Title Insurance: Who Needs It, and Why?

What exactly is Title Insurance? Title insurance Policies protect lenders against financial loss and homeowners from the inability to buy or sell a home. They also protect new homebuyers from losing their home after purchase due to title defects.

Pre-approval

Most mortgage lenders these days require homebuyers to purchase a Lender’s Title Insurance Policy. A Lender’s Policy, issued in the amount of the loan, ensures the financial institution backing the mortgage doesn’t incur loss due to title problems. This type of title insurance offers no protection for the the property owner.

While purchasing an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy is entirely optional, there are many, many prudent reasons for doing so. Title problems can date back years, decades even, only to be discovered in the most recent title search. An Owner’s Title Insurance Policy is well worth the cost, and can save you from suffering monetary loss and heartache during the time you own the property and when you go to sell. Why risk your home and financial investment by not having one?

What Happens When a Title Has Defects?

In short, title defects are problems surrounding property ownership. Defects include issues like recording errors on deeds, unreleased liens, unknown or undisclosed heirs, and other encumbrances preventing a clear (or “marketable”) title. When a title is determined to be unmarketable, the property typically cannot be bought, sold or conveyed. Further, the lender will not approve the home loan until a clear title is presented.

Consider the following scenarios:

Example One

You’ve accepted an offer on your home, and are nearly ready to pass the keys on to the next owner. A title search, however, reveals that the previous owner of the property (from whom you purchased) failed to have an ex-spouse sign off on the sale of the home. This ex-spouse, by all legal standards, can still lay claim to the home you are now trying to sell – the sale of which will not take place until this person has signed and relinquished his/her claim to the property. Having title insurance will save you in this situation, particularly from spending considerable time in court, money in legal fees and delayed closing on the sale of your home.

Example Two

The house you are ready to purchase has changed hands numerous times. The more times a deed changes ownership, the greater the chance of recording errors, omissions and other title defects. You decide to purchase an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy. Shortly after closing, it is brought to your attention that a forgery occurred on a past deed of trust. Since you purchased Owner’s Policy, your costs to remove the defect and establish clear title are covered.

Owner’s Title Insurance Tidbits

  • Each policy incurs a one-time premium, payment for which is rendered at closing.
  • Policies are issued on an individual basis and written for the sale price of the property.
  • Owner’s policies cannot be transferred. A new policy must be purchased when the property sells or conveys to a new owner.
  • An Owner’s Policy covers financial loss along with attorney and other litigation fees for defending title on a property.

At Linear Title & Escrow, we work with some of the top Title Insurance underwriters in the industry. For more on title defects or the importance of having an Owner’s Title Insurance Policy, contact our friendly team today!

 

 

What Factors Prevent Clear Title?

magnifying-glass-145942_1280The last thing anyone wants in real estate is to be unable to buy or sell a home because of title problems. Defects, or “clouds,” on title at the very least can stall the real estate transaction, taking anywhere from days to months to resolve. Title companies and their agents work diligently to conduct a title search for each real estate transaction. Unmarketable titles not only prevent proper title transfers – they can be costly to resolve and ultimately result in the inability to sell a property.

Barriers to Settlement: Title Defects

A myriad of factors can prevent clear title and interfere with the closing process. Here are the most common:

  • Unknown or missing heirs
  • False impersonation
  • Liens
  • Prior owner judgments
  • Clerical errors in public records
  • Forgery
  • Fraudulent document execution
  • Inaccurate representation of marital status
  • Improper probation of wills
  • Boundary, survey or easement inaccuracies
  • Unreleased deed of trust

How Are Clouds on Title Resolved?

Resolving defects on title varies, depending on the issue preventing clear title and the circumstances surrounding it. The best way to protect against title problems is to work with a highly experienced title agent, ensure a thorough title search is conducted and purchase Owner’s Title Insurance. In some cases, the courts may need to get involved to “clear” title and render it marketable. In others, liens or judgments must be satisfied, or necessary paperwork completed to remove title defects before closing.

A Word About Title Insurance

Title insurance protects the lender and owner against title defects identified after the transaction closes. Most lender’s require a Lender’s Policy, and buyers are strongly encouraged to purchase an Owner’s policy to insure against significant financial loss. In some cases, the cost of an Owner’s policy may be included in seller concessions. Even if title appears to be “clear,” purchasing title insurance is highly recommended. Visit our title insurance page for additional information.

At Linear Title & Escrow, we are unwavering in our commitment to conduct a thorough title search for each real estate transaction. For help with your title concerns and questions, contact our friendly team today!