Optimal Title Search

Posted: 10 Apr 2002

See all articles by Thomas J. Miceli

Thomas J. Miceli

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Matthew J. Baker

United States Naval Academy - Department of Economics

C. F. Sirmans

Florida State University - Department of Risk Management, Insurance, Real Estate & Business Law

Geoffrey K. Turnbull

Georgia State University - Department of Economics

Abstract

In the U.S., title to land is protected by a system of public records that would-be buyers must consult in order to ensure that they are dealing with the true owner. Search is a costly process, however, especially as one goes back in time and the records deteriorate. This paper uses a sequential search model to determine how far back in time buyers should search. We find that in general, search of the entire record is not optimal, which implies that optimal search does not establish title with certainty. We test the model using state statutes and search guidelines that limit the required length of title search. Our results show that the search limits vary across states according to the predictions of the model.

Suggested Citation

Miceli, Thomas J. and Baker, Matthew J. and Sirmans, C. F. and Turnbull, Geoffrey K., Optimal Title Search. Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 31, No. 1, Part 1. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=301995

Thomas J. Miceli (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1063
Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States
860-486-5810 (Phone)
860-486-4463 (Fax)

Matthew J. Baker

United States Naval Academy - Department of Economics ( email )

589 McNair Road
Annapolis, MD 21402
United States
410-293-6890 (Phone)
410-293-6899 (Fax)

C. F. Sirmans

Florida State University - Department of Risk Management, Insurance, Real Estate & Business Law ( email )

Tallahasse, FL 32306
United States
850 644-4076 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cob.fsu.edu/rmi

Geoffrey K. Turnbull

Georgia State University - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 3992
Atlanta, GA 30302-3992
United States
404-651-0419 (Phone)
404-651-2737 (Fax)

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