What is a municipal search and why does it matter when buying a house in Connecticut?

A municipal search can save a buyer trouble by detecting outstanding issues with a property

Greenwich Town Hall

Published on

December 31, 2022


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A municipal search is an item typically included in a buyer’s costs at closing, but what is it and why does it matter?

We always encourage anyone closing on a transaction to understand every item they are charged for, so here is a quick explainer for municipal searches.  

What is a municipal search?

A municipal search is a due diligence done to uncover issues that a property has outstanding with the local municipality. These can include unclosed building permits and unresolved fire, building, and health code violations.

These are all issues that would become the new owner’s responsibility after closing, so buyers should look to identify and resolve them beforehand.

The municipal lien search is usually performed in conjunction with a title search. While the title search is normally performed to uncover liens or encumbrances recorded on the land record, it will not find issues that are not recorded on the land record, like currently outstanding permits and code violations.

Who performs the municipal search?

The same vendor that performs the title search performs the municipal search. Both are usually ordered at the same time.

How long does a municipal search take?

On average, you should give 2-3 weeks for a municipal search, but the duration can vary between towns.

For a municipal search, the vendor will contact each relevant town department — fire, building, health, etc. — and request information as part of its search. The response time for these requests will depend on the town and department.

The time it takes to complete a title search is shorter, because the vendor only needs to examine land records, which are more readily available.

How much does a municipal search cost?

The search will typically cost $250-$400 and will be included in the buyer’s closing costs that are paid at closing. This charge is separate from the title search fee, which is also included at closing.

Need help navigating a home purchase?

At Pederson Real Estate Law, attorney Charlene Pederson has over 25 years of experience guiding Connecticut clients through residential real estate transactions. If you need an experienced, attentive attorney for your closing, reach out today for a free consultation.

About the author

Pederson Real Estate Law

Pederson Real Estate Law is a boutique law firm based in Greenwich, Connecticut. We provide experienced, efficient legal services for clients in residential real estate closings —purchases, sales, and refinances.