep contact with other abstractors who prefer doing their searches at the courthouse. I  pay them as I would anyone else for their service.

The key is to find an abstractor with this kind of knowledge. Anything less will lead to a substantial amount of errors.

by KIMBERLY FALCONE | 2012/07/02 | log in or register to post a reply

There are good on line records and bad on line records
The trick (and experience) is knowing when which is which.  When I'm not doing my vendor manager thing, I'm abstracting on line in three counties (and sometimes a 4th to cover someone else).  THE RECORDS I USE ON LINE ARE ACCESSING THE SAME SERVER THAT I WOULD BE USING AT THE COURTHOUSE.  I'm not really sure what "other records" you're talking about, Robert.  Since Michigan abstractors only search the Register of Deeds, if what we're looking at is the same at home as at the courthouse, there is no issue.  When a THIRD PARTY is taking care of the records, THEN problems crop up (and there is a very large, nation-wide database company who copies and indexes county documents wherever they can -- many Michigan Registers no longer allow this because they quickly discovered what was happening and that in the long run, they would lose a LOT of money [it's $1/pg here]).   
by Alix Ott | 2012/07/02 | log in or register to post a reply

there are no other records to be searched at the courthouse. why go to the courthouse when I can stay home and not fight traffic, etc.? In FL all records are (and have been since 2000)  on line, except for small, remote counties. anyway, I've always said it's living in the 21st century. I went to the courthouse to do searches when there were no computers! 
by Paula Reynolds | 2012/07/09 | log in or register to post a reply

Many records are not available online here...

In many counties in Ohio, the clerk of courts doesn't provide images of the documents and you can only look at the docket.  Probate records are not online at all.  Special assessments most likely are not available online. 

So, if you care to look for little things like judgment liens, divorces, estates, guardianships, suits involving real estate, etc., you won't find any without going to the courthouse.


by Robert Franco | 2012/07/12 | log in or register to post a reply

Online Counties
I agree. I've been searching online since 2004 for major title insurance companies and have compiled a nationwide list of counties that have information online. The amount of information available online varies wildly, but I think we have a pretty good list going. I'm not sure if posting links is allowed, but our running list of several hundred websites is available at iAbstract.com. Some co-workers and I have been working on this list and we finally created this website to share it with everyone. Feel free to add or edit information if you have any changes to make. 
by Jason Green | 2012/08/11 | log in or register to post a reply

Work from Home Title Abstractor

The records in Richland and Lexington Counties (SC) online are the same as in the recorder's offices.  However, if performing a 60-year or 40-year search, one MUST go to the Courthouse, as these online records exist from approximately 1997 or 1998.  In addition, unless the survey is letter-sized, we cannot download them from the comfort of our home.  Many subdivisions are older than 60 years, and we must go back through the books to find the old surveys, restrictions and easements.  On many an occasion, I have gone back as far as 1912 to obtain the required information.   There are many of us in the industry in these counties who know the areas so well, that we know what is missing in a title policy which is to be used for "back title". 

A case in point is an update I did yesterday (online), but had to go to the Courthouse to obtain a copy of the survey which was dated 1995.  Since the records have been placed online, I am finding a myriad of data-entry errors and must send a correction as prescribed on the site. 


by Donna McCullough | 2012/08/20 | log in or register to post a reply

Online Counties - SC
Jason, I will contact you through your website.  I have several additional SC counties for you to add to your site. 
by Donna McCullough | 2012/08/20 | log in or register to post a reply

Work from home(Abstractor)

I am Abstractor/searcher working from, 

we have done many US states and counties from online/paid websites and title application etc.

I worked as Searcher/examiner in different title companies for 9 years.

Definetly it will cost you really very cheaper since i am working from home.

Currently i dont have any subscription(logins) any of the state ....

We can do any of the state and county, current, 2 owner search, full, 30 year search...

You pay only for search.. you can give access/logins if that particular county is required access since it is paid sites..

Please feel free to ask if you required any additional information....





by raj Stephen | 2015/06/27 | log in or register to post a reply

about ads...

"Candidate will executing an examination of various property.",

 it's quite likely such ads were posted by some oversea / offshore business because educated native English speaker is unlikely to make this type of grammar error like "will executing" instead of "will execute"...

by Don (Chunshen) Li | 2016/03/31 | log in or register to post a reply

I was contracted by one of these companies. A MAJOR National Mortgage Company that you ALL know by name.  They were not off-shore, but located right here in the good ole US of A.  They claimed to have "Title Mills" online that you worked from.  They were interested in the fact that I had worked multiple states and knew marketable title standards for various states.  Instead of clocking in and clocking out, you logged in and logged out.  This is the wave of the future.  Why pay for an office and overhead when your employees can work from home.  Its "tele-commuting".  This is not about the examiner but about the mortgage companies and the "title certification".  If they are willing to lend on a "current owner" search only...what are we to do.  Another 10 years and Title Examination as we know it, especially for the "independent" examiner will be dead. 
by Allen Bruce | 2016/08/04 | log in or register to post a reply

Abstractor in NC

I have done Richland and Lexington Counties many times and I agree.  My gripe is I have seen outsourcing companies try to do a full or 2-owner search here and basically just get the back deed without EVER grantoring forward.  That's great if you are doing a current owner but if you are doing a full, you really need to abstract out to catch old, unreleased mortgages, road agreements, or easements, to name a few.  Yes, the liens are categorized online and sometimes copies can't be pulled with the online subscription.  Plus Richland is so big that for me it's easier to look in an indexing book - I think sometimes title can be done online but there should be a huge caveat and definitely NOT A full title.  



by Naomi Backes | 2017/10/24 | log in or register to post a reply
Source of Title Blog

Robert A. FrancoThe focus of this blog will be on sharing my thoughts and concerns related to the small title agents and abstractors. The industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years and I believe that we are just seeing the beginning. As the evolution continues, what will become of the many small independent title professionals who have long been the cornerstone of the industry?

Robert A. Franco



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