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What is an abstract?

An abstract is a full and complete record of all matters filed of public record that affect ownership rights to a particular piece of real property.


What is an abstract plant?

The stock in trade of an abstract company is its abstract plant, which consists of two elements: an organized collection of copies/images of instruments affecting real property which are filed for record at the offices of the county clerk and court clerk, and an index that is built independently of the county’s index of records. This index provides an efficient method for identifying and locating all records pertaining to a described piece of land to compile them into a certified Abstract of Title. While some abstract plants in Oklahoma still consist of actual paper copies and a set of file cards, many are now “virtual” abstract plants stored on computer equipment. The copies consist of scanned electronic images of the original documents, and the index is simply an elaborate database software program written for the specific purpose of abstracting.

 

What is the difference between an Abstract License and Certificate of Authority?

An Abstractor’s License is issued by the office of the OAB and provides an individual the right and authority to perform the duties of an employee of an abstract company. (Licensees must pass a test administered by the OAB, and are required to be under the supervision of a holder of a Certificate of Authority.) Because many Certificate Holders are part of a company that offers other real estate services in addition to abstracting services (primarily mortgage closing and title insurance services), it is common to have non-licensed employees within the company who are not required to be licensed.  Activities of a licensed abstractor can include: searching county records, acquisition of county records, indexing, order placement, chaining title, compiling an abstract, preparation of the certificate, pricing and invoicing the customer.

A Certificate of Authority is issued by the office of the OAB, and gives an abstract company the right and authority to be in the business of making and selling abstracts within a specified county, subject to the statutes and regulations governing the industry.


What is the difference between "platted" and "unplatted" land?

Platted land is a parcel of land divided into lots, as in a subdivision.  The platted lots are filed with the County Clerk in a "plat" book.  Unplatted land is any parcel of property which is not filed in a plat book and the legal description is described using a section, township and range.


Why are Oklahoma and Iowa the only two states that still do abstracting?

This is simply not true.  Every state requires some form of "abstracting" and the final product the "abstract".  Other states call it "evidence of title", "title report", "title search", or "title examination" -- and some states do call the search "abstracting."  The search process, no matter what it's called, has to be done, and is done in every state.


Do I have to have an abstract when I buy or sell property?

There are no state laws that require an abstract in order to purchase real estate, and none that require title insurance when purchasing property.  With few exceptions, lenders now require a title insurance lenders policy  as a condition of the loan.  If no lender is involved in the transaction, buyers and sellers sometimes use an abstract as an alternative to title insurance, in a manner of speaking.  Many buyers and sellers in cash transactions feel it is insurance enough to order an abstract, have it examined by a title examination attorney, and clear up any title problems discovered in the process.

 

What is “title insurance” and what is it used for?

Title insurance is a policy that provides protection against serious financial loss due to a defect in the title to the property purchased.

Tile insurance covers both claims arising out of title problems that should have been discovered in the public records, and those hidden defects that could not be discovered in the record, even with the most complete examination.  The policy covers any valid claim made against the insured’s title, and pays for the costs and legal expenses of defending against a title claim.


Does the Oklahoma Abstractors Board regulate title insurance or closing fees?

No.  The Oklahoma Insurance Commission regulates title insurance and they should be contacted with any questions concerning title insurance issues.  The closing industry is not regulated by any agency at this time.  The OAB does not have any jurisdiction over closing issues or closing companies.  The OAB can only address complaints dealing with abstracting issues of abstract licensees, permit holders or certificate of authority holders.
 

What should someone do if they have a complaint about an abstract company?

Any person having a complaint against an abstract company, which alleges violation or noncompliance with the Abstractors law or rules and regulations may initiate a complaint procedure by requesting a complaint form (found on this website), completing it and transmitting the complaint to the OAB at its office.

The complaint should contain a clear and concise statement of the facts to include the names, addresses and telephone numbers of persons involved; dates or approximate dates; and sufficient information to reveal the alleged violations of law and the facts on which they are based.
 

How does the OAB handle complaints?

After a complaint is initiated, the Board shall review the complaint to determine if the alleged acts of the respondent constitute a violation of the abstractor’s law and regulations, or OAB’s orders, and if it is reasonable that the claim can be supported with sufficient evidence.  If the complaint fails this review, the Board shall respond to the complainant, explaining the reason(s) why the complaint will not be acted upon. If the complaint passes the review, the Board may:

1.  Order the respondent to provide, within 10 working days, a written response to the allegations;

2.  Attempt an informal resolution;

3.   Initiate an investigation;

4.  Conduct an inspection of the abstract company; and/or

5.  Terminate the investigation when it appears there is no violation of law or rules and regulations, or when it clearly appears there is not sufficient evidence to support such a claim.

Upon conclusion of an investigation of a complaint, if agreement can not be reached on an informal resolution to the complaint, the complainant may exercise the right to a formal complaint procedure on the allegations against the abstractor.
 

How does one start a new abstract company?

In order to do business in Oklahoma as an abstract company, a company must have a Certificate of Authority (“certificate”), issued by the Oklahoma Abstractors Board, which gives a company the right to be in the abstract business within the county for which the certificate is issued. Prior to receiving a certificate, applicants must show their company has access to a complete abstract plant.
 

Permit phase, building phase, certificate phase

There are three basic phases to starting a new abstract company in Oklahoma: The permit application phase includes submission of an application for a Permit To Develop An Abstract Plant (“permit”).

A checklist of required items for the permit application can be found on this website or obtained from the OAB. Staff is also available to answer any questions that may arise when completing the application. Once the application is submitted with all required elements, the OAB considers the permit application for approval or disapproval.

Once a permit is issued, the holder enters the second phase - the plant-building phase. A permit, just like the certificate, is valid for one year, and in order to renew, the permit holder must complete an application for renewal. The permit gives the holder similar rights as abstractors to county records for the purpose of building the plant. However, it does not give the holder the authority to engage in the business of abstracting.

The third phase is the certificate application phase, which includes 1) submission of the application, 2) passing a plant inspection performed by a team of volunteer abstractors and Board members and 3) resolution of any challenge brought by anyone who protests the issuance of the certificate. Once issued, the certificate gives the holder all rights and responsibilities of an abstractor, including doing business as an abstractor within the county.

Last Modified on 10/24/2012