If you are getting ready to buy a house, there are a lot of things that you need to do. One of those things is making sure that the seller has a clear title to the house.
The title to the house states who owns it. A clear title means that there aren't any liens or mortgages against the house and that the seller can legally sell it to you. If there are mortgages and liens against the house, that will have to be dealt with at closing or prior to closing. Searching the title will also allow you to find out any other discrepancies, like a faked deed, hidden heirs, or incorrect property lines. Any of these problems could stop your sale or turn around and bite you in the behind later on and could invalidate your sale.
A title search is the best way to make sure that none of those things exist. You can do it yourself if you want to and you have the time. It's important to realize that you aren't going to find a piece of paper that says title on it, like when you buy a car. It's different for a house. The title is a legal term that covers all the rights a person has to own that property. Instead, you are going to find papers like deeds, records of property lines and parcel numbers, and all of the previous owners. You are going to have to go to the county assessor's office as well as doing things like searching online to find out the information.
While you can do it yourself, you don't have to. There are title search companies which can do it for you. Those companies have access to databases that you can't easily access. They also have people who are hired specifically to do title searches, so they will know all the ways in which a title could be cloudy and where they will need to look in order to clear it up and find out the problems. Many title search companies also offer title insurance which can protect you if something hidden does show up, even after extensive searching.
When you decide to buy a house, you want to make sure that you can actually own the house. Making sure that there is a clear title to the house will help make your sale go through easier and will make sure that you legally own the house.