Every time you buy a property, a title search should be completed. A title search, also called a title exam, refers to the process where the title history and public records regarding a property are search from the present, backwards for a stipulated period of time. This time period is generally 40 to 60 years. The title work is examined to determine several things. You want to make sure the property was properly conveyed between all owners in the chain of ownership and see if any interests or rights of ownership have been severed from the chain of title. Any unsatisfied judgments and liens against the property will be discovered along with whether anyone else that says that have a claim to or against the property. Public records are used to help make these determinations.
A title abstract is essentially the same things as a title search except that it does not stop 40 to 60 years back, it continues the history to the point of original land grants from the government or to a point where records are no longer available. This can be helpful when researching rights and interests that can be severed from a property right such as mineral rights that may have been severed many years ago. Some places include mineral rights and some do not. Abstracts are, generally, more expensive and take longer to complete that title searches.
Byrne & Associates, PLLC, can advise you on which is the best option for you given the market.