How to Choose a Title Insurance Company //

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.

Why Do I Need A Title Insurance Company? //

Generally, a title insurance policy protects against loss due to certain defects in the title to your property.  A lender’s title insurance policy only protects the interests of the lender, and does not provide any protection to you as the owner of the property being purchased.  An owner’s title insurance policy may be purchased to protect against potential risks that may arise as a result of certain title defects.  Such potential risks may include, but are not limited to:

–      Fraud/False Impersonation

–      Forgery of documents including Deeds or Wills

–      Liens for unpaid debts, including court judgments or unpaid state or federal taxes

–      Mistakes in recording title documents

–      Missing or undisclosed heirs/claimants

–      Invalid Deeds (i.e. Deed executed by minors or persons of unsound mind)

When a title search is ordered for a real estate transaction, the title insurance agency will perform a search of the land records for such things as the history of conveyances and liens on the property, plus any easements, restrictions or covenants which may affect its use.  Also, the title company will search public records for information on the seller(s) and buyer(s)/borrower(s) involved in the transaction for things such as tax liens, judgments and other court actions which can affect title to the property.

Once the research on a transaction is complete, the title insurance agent will issue a commitment for title insurance.  This commitment contains three parts.  Schedule “A” of the commitment tells the effective date and time of the commitment and the proposed insureds and insurance amounts of the policies to be issued.  It also gives information on the current ownership of the property and its legal description.  Schedule “B-1” of the commitment is a list of requirements to be met before or at closing for a title insurance policy to be issued.  Typically this will include releases of all existing liens found on the property, the conveyance of the property from the seller to the buyer and the execution of any new liens by the buyer.  This schedule may also include any other special requirements specific to your transaction.  Schedule “B-2” of the commitment will list all exceptions to coverage which may appear on the final title policy.  This list would typically include such things as future real estate taxes, easements, restrictions and covenants.

The title insurance agent will issue, along with their commitment for title insurance, an invoice outlining their charges for the transaction.  These charges may include:

Title Search: This is a complete history and check of the chain of title to the subject property as described above.

Title Insurance Premium: This is the insurance premium you are paying for the policy(ies) to be issued. The amount charged is based on the amount insured (loan amount and/or purchase price) and is based on rates filed with the Missouri Department of Insurance.

Title Service Fee: The amount charged is based upon the dollar amount of the transaction. This fee covers search examination and file processing costs.

Purchase Closing Fee: This fee applies to purchase transactions only. Typically, this fee is split between the buyer and seller at closing.

Closing Protection Letter (CPL): The CPL may indemnify lenders, owners and sellers against loss of settlement funds due to the acts or omissions of company personnel, including theft of settlement funds and failure to comply with written closing instructions. CPL costs are based on rates filed with the Missouri Department of Insurance.

In addition to title research, you can expect the title insurance 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 al 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; coordinating all these things so the transaction can close on time; 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 disbursing all funds to the proper parties, delivering documents and preparing the final closing statements.

Following your closing, the title insurance agent will follow-up on recorded documents required in the commitment and they will issue the final title insurance policies.  Typically the issuance of final title insurance policies occurs within 45 days of closing.