How to Choose a Title Insurance Company

October 30, 2015

Choosing the right escrow officer or title company to handle your sale can mean the difference between a smooth and rapid closing or a complicated, delayed, frustrating closing. Most often either the buyer or seller may choose the closing agent, depending on your local custom, but whoever it is, there are several important criteria which should be considered.

Selecting an escrow closing agent is a choice which should be made carefully. This choice will be one of the most important steps in your escrow and closing process as you will be working closely with this person, often daily, throughout the entire period of your real estate sale or purchase. Whoever you choose, will be charged with complying with the terms and conditions of your contract, and they will keep your funds safely deposited in an escrow account. They should strive to be as confidential as possible, answer your questions, and clear up any title problems which may arise.

Let’s look at four important criteria to consider when choosing an escrow officer or title attorney. The first criteria is the reputation of the company in the community. The first place to begin your search is to ask your realtor, lender, friends and acquaintances who have had recent experience with real estate transactions to recommend a company or an individual they have been pleased with, one who met all their expectations. Inquire among them as to the reputation of the individual officer or title company in your local community. Ask if the escrow agent they recommend returns phone calls promptly, explains details in everyday, understandable language, inspires confidence, and is knowledgeable and acts in a professional, courteous manner.

The second criteria to consider is the overall experience of the escrow agent you are choosing.  Your escrow agent should be professional knowledgeable, efficient, friendly, and confidential.  Above all else, ask lots of questions when interviewing your potential escrow closing agent.  Ask about their previous experience and the types of transactions they have handled.  Do they have a good working relationship with lenders and are they experienced in handling loan documents?  Do they have experience in handling possible title problems that may be found in the title report?

The next criteria you should consider is the location of the office of the closing or escrow agent, and/or the availability of a mobile closer.  Since you may have to visit the escrow agent’s office in person at least once and perhaps several times to prove your identity, sign numerous papers, and deliver or pick up a check, try to select an agent with an office conveniently located near your home or work so you can reach it during normal business hours in just a few minutes.

The final criteria to consider is the fees that your escrow or closing agent is going to charge. Fees charged by title insurance agents and closing/escrow companies do vary, and the decision on who pays which fees will also vary from location within a state.  Whoever is responsible for paying for each individual fee is generally determined well ahead of the closing and is usually set out in your real estate contract.  You will want to try to select the most reputable and professional escrow or closing agent you can find, combined with the one who also charges the most reasonable fees.  Several fees, such as title insurance policy premiums, closing protection letter fees, and recording fees will be the same statewide. Other fees charged by title insurance and closing/escrow agents can vary widely from company to company and region to region.

You can expect your escrow officer or closing agent to do several specific things for you. Included in the cost of the closing and title fees will be the following: ordering of the preliminary title report, securing payoff demands/and or beneficiary statements from existing lenders and requesting full releases of any deed of trust or mortgages to be paid off at closing, obtaining instructions and loan documents from the new lender, obtaining documents to clear any outstanding liens against the property, issuing receipts for deposits of documents and holding funds in a separate account, prorating taxes, interest, rents, etc., preparing buyer’s and seller’s escrow instructions and seeing that all documents are properly executed, determining when everything is going to be completed so the transaction can close, obtaining title insurance for the buyer and or the lender, recording the necessary documents, such as conveyance deeds, deeds of trust, powers of attorney, and releases, when all the conditions of the transaction have been met, and finally, disbursing all funds to the proper parties, delivering documents and preparing the final closing statements.

After looking at the reputation of the escrow or title company in the community, the managerial experience of the office, the location of the office and the fees charged, choose the closing or escrow agent that you would feel most comfortable working with, asking questions, going over documents and discussing all aspects of your closing process with in detail.  Your choice of escrow or closing agent may be one of the most important decisions you make to arrive at your final goal of a timely real estate sale or purchase.

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