An Overview of Preliminary Title Reports: What You Need to Know

What is a Preliminary Title Report?

A Preliminary Title Report, also known as a Prelim, is a document that provides crucial information about a property’s title before a real estate transaction takes place. It is usually prepared by a title company or an attorney and serves as an initial step in the title insurance process. The report contains valuable details that help the buyer and lender understand the property’s ownership history and any potential issues that may affect the transfer of title.

Understanding the Contents of a Preliminary Title Report

When it comes to a Preliminary Title Report, several sections provide important information. Let’s take a closer look at each of these sections:

Property Information:

  • Legal Description: This includes the exact boundaries and dimensions of the property.
  • Parcel Number: A unique identifier assigned to the property by the county or municipality.
  • Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN): A number used for tax assessment purposes.

Ownership Information:

This section provides details about the current property owner(s) and any legal description of their ownership interest.


Encumbrances are any claims or liens against the property that could impact its marketability. The Preliminary Title Report may include the following types of encumbrances:

  • Mortgages and Deeds of Trust: These are loans secured by the property.
  • Judgments: Court orders requiring payment of a debt.
  • Tax Liens: Unpaid taxes that can result in government claims against the property.
  • Easements: Rights to use a portion of the property by someone other than the owner.
  • Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs): Rules and limitations that govern the use and development of the property.

Current Vesting:

This section outlines how the property is currently owned, whether it is held individually, jointly, or by a business entity.

Legal Description:

A detailed written description, including measurements and boundaries, that uniquely identifies the property.

Exceptions and Requirements:

This section lists any conditions or stipulations that must be fulfilled to proceed with the transfer of title smoothly. It may include requirements such as paying off liens or obtaining releases for specific encumbrances.

Name and Schedule of Documents:

This part includes a list of recorded documents related to the property that have been found during the title search.

Why is a Preliminary Title Report Important?

A Preliminary Title Report is a critical document in any real estate transaction. It provides essential information about the property’s title, allowing the buyer to make an informed decision about the purchase. Here are several reasons why a Preliminary Title Report is important:

  1. Identifies Potential Issues: The report reveals any encumbrances, liens, or other claims against the property that could pose challenges to a smooth transfer of ownership.
  2. Protects the Buyer and Lender: Title insurance can be obtained based on the information in the Preliminary Title Report, providing protection against unforeseen claims that may arise in the future.
  3. Clarifies Property Boundaries: The legal description of the property contained in the report ensures that the buyer understands the exact boundaries and dimensions before making a purchase.
  4. Facilitates Resolutions: If the Preliminary Title Report reveals issues, it gives the buyer an opportunity to address these concerns with the seller or involve legal professionals to resolve any potential title problems.


In conclusion, a Preliminary Title Report is a crucial component of a real estate transaction. It provides valuable information about a property’s ownership history, any encumbrances, and potential title issues that may arise during the transfer. Understanding the contents of a Preliminary Title Report and addressing any concerns identified in the report can help ensure a smooth and secure transaction for buyers and lenders alike.