Credit: Elvis Swift

Why you need it: “You need the deed to show evidence of ownership,” says Michael Landsman, a real estate attorney at the New York City law firm of Holm & O’Hara. This would be necessary if you’re selling or refinancing your house or property, or transferring the title for estate-planning purposes.

Where to get a new one: Check with the lawyer who handled your closing. (When your deed is recorded by the county, your copy is returned to either you or your attorney.) If your attorney doesn’t have the title, call the county clerk’s office, where deeds are usually recorded. You could also hire a title company to do the search for you. Look in the Yellow Pages under “Title Search.”

What you need to get it: The street address of the property. “If you want better service, also provide the tax map ID number,” says Jim McEvoy of the LandAmerica Financial Group, in New York City. There is no fee if you request the title yourself (there may be a small charge for copying); title companies usually charge around $100 to do a search.

How long it takes: The process takes about 10 business days in most cases, says McEvoy.