Benchmark Title Company, LLC


What is a Title Search

John Howe

I will do my best to explain what a title search entails and why it is so important to the issuance of your Title Insurance Policy, and maintaining all the accuracy we can to avoid any difficult issues for you or your client.


It is called a “Title Search” because that is exactly what we do, search the public records.  There are various records and areas we, as a title insurer, need to review and determine what may effect the property we are considering for insurance.  Some people in the industry may use the term “Run” the names or “Run” the property.  In the business of titles, this is synonomys with “Search.”  If you are in a conversation with any title professional and do not understand a term that is used, please feel free to ask to have that term explained or defined.  We love to talk about our business.


The first place we search is the Recorder's Office to determine who legally owns the “PIQ” (Property in Question).  In the process of determining the record owner, we also review all the prior recorded documents related to the PIQ, as well as any that may have been placed of record subsequent to the time the present owner took title to the property.  At this time we determine what, if any, of these documents we need to have sent to our examining staff to review the potential effect they may have on the ownership and insurability of the property.  I will explain the process and operation of the “Examining Staff” in a future issue. 


We also search the records in the County Treasurer's office to be certain that the real estate taxes have been paid and that there are no past due taxes that may be subject to late penalties or even worse, may have been sold for failure to pay in full when due. The search staff also checks to see if there are any special assessments that may be due.


Our search staff also is responsible for checking the County Clerk's records to determine whether, to name just a few items, if there are any divorces of record involving the sellers, any judgements against any of the parties, or any open cases pending.

These are just the primary areas that we review, search, or run in the public records to be in a position to confidently report the status of title to make it clear to all the parties what needs to be done or to provide the buyer with clear title to the property at closing.

In the State of Illinois all County Recorder's offices are required to keep their records in the form of a Grantor / Grantee index, which means that all of our searches are done using the names of the parties in title.  Sometimes that can get a bit unwieldy for searches on persons with common names so you can surely see the need to get accurate information from all the parties, such as middle names and social security numbers.  We also search the PIQ by the legal description and the Parcel ID Number.   

Many of the counties we search are somewhat automated and provide records on a computer that can be quickly searched and accessed, but in some cases they have only a few years worth of information online. So a fair amount of our time searching is still done by hand, flipping through very large, and sometimes handwritten, indexes in order to find a document number, so that we know which book or microfiche reel contains an actual copy of the documents we need to review.  

Stay tuned for next week's Title Tip, which will explain what we do after searching a property.

Any questions can be directed to Benchmark Title at 618-239-3750. Please feel free to call or email:  

John Howe

Doreen Miller, Esq.
Commercial Division Manager

Sarah Holdener, Esq.
General Counsel,
VP Production

Michelle Null
VP Escrow Operations

Serving you from three convenient locations:

Main Office:
1124 Hartman Lane
Shiloh, IL 62221
Ph: 618-239-3750
Escrow Fax: 618-239-3707
Title Fax: 618-239-3757
Fax Orders: 618-310-1589
President: John Howe

318 North Main St.
Columbia, IL 62236
Ph: 618-281-9700
Fax: 618-281-9705
Manager: Randi Schur

4215 S. State Rte 159
Glen Carbon, IL 62034
Ph: 618-288-1695
Fax: 618-288-1852
Manager: Sara Sowell

Save the Date!

Our Glen Carbon branch has been serving you for 2 years.   Mark October 4th on your calendar and plan to join us for drinks and hors d'oeuvres from 5:00 - 7:00pm in our Glen Carbon office to celebrate the occassion.  Please RSVP to 618-288-1695 or by email to Sara at, or Bethany at  We hope to see you there!

Did you say free?

Be the first in your office to try out, Benchmark Title's new FREE online transaction management system. Why waste time making status phone calls or standing by the fax waiting for your title commitment when you can get what you need instantly from your own computer. Visit for more information or call April Tolan, our SureClose Specialist, at 618-239-3750 for your sign-on so you can start saving yourself time and money today. We'll even give you and your clients a free CD at closing containing copies of their closing documents.

Give me my policy!

Did you know that lenders and home buyers now receive their title policies at the closing table? Call Michelle Null, VP Escrow Operations, to learn more about this exciting new program.

Ready to refi?

Lenders and homeowners will want to hear about our fantastically low new refinance rates. Call today for a quote!

Why wait?

You can place your next title order now by clicking here.


   Employee Spotlight

 Toni Casson

Toni Casson has been with Benchmark Title Company since the day we opened our doors on February 15, 1998, and is excited about our upcoming 10 year anniversary in business.  Toni serves as Lead Title Searcher, searching titles on residential and commercial properties in the counties of St. Clair, Madison, Monroe, Clinton, Washington, Jersey, Perry, Randolph, Bond and wherever else we can find to send her.   With her nearly 14 years of title searching experience Toni is a rare gem in terms of her knowledge, experience and ability to find and resolve title problems.  Toni lives in Waterloo with her husband, Jim Casson, and their cat Harold. 

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