September/October 2005

Technology is putting more and more information at our fingertips daily and we should all rejoice at the increased ease of finding important data. However, a good abstractor would never take the information found on the internet as reliable. A “hands on abstractor” must confirm this information using hard-core research experience.


One reader stated, “The value we add as title examiners to the process is adding the skill of reading, reviewing, analyzing, interpreting and reporting the documents that affect a title. Existing inefficiencies in processing at Registry offices takes us away from the value we add and the efficiency of web based data is increasing our ability to spend more time analyzing and reporting and handling overall quality control matters”.


Another reader stated, “The title industry has forgotten how important we are. We realize that times are changing and the faster you can get something done and the money you can save is important, but what happened to doing it correctly?”  The reader goes on to say, “Just an old abstractor seeing the changes in this business and thinking about the person buying the insurance, what are they really getting? Please keep writing and shouting in the wind.”


But, let’s change the subject.  Let’s talk about the internet and what impact it’s likely to have on an abstractor’s business  I hope I have your attention this month because the subjects of privacy and the internet have joined together to undermine the best prospects an abstractor has  to charge reasonable for the type and quality title report we’ve proudly delivered for many years.   


Seasoned abstractors understand the importance of thorough research and careful inspection.  How many times have you found that seemingly tiny “issue” in a record that protects a title insurer from significant liability?  Maybe it’s an exception, but it happens far too often to be overlooked.


Example:  Your client tells you that the owner of record is “A. Smith” because the Internet says so.  You locate the vesting deed and discover that the title is vested in “A. Smith, for life”. Your little “find” is NOT on the internet and your expert eye saved the client from rendering a bad policy.  The information on the Internet was correct, but not accurate.


The internet--the newest resource for finding vast quantities of information—is not always accurate.  It’s fast and cheap compared with the shoe leather and brainpower required to inspect and identify nuances that change the results.  It’s both the friend and the adversary of the diligent abstractor, reducing the time and effort of preliminary efforts while increasing the possibility of error where trusted without audit.


The Internet is here to stay and abstractors must learn to use it properly in conjunction with research inside the courthouse.  The organizations that require title reports and currently employ abstractors must be made to recognize the value the abstractor’s experience brings to their final work.  Without the unified voices of NALTEA members explaining why the internet alone cannot do the job, we might all want to begin freshening up our resumes.


So, what do you think?  Am I shouting into the wind?  I’d like to hear what other members of NALTEA have to say on the subject of internet searches and how they will impact our jobs in the future.  Write me at



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