Ask Questions When Using Title Insurance Agencies

Q.: Where I live in Ohio, real estate transactions usually seem to close at title insurance agencies. Why is that?

A.: The answer is mostly a matter of economics. It costs banks big money to maintain closing staff and to commit space just for closings (space that might be used for other purposes). Years ago, title insurance companies and their agents, who were doing the courthouse work anyway, offered to take on the closing responsibilities as well, and that tradition continues today. Generally, it works well enough. Also, there are those lenders who don’t have a local presence, but who do their business either online or through brokers; the title agency becomes their local connection with their customers.

Q.: Are all title agencies about the same?

A.: Yes and no. All title agencies write title insurance for large national or regional title insurance companies. Consumers should use title companies with good reputations and experience. Often the lending institution can be helpful in identifying a company. The insurance policies issued by all Ohio agencies are based upon forms approved for Ohio.

Q.: What services do title agencies provide?

A.: Title agents thoroughly examine each title to determine if there are any flaws in the title or reasons for concern regarding the transfer of the title. The title agent also reviews the closing documents to insure they are executed properly and makes sure that recordable documents are properly filed. Title agents also are responsible for disbursing funds in a timely fashion, for example, to pay off mortgages and other liens that affect the customer’s title. Title insurance also may provide a way to close a transaction when there are certain title deficiencies that the title insurer is willing to cover.

Q.: How do I insure that I have a “good” title agency?

A.: You gaysex
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can ask questions. It is becoming increasingly common for banks, realtors or lawyers to have an ownership interest in a title agency. You should be made aware of any such ownership arrangement. You also should ask about the agency’s experience or length of operation, and also about the qualifications of its personnel. Ask if any claims have been made against the titles that this agency has previously insured. And finally, find out whether the entire closing process is being insured on your behalf by the title insurance company, or if only the title is being insured. Without that broader coverage, which is provided by an “insured closing letter,” consumers risk not being fully protected.

Q.: Must I use a title agency?

A.: No. It makes good sense to be sure you are getting a clear title to the property you are buying, and title agencies can often provide an efficient mechanism for doing this. Your attorney may also be able to provide you with these services, as might others involved in the purchase process. The important thing to remember is to have the title researched and insured so you know of any flaws and can correct them to transfer a clean title. Your lender may, however, require you to use a title agency to close the loan transaction.

The information contained herein is general and should not be applied to specific legal problems without first consulting with one of our attorneys.

 
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