Have You Ever Toured a Title Plant?

Title Insurance with First American Title

If you’ve been in real estate for awhile hopefully you’ve taken a plant tour at one or more of your local title companies. You’ll find most of them have very detailed land records that predate statehood.

I was in Yakima last week for work and during my visit I had a some time to hangout in the back plant (where the really old records are) at First American Title. It was a wonderful walk through time and fun to peruse the old land records of Yakima County, Washington.

Land lease recorded in 1899, Yakima County, Washington.

Recording of a land lease dated October 17, 1898 in Yakima County, Washington.

When I started in the title business most of our records were hard copy stored in books and boxes arranged geographically by date. The new recordings were on microfiche rolls back to the early 70’s and some copies of the old hand posted track books and documents were on microfiche sheets.

As a history buff it was fascinating to search through these old records all the way back to the first transaction that created a parcel of land. I did a few projects that took me as far back as the first pioneers to settle here in the Pacific Northwest.

Deed recording in 1899, Yakima County, Washington.

Property sale by Deed dated January 31, 1903 in Yakima County, Washington. 

I learned to decipher (or ‘run out’ as we say in the biz) metes and bounds legal descriptions that used measurements like rods and chains and marked the plottings with poles and rocks and witness trees. It's amazing to me that all these years later we find them so accurate. Not perfect, especially over mountainous and rough terrain, but darn close.

Tract book from the 1950's, Yakima County, Washington.

A Tract Book for keeping property title histories from the 1950's in Yakima County, Washington.

Most title companies are more than happy to give their clients a plant tour. Experienced title officers, examiners, and searchers are a wealth of knowledge about the land in your county and how it came to be what it is today.

I did a post back in 2010 that shares a research project I did many years ago... If you like these land histories follow the link. The Shumway Farm

Posted by

René Fabre

"Where there's conversation, there's opportunity."

Please Note - The views expressed herein reflect only the individual’s personal views and are not the views of the author’s employer.

The Blackberry Chronicles, a blog by Rene Fabre and his travels around the Greater Pacific Northwest and beyond. Connect w/ Rene Fabre on Google+. Rene Fabre on Twitter. Rene Fabre writes reviews on Yelp. Rene Fabre on Linkedin.com The Audiorium YouTube Channel by Rene Fabre. Facebook.com/renefabre Rene Fabre loves digital photography and here are his shares on Flickr. Rene Fabre is a musician and composer and shares some of his orginal music and recordings on Soundcloud. Rene Fabre shares his interests on Pinterest.

Comments (8)

Jimmy Faulkner
Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage - Wantagh, NY
The Best Of St. Augustine

Rene:  I love history and you just gave me a great tour of your county and what the old records looked like. The changes on how we keep records has been fascinating, showing the growth we have gone through.

Oct 08, 2013 09:01 AM
Rene Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
Marketing in the Digital Age

Hi Jimmy... It is amazing how record keeping has changed over the last 100 years! I really love digging through these old title plants. They tell such a story.

Oct 08, 2013 09:30 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

Touring a title plant is like going back in history. I once found my dad's childhood residence by going back in title...

Oct 08, 2013 09:41 AM
Rene Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
Marketing in the Digital Age

Hi Paul... It's cool, I did that too for my Grandparent's home in Renton and our old home in Earlington.

Oct 08, 2013 10:00 AM
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

Wow, we have come a long way, but it is sure fun to take a look back at some of this history that you have described.

Oct 08, 2013 07:37 PM
Rene Fabre
First American Title - Seattle, WA
Marketing in the Digital Age
Hi Joe... talk about analog! And to think it was pen, not pencil...
Oct 08, 2013 10:00 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

The level of detail in each document is a testament to the care put into things in the old days. :)


Love and light,


Oct 10, 2013 01:54 PM
Lisa Brown
Realty Associates - League City, TX

Do title companies still give title plant tours?


Dec 20, 2015 12:57 PM