The Closing Process

Questions and Answers

What is a Title?

When you purchase a home, you are really purchasing the title to the property – which is the right to occupy and use the property. That legal right is usually documented in the form of a deed recorded at the local courthouse. A title may be contested based upon past rights and claims asserted by others. These types of claims can complicate your purchase of the property, or challenge your ownership later on, and potentially cause you to lose money.

Why do you need Title Insurance?

A home is often the largest single investment any of us ever make. Title insurance protects against loss of value from defects that may exist in the title, or arguments made by others that such defects exist. These defects or problems include fraud, forged signatures on deeds, unknown heirs or previous owners, liens and documentation errors. If you were uninsured and your right to the title is challenged, you could lose significant money defending yourself – you could lose your home.

How does Title Insurance protect you?

An owner’s policy of title insurance protects a buyer against defects in the title of the property, either clearing up title problems or paying for your losses. For a one-time premium generally paid at closing, an owner’s title insurance policy remains in effect as long as you , or your heirs, retain an interest in the property.

How does Title Insurance protect the Lender?

A lender’s policy of title insurance protects the lender that financed a piece of real estate against loss caused by defects in the owner’s title.

Why do I need Title Insurance on a Refinance?

Title insurance on a refinanced mortgage is usually offered at a reduced rate, and it assures your lender that you actually own the property. It insures that no one else has a preemptive position in front of the leader, and if someone does, it pays the lender’s losses.

Why do I need Title Insurance on a Brand New House?

Even if your home itself hasn’t had owners, the land that it stands on has. Your policy insures you as the owner of a specific piece of property. It clarifies the property rights and insures that your builder hasn’t used it as collateral on another loan, that there are no unidentified easements affecting your property and that no problems will surface to hurt you later.


How it Works

Before you understand title insurance, you need to understand what a title is. Basically, a title is a term that includes all of your legal rights to own, use and sells piece of land. The title reflects all previous ownership and transfers, including rights previously granted by other parties, such as mortgages and easements.

If there are problems with the title, the ownership of your land could be in question. Unpaid taxes, a lien (which is an unpaid claim) filed by someone who worked on the house, or any of the countless other situations could cause a major problem. And even if you don’t get the land, you might still be responsible for the mortgage! That’s why it is important to have title insurance.

1.) Know what “escrow” is, and who’s dealing with it for you

You will hear the term “escrow” quite a bit during the home buying process. So, what is escrow?

Escrow (or “settlement service”) describes the process of a third party holding money or property in trust for another until certain conditions are met. An example is any amount given to your real estate agent to accompany your offer on a house. That money goes into an escrow account until you close. Likewise, the settlement agent holds your down payment and your lender’s loan proceeds in escrow until closing.

You also might keep money in escrow with you mortgage company for as long as you’re paying for your house, so the mortgage company can pay your homeowners insurance and real estate taxes for you.

2.) Know what is meant by “closing”

Closing (or “settlement”) is the point where all the title research is completed, the mortgage loan is approved, and all the paperwork is ready to be signed an recorded. Once all of the documents have been signed, the funds disbursed anfd the deed an mortgage recorded, the transaction has “closed”. In most cases, after closing, the house is all yours.

3.) You choose your Title Insurance company

When it comes to title insurance, you have the right to choose whatever company you’d like. Although many people just rely on their attorney, mortgage lender or real estate agent to pick a title insurance company for them, ultimately the decision is yours

4.) Title Insurance is a one-time cost

You don’t pay monthly or annual premiums to keep your title insurance – you pay it just one time, typically at closing. Then you’re covered for as long as you own the home.