Abstract of Title

What exactly IS an Abstract of Title?

An Abstract of Title is a book that contains the documents that have been recorded with the County against a specific property.  This book is created by a licensed title company in the County where the property is located.  The legal description is searched and the documents are compiled into this book.  Each name that has had an interest in title is searched for any judgments or liens and the real estate taxes are checked for payment or not.  Once all searches are completed and the Abstract is done, a Certificate is printed, signed, sealed and attached to the original Abstract. 

Keep track of your original Abstract, as it will need to be updated when you are refinancing or selling the property.  A copy is NOT an original.


How much does it cost to update or continue an abstract or to create a new one?

Every Abstract is unique to the property and there is no “flat fee”.  The fees are set by state statute, NDCC 43-01-18, and are charged out as follows:

  • Certificate = $150
  • Entry (per entry) = $15
  • Name (per name) = $10
  • More than one section = $15
  • More than one block = $15

A continuation will cost much less than creating a brand new Abstract of Title, so make sure to keep your Abstract in a safe place!


How long does it take to update my abstract?

For simply an Abstract, whether it is an update or a new on is created, approximately 3 weeks, depending on current workload.  If we complete it sooner, you’ll be the first to know!

When financing is involved, we coordinate with the lender to ensure they have the most up-to-date title work as close to closing as they need, so time frames for that will vary.


Did you keep my Abstract or can I get a copy of my Abstract?

We don’t typically keep Abstracts or copies of Abstracts.  Each Abstract must be an original, with a signed and sealed certificate from a licensed North Dakota title company, per ND law.

If you closed at our office, the Abstract of Title was given to you at that time and may very likely be inside a maroon vinyl envelope with our information printed on the front.  

If you closed at your bank or with your attorney, it should have been given to you; however, some banks will hold on to them while you still have a mortgage and some attorneys will keep them for you.


Attorney’s Title Opinion

What is an Attorney’s Title Opinion and why do I need it?

An Attorney’s Title Opinion is a document prepared by a licensed ND attorney.  The attorney reads through the Abstract of Title and notes the ownership of the property and any other matters regarding the property (any liens, mortgages, judgments or other requirements).

North Dakota Century Code, Section 26.1-20-05 provides that a title insurance company may not issue a title insurance policy unless the title evidence is received from the abstracter and an attorney licensed in this state has examined the title evidence.

An Attorney’s Title Opinion is required in the State of North Dakota in order to issue Title Insurance.

If we are conducting a closing with or without Title Insurance, we do require an Attorney’s Title Opinion be done, so that any matters listed can be properly addressed at closing and clear title is transferred.



A few of our most frequent questions are listed here, but please see our Sellers Corner and Buyers Corner for more specific information!


What are the fees for closing?

Fees for each closing will be different. There are many different services that are provided for different types of transactions.

Please click here for our Fees. 


Who pays which fees for the transaction?

Payment of closing fees can be negotiated between the Seller and Buyer and should be set out in the Purchase Agreement.  In our area, fees are generally paid as follows (list is non-inclusive, there could be other charges):


  • Abstract of Title
  • Preparation of Deed
  • ½ of closing fee
  • Courier fee for any payoffs
  • Outgoing Wire Fee for proceeds


  • ½ of closing fee
  • Attorney’s Title Opinion
  • Recording fee for Deed   
  • Title Insurance Commitment / Policy / Search fees
  • Location Drawing for Title Insurance Purposes
  • Incoming Wire Fees
  • Outgoing Wire Fee for proceeds


When can we close?

Cash Transaction:

We typically could close a cash transaction within 10-15 business days or so, pending scheduling. 


Lender Involved: 

If there is a Lender involved, there are many things to consider and the closing date will depend on when the Lender is ready on their end.  We are under the Lender instruction for completion of title work and scheduling of the closing.


Where does the closing take place and how long does it take?

Most closings are held here at Williams County Abstract Company.  A cash closing will be scheduled for 30 minutes, a lender involved closing is scheduled for 1 hour.


Do I have to attend the closing?  What if I am unable to be there?

We encourage all parties to attend the closing.

We know that circumstances may arise that don’t allow you to be here on closing day.  If you cannot be here on your set date and time, please let us know as soon as you can.   We will make arrangements for you to stop in to sign early, we can email your docs to be returned to us via UPS or FedEx, or we can coordinate a Courtesy Closing with a Notary Public in another location. 

Wherever you are, we can make it work!


What do I need to bring with me to closing?

BUYER - When you check in at our front desk on the day of closing, you will be asked for the following:

  • Photo ID
    • Driver’s License or Passport are the most common. A government issued photo ID is also acceptable.
    • Must be valid and unexpired.
    • We are required to have a copy in our file.
    • Some lenders require 2 forms, so please bring both.
  • Funds to close
    • Cashier’s check made payable to Williams County Abstract Company, for funds less than $50,000 OR   
    • A wire directly to our escrow account is acceptable, but will need to be received by us prior to closing.  Please see our Wire Information page for more information. 
  • Your Spouse! 
    • All parties on the loan, along with their spouses, will need to sign documents at closing.


SELLER - When you check in at our front desk on the day of closing, you will be asked for the following:

  • Photo ID
    • Driver’s License or Passport are the most common.  A government issued photo ID is also acceptable.
    • Must be valid and unexpired.
    • We are required to have a copy in our file.
  • Home
    • Key, garage door openers, etc.
    • Code for alarm system or locks, along with instruction manuals if you still have them!
  • Your Spouse! 
    • All parties in title, along with their spouses, will need to sign documents at closing.


How much money will I need to bring to closing?

Funds required for closing will be determined when the Settlement Statement and Closing Disclosure are approved by the lender, if there is one.  A buyer will also receive the Closing Disclosure from the Lender at least 3 days prior to closing and will be required to sign for receipt of that.  Your lender or realtor will let you know the final amount a day or two before closing.

For a cash transaction, our closing agent will send out a Settlement Statement to all parties involved a couple of days before closing for review.  The funds required to close will be shown there and our closing agent will confirm with you.

The Closing Disclosure is a breakdown of all the fees involved with your transaction.  For an overview of the Closing Disclosure, please view this link:  www.consumerfinance.gov/owning-a-home/closing-disclosure/ 


How do I bring funds to close?

Funds to close must be in the form of a wire (for any amount) or a cashier’s check (if the full amount due is less than $50,000), per the North Dakota Good Funds Law. 

If you decide to wire the funds, please contact your closer directly for wiring instructions.  Also, make sure to check out our Wire Information page for more information.


Title Insurance

What is Title Insurance?

Title Insurance offers protection from defects that may threaten the title to your home.  Even the most skilled title professionals may not locate all issues associated with the property.  Some things, like title issues that are due to filing errors, forgeries or undisclosed heirs, are very hard to identify.  The Title Insurance Policy will help protect you from some of these issues that could come up at a later date.

Title Insurance is little understood by most consumers.  In fact, a recent survey by the American Land Title Association revealed that most buyers think of title insurance as “just another fee” involved with purchasing their home.  They have no idea what it does or how it protects them. The process of purchasing a home is so complex and there are many small details that a buyer relies on other parties to take care of.

The search of the records of a property is compiled (Abstract of Title), then examined by an attorney to list out any ownership issues, any liens or encumbrances and list any easements, among other things.  Once that has been completed, a Title Insurance Commitment can be prepared.  

One out of three searches reveal a title or public record defect that’s fixed before the transaction closes, according to the American Land Title Association.  If we locate a defect during our search, we take care to correct that defect before closing on the property, so the buyer is given a clear title. 


What are some typical problems that might be found?

Maybe a previous owner didn’t pay the real estate taxes and there is now a lien, or a lien by a sub-contractor who performed work on the property and was never paid.  An unpaid mortgage that wasn’t in the record. 

Sometimes there are problems that go undetected during a title search, such as fraud or forgery, a mistake in the public record, or an unknown heir claiming ownership.   These are things that even the best title agent will not be able to find, since they aren’t in any public records.  If this occurs, you would file a claim with your title insurance company.


Why do I need Title Insurance and what types of policies are available?

There two most common policies that are issued are a Lender’s Policy and an Owner’s Policy.

8 Misconceptions about Title Insurance


Here are a couple of short videos from one of our underwriters, First American Title Insurance:





This is a fantastic list of some of the things that a Title Policy can cover!



And a couple of example videos!






What is the difference between a Lender’s Policy and an Owner’s Policy?  Do you provide both of these to consumers?

A Lender’s Policy only protects the Lender’s interest if a problem should arise in title.  The policy remains in place for the length of their Mortgage.  Most Lenders will require a Lender’s Policy when they issue you a loan, depending on the loan type.  The cost is based on the amount of the loan.

An Owner’s Policy protects the Owner’s interest against covered title problems for the entire ownership of the property, including heirs if the property is passed down.  This provides you assurance that we will stand behind you monetarily and with legal defense if it is needed in order to remedy a covered title problem after you buy your home.  It is a one-time fee at closing when you purchase the property, based on the purchase price.  This is an optional purchase, but wouldn’t you want to be covered in the event that you need to be? 

Yes, our office can prepare different types of Policies for your transaction.


Why do I need an Abstract AND an Owner’s Policy of Title Insurance?

An Abstract of Title is a compilation of all the documents indexed against the captioned property in the office of the County Recorder, along with a search for judgments, taxes, child support and any other liens that may affect the property.  Basically, a book of the history of the property title.  This is your evidence of title.

An Owner’s Policy is a title insurance policy that protects you from any loss that could result from defects that already exist in the chain of title to the property.  It is not a title search, nor does it replace one.  You must have a currently certified title evidence, which is reviewed by an attorney in order for a Title Insurance Policy to be prepared, per North Dakota Century Code, Section 26.1-20-05.


How much does title insurance cost?

The fees for title insurance are based upon the loan amount and the purchase price of the property.

We underwrite for First American Title Company and Old Republic National Title Insurance Company.  You may use their online rate calculators to figure the cost:


Can I get a copy of my existing Owner’s Policy?

The original Owner’s Policy will be mailed to you within about 60 days of closing.  You should place this document with your Abstract of Title and other closing papers in a safe place.  A copy is retained in our office.  Once you pay off your loan, you may dispose of your loan documents, but KEEP your Abstract of Title and the Owner’s Policy.

Products & Services
Title Insurance Rate Calculators Downloadable Forms

Please return any of the forms you use listed above by secure email to Williams County Abstract at Abstract@WilliamsAbstract.com or fax 701.572.8068.

Our forms are in pdf format and require Adobe Reader. Click here to download it.