Title search

Found a rehab property in which the owner is willing to owner finance. Do I need to do a title search at this point before making an offer/closing the deal?
Besides the obvious (run numbers, inspect property, etc.) what else do I need to do to ensure a smooth transaction and/or protect myself?

You don’t have to do a title search before you make the offer. You make the offer continoent upon the seller providing clear title. Title search is done after offer, before closing.

Earnest money should go into escrow not directly to the seller.

You would want to check with the county assessor to at least verify that the seller owns the property before you get too far. But that is not a title search.

I want title insurance when I buy, so the escrow company does the title search for me and issues the insurance.

Appreciate it.
Anyone else with suggestions?