Often times, a preliminary title report will show recent transfers. Generally, the prelim lists those made in the last two years. If it’s not on your title report, you should request it from your escrow officer.
Why are previous transfers relevant? Frequent transfers are a red flag that any prospective buyer should be wise to pay attention to. If they are from an individual to their trust, that is fairly common. If you see a back and forth transaction between the same individual multiple times, watch out! That could a flag for fraudulent transfers.
Sometimes a debtor will deed a property between family members or their spouse in order to hinder, delay or defeat creditor collections of judgments. In California, a fraudulent transfer can be set aside by the Court many years after the discovery of the fraud.
Other times, what may appear to be an innocent transfer between family members may also be the result of elder financial abuse–and those transfers are generally void ab initio, even as to bona fide purchasers.
Don’t take what is on the public record at face value. If you are a potential investor, purchaser, bidder or lender–it is prudent to make inquiry and see an experienced professional who spot these potential pitfalls and minimize your risk.