When you buy a house or a piece of land, the last thing you want is a cloud on the title. (I have learned all about this in law school!) You want to make sure the title is clean, and that there is no defect--such as a minor or a person of unsound mind signed the deed, or that one was signed out of fraud or duress, or that there are unknown heirs waiting in the wing to claim the property. The best advice is to use a title company, which can insure the owner and the lender against any possible claims arising out of the deed.
Find a Title Company Near Your Home by clicking on the link. You can search for companies based on such things as if they do online closings and extended hours. I looked on the site and found 46 companies near my zipcode!
I know when I buy a new date-licious home (hopefully sooner than later)I will certainly use a title company!