Thursday, February 28, 2008

We had a near miss in title today .....

and if it's happening here, it's got to be happening everywhere.

THE PROBLEM The Sheriff's office is so overwhelmed with foreclosure volume that they can't provide data to the Prothonotary as quickly as usual and so YOU CANNOT RELY UPON A CURRENT SEARCH OF THE PROTHONOTARY'S office.

I have a title commitment to issue on a property going to Sheriff's sale on Monday. My prudent purchaser chose to vet the title for an owner policy. The commitment is convertible into a policy should he be the successful bidder. Soooooo, I'm examining title and I see no mention of the Sheriff's sale in the abstract report....and I'm thinking what the heck?

The foreclosure record as reported stops with notice of service. I called my abstractor and sent her back to the Prothonotary to find out why things are so out of date and the Prothonotary gives a glare and says talk to the Sheriff's office, so she flies down to their office and looks at the file and finds all this additional data including the notice of the Sheriff's sale. EVERYBODY is complaining because you can't reply upon normal search methods.

We immediately change procedure and now if there is a foreclosure action started, she's going to the Sheriff's office for an up to date record.

I hear you saying, well what's the problem? Why the alert?

Imagine, if you will that I did not know a sale was scheduled for Monday and I had a transaction in process due to close on Tuesday. Let's say the seller is unscrupulous and the mortgage lender is sloppy. We get a payoff letter and proceed to close on Tuesday WITHOUT knowing that the property had been sold on Monday. That, my friends is a total failure of title.

I ask you. What are the remote title companies who are closing transactions in this county doing? If they are relying upon the Prothonotary data available on-line, or inexperienced examiners, they'd be in for a surprise and so would others involved in their transactions.

How many people are working on short sales expecting postponements of sheriff sales and have a disconnect between loss mitigation and the foreclosing attorney?

Yes, the homeowner has title insurance BUT........a total failure of title usually means that you lose the house and that's not the happy ending we strive for.

Select your title professionals carefully. Choose expertise with a learned presence and feet on the ground in the actual county in which the property resides. Safety is sometimes in the nuances of title. Can't be too careful when swimming in a flood of foreclosures.


We're just sitting here in the office looking at the great interest rates in the title files we're closing and thinking WOW!

Here in our part of Pennsylvania there's been about a 10% correction in market value and buyers should be having a field day. We have a relatively safe real estate marketplace in our neck of the woods - western PA. Except for the shutdown of the mills in the 70s we've not had any major upheavals so values tend to be pretty stable.

Did you know you can buy wonderful Victorians in some parts of our area for less than $50,000? Check out Cambria County and Lawrence County.

You can't believe how many people from out of our area buy great rental properties in Johnstown for less than $25,000.

This is a great place to raise children, too. If you're thinking of relocating to someplace that's just a bit more friendly in more ways than one, western Pennsylvania is the place.

A $40,000 annual income goes a long way here. The cost of living just can't be compared with other parts of the country.

See that picture at the top of the screen? As I write this, I'm turning and looking at our office Kitty sleeping in the sunshine next to the printer and I look through the tree to the snowy hills beyond.

Pittsburgh is the "little, big city" and all the areas surrounding it offer wonderful neighborhoods and rolling countrysides. It's highly livable and I'm proud to call it home. If you're looking for a new place to call home, give it a look see. ;)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

query: lawyers that collect money for title insurance and don't write a policy

They ought to be tarred and feathered, right? Well, someone should take responsibility for such a bad move. Anyway, the good news is that YOU, as the consumer, can prove that title insurance was purchased by presenting a copy of your HUD-1 Settlement Statement. This is your official receipt.

I do hope that you also received a copy of your title insurance commitment before you closed, but I'll bet that you did not. If you have the title insurance commitment, notice the name of the title company on the jacket. Contact them and present the commitment and the HUD-1.

If you do not have a commitment but you DO have the HUD-1, look to see if the title company is named on the HUD and contact them with the HUD as proof of payment.

If you are striking out left and right here, try contacting your state department of insurance or attorney general's office for assistance.

This query reminds us that there are TWO very important steps a wise consumer of title insurance should follow.

First, always get a copy of your title insurance commitment to review BEFORE you close. If the attorney or title agent gives you any grief over this request, fire them and get back any money you have already paid. It's their job to give you this commitment. If they are not willing to produce the commitment, there's a good chance they won't get around to writing the actual title insurance. Got it?

OK, next, look very carefully at the HUD-1 to make certain you are paying for title insurance and not just a search. Also, confirm that there is OWNER coverage and not just LENDER coverage. There are ignorant attorneys and title agents who think they are doing you a favor by only issuing the lender coverage. I know it sounds idiotic but they think you want to save two bucks and go unprotected but they are afraid to ask you point blank so they just make the decision for you.

Be your own best friend and pay attention.

And good luck to you, my friend. I hope they catch that dirty rotten crook.

query via e-mail: buying a home in foreclosure

Beverly said:

I'm getting ready to pay cash for a home in foreclosure, and I have a question about getting a Clear Title policy. The home has been empty for over a year and I'm sure back taxes plus Home Owner Assoc. dues haven't been paid in a while.
I was told by Real Estate Agent that is showing home for the Mortgage company, that the Mortgage company would be responsible for all back HOA fees, and back taxes.
I have never bought a foreclosure before and have doubts about getting a clear Title policy that doesn't have any liens, or back Home owner Assoc. fees owed. What can I do to make sure this is done right?
I would appreciate any information you could send me.

To which I replied:

Hi, Beverly:

Shop around for a good title insurance agent. The title insurance agent should be checking the foreclosure to make certain it was done correctly and looking for any items that might have survived the foreclosure. Taxes and HOA fees and municipal liens would survive and would need to be paid in full by the mortgage company. Ask your title insurance agent for a copy of the title commitment and read it. If there is something you don't understand, don't be afraid to ask questions. Your real estate agent is correct that the mortgage company will pay for those items so look for them on the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. If you are uncomfortable, hire a good real estate attorney to review everything for you. Buy owner title insurance.

One more thing..... the weak spot in some of these transactions is the payment of final bills for water/sewer/garbage. If those items aren't included in the HOA fees, check the status.

Good luck!!

I absolutely agree with this statement by a notary signing agent.

She said:

I actually think that anyone buying a piece of real estate and letting a 'signing agent' touch their paperwork is totally and thoroughly crazy, although I do MANY purchase closings a month.

Be a careful and SANE shopper. Hire a professional title agent or attorney who will perform the closing and NOT farm it out to an unlicensed notary signing agent.

We only use on staff fully trained professionals here in our office.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

query: what happens when a loan goes to quality control

Ahhh, great question. I'm going give you my answer BUT I have to tell you that since I'm no longer in mortgage lending, my exposure to quality control might not be current. If we have any mortgage lending readers out there who would like to add their comments, we would sure appreciate it.

Let's first talk about the selection of a file for quality control. Most mortgage files that are subject to a quality control review are selected at random. A good quality [QC] control manager will attempt to pull a random 10% selection from everybody. This means that QC will try for an overall 10% selection AND also try to mix into that selection a sampling of roughly 10% of the production from each appraiser, each mortgage broker, each mortgage loan originator, etc. By constantly monitoring 10% of what everybody is doing, QC is likely to find repetitive errors or fraud.

The purpose of QC is to aid management by pointing out training deficiencies, procedural and compliance issues, and suspicion of fraud.

The QC staff should be more than auditing clerks. Hopefully management will spend the money to hire highly skilled compliance and underwriting experts. The auditor has to know all the rules and how to interpret what they find.

In addition to random selection, QC will also pull first payment defaults, first year defaults, and any other files that have been red flagged by someone else in production as suspicious.

Once a file has been pulled in for a QC audit, they will do a thorough review and then order reverification of some or all data. This may mean that they will take the 4506 that you signed at closing and send in to the IRS for a copy of your tax return. They may also send an appraiser out to take pictures of the property and perform a drive-by appraisal. They may run another credit report and/or send reverification forms out to your landlord, bank, and employers. They may also send your mortgage application back to you and ask you if anyone has altered the form after you signed it.

One of the most common problems discovered by QC that falls into the category of borrower fraud is occupancy. If you told the mortgage lender that you intend to occupy the property and never actually moved in and your file is selected for QC, expect to get caught.

After the QC audit is complete, findings will be reported to management who then decides on the appropriate follow-up actions.

A final note..... to avoid a conflict of interest, the QC should report directly to top management rather than work inside the regular mortgage department. If a mortgage department has been corrupted by systemic fraud, QC has to be able to communicate this type of matter independently to the level where ultimate responsibility lies.

query: what does it mean request mortgage payoff letters

A mortgage is a lien against the real estate. Title agents and those who will process the paying off of a mortgage must make certain that they are collecting enough money to cover all outstanding fees and interest PLUS they must get specific instructions from the mortgage lender setting out HOW and WHERE to send the money. All of this information is contained in the mortgage payoff letter.

First, I would HOPE that the mortgage payoff letter is being requested by the title insurer and not the real estate agent or the borrower. The title insurer should control the mortgage payoff entirely, from the point of obtaining the mortgage payoff letter to the delivery of the funds. A borrower or some other interested party may be motivated to commit fraud by either altering the letter or diverting the funds.

It's important to note that whoever is ordering the mortgage payoff letter will need the authorization of the borrower and this authorization must typically be in writing. So, if you are selling property or refinancing property and someone is asking you to sign an authorization so they can request your mortgage payoff letter, please cooperate with them, otherwise your transaction may be delayed.

Be aware that some mortgage payoff letters take time. While we are lucky and some will arrive the same day as requested, there are others that may take a few days. Once again, cooperating with your title professional will move the file along.

One more thing, as a consumer, I'd like you to take the time to review your mortgage payoff letter. Ask for a copy and make certain that you understand it before you close. Try to get the copy in advance so you have time to think and time to contact your mortgage company with any questions.

building a new home?

Read this. In fact, this article should be mandatory reading for every borrower and mortgage lender engaged in new construction.

You cannot believe how much trouble we in the title insurance business have getting borrowers and mortgage lenders to understand the incredible risks associated with mechanics liens.

You cannot and should not be involved in a new construction project of any kind without watching the builder like a hawk.

First of all, do NOT have materials delivered or ground broken before a Stipulation Against Liens is filed at the Prothonotary's office.

Walk the site and ask subconstractors if they are being paid. I know that sounds intrusive but some builders will take the money they receive for your house and use it to pay for work or materials being used for someone else's house. Say it ain't so! Believe it, it happens.

You should be watching every nickel and dime. New construction is very exciting but it is potentially high risk if the builder is the least bit vulnerable.

Monday, February 25, 2008

concerned about title insurance claims or off-shoring of title examinations?

Read this post written by Ed Rybczynski on Active Rain. He articulates the title claim process very succinctly and WHY you want to avoid it.

You NEED title insurance because you NEED a thorough examination by a local and human title expert combined with a title policy to cover human error or items that could not be found in a prudent search.

You should NOT buy a title policy backed by examination conducted through an automated system or by remote clerks who may even be in another country.

Real estate is localized and understanding the nuances of a county or state or municipality are part and parcel of doing a good job. Most of what you pay in your title premium is for the expertise of the examination which is designed to avoid title claims.

Be a careful consumer and select your title insurer wisely.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

query: should I receive a title policy via mail

Yes, the owner title insurance policies are typically mailed out after closing. Most often, the title agent will mail it to you with the original deed when the deed comes back from the courthouse.

If you don't receive your title insurance policy within 60 days after closing, call your title agent for a status.

query: what does FHA insurance cover

The mortgage insurance premiums paid to HUD in FHA mortgage transactions covers losses experienced by mortgage lenders in foreclosure.

The FHA program was the first program to offer liberal income qualifications and low downpayments. In ye ole times - LOL - pre-subprime - lenders were afraid to take risk, so HUD built the mortgage insurance into the program to incent mortgage lenders to participate.

I really like the good old fashioned program that it is. Many, many people are responsibly able to purchase homes. It's a good marriage of responsible government, responsible mortgage underwriting, and responsible homebuying. Everybody is reasonably safe.

query: how do I take my deceased husband off the title to my house

If the property is in both of your names, it should not be necessary to remove his name. Simply keep a death certificate available and give it to the attorney or title agent handling any refinance or sale of your home. Your responsibility is to provide proof of death. The next legal document being recorded in the chain will recite the death sort of like this:

John Smith died on July 1, 2006 thereby vesting full title in his surviving spouse by operation of law.

If the property was in your husband's name alone, you should seek the advice of an attorney.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

query by e-mail: title company stole the money and my debts aren't paid!

Hello Diane, I was so glad to find your blog!!!! Oh my goodness I am having some problems.I could use some advise.I thank you in advance for taking the time for all us real estate idiots.Ok here it is my Title company dissolved and never paid my closing settlements ever from the closing settlement(credit cards,medical bills and insurances)One was an insurance to cover my mortgage in case of injury or illness etc.It is now almost 2 yrs later and my credit is destroyed form this.The title companies owners are now in big trouble for embezzling closing settlements owed to third parties as I have described above.The medical bills i mentioned were negotiated prices that were supposed to be paid 2 years ago so now they are back to the old prices and everything is in collections.Mortgage company knew about this because when I went to refinance they denied me because the settlements had not been paid .Mean while my credit rating is in the toilet and in june when I tried to activate my insurance because I was attacked and was injured I was then informed by my mortgage company that the insurance included in the settlement payment was also never paid.Now I contacted the Title insurance company and they are not responding so well we both agree settlement was never paid but the long lasting effects of this will last along time if they do not cover the insurance issue.Hope I am not to confusing.Please any advice would help I am looking for an attorney but until then tick tock my credit rating drops to 396 AHHHHHHHHHHHH I don't even have any credit cards HELP Please thanks

To which I responded:

I can't give legal advice, T, so don't take this as that kind of advice. OK?
I suggest doing all communications with the big title company via certified mail.
You should also contact your state Attorney General. They normally have a consumer department to assist resolving problems with a business.
If you haven't already done so, contact the state insurance department and perhaps the state mortgage banking department.
The HUD-1 form you have should list the debts you paid. Contact the credit bureau and submit this information and request that they put a statement on your record.
You may also want to contact your local legal services office for assistance if you can't afford to hire an attorney. Good luck!

query: can I get a copy of my HUD-1 from HUD

Sorry, no. HUD designed the form but they won't have a copy of it to give to you. If you have lost your HUD-1, contact either your real estate agent, your mortgage lender or your title agent. All should have a copy and be willing to share.

Monday, February 18, 2008

query: if I have title insurance is it okay to buy a home with a quit claim deed

Attorneys do argue whether or not a quit claim deed IS a deed of conveyance at all. The language of a quit claim deed generally would not contain the words "grant" or "convey" which are the operative words in the transfer of real estate. A quit claim deed is more about quitting or releasing rights to another party and is more appropriately used when the party receiving the rights already has ownership and is simply acquiring missing pieces or tying up loose ends.

A warranty deed on the other hand, whether general or special, clearly conveys ownership and includes some promise of defense of title by the seller. This warranty given by the seller shouldn't be pooh poohed as it may cover some things your title insurance does not cover. So, buying real estate with title insurance but without a warranty deed from the seller is a more risky proposition.

Now, you have the issue of whether or not you can even GET title insurance when the seller is giving you a quit claim deed. Most title insurers will flinch at the prospect and may refuse to insure.

Back to your query, I would have to say that IF you can get title insurance over a quit claim deed, only YOU can decide if it is OKAY.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Gina Gardner wrote this nice short piece explaining Project Lifeline.

If you are in trouble, facing foreclosure, and your mortgage is with one of these lenders:

Countrywide Financial, Wells Fargo, Washington Mutual, Bank of America, Citibank, and JP Morgan Chase

Read this article.

query by e-mail: title insurance and sheriff's sale

I received this e-mail this morning and decided to post it because so many readers are thinking about buying property in foreclosure.


First, thank you for airing your opinions about title insurance on your weblog "Title Insurance Talk". I've been perusing your articles as part of an effort to give myself a "crash course" in how title insurance works and what I should do in my situation.

If you are unable or uninterested in returning an email, I'll hold no ill-will and leave you with a final "Thanks for the info!" However, if you're kind enough to provide me a couple pearls of wisdom from your experience, I'd greatly appreciate it.

My wife and I are going to a local Sheriff's sale tomorrow to purchase a house that has been foreclosed. (Yes, I might buy my wife a house for Valentine's Day - top that!) I've been emailing back and forth with our newly-acquired real estate attorney, who occasionally urges us to consider getting our title insurance from some company other than the bank's preference. He tells me that he's ok with going with their title company so long as they pay for my owner's policy. But it sounds like banks don't like just "giving away" an owner's policy (go figure). Also, it sounds like banks often state in purchase contracts that they'll "waive fees" associated with title if I choose their preferred company. This attorney also provides title insurance as a service, so he's obviously slightly biased towards going with his own company.

So in essence, it comes down to:
1. Go with bank's title insurance company. (Ask for owner's policy to be included without additional fee.) Upside: easy, maybe cheap. Downside: not sure yet ...
2. Go with attorney's title company. Upside: not sure yet ... Downside: Pay extra bank-based title fees

I know you're in PA, and I'm in Cincinnati, OH, so who knows whether your experience matches with whatever funky state or local laws are in force down here ... but I'd appreciate your read on the situation all the same. Why is it better to go with a title company other than the bank's?

Thanks again Diane!

To which I responded:

Thank you for your kind comments. ;) Setting aside who you purchase your title insurance from for a moment. I am very concerned about your bidding at a sheriff's sale without a title insurance commitment already in hand. Unless your attorney is an experienced title insurance examiner, he may not have been able to find all of those outstanding issues that might impact the insurability of the property being sold. So buyer beware, ok?

As for shopping for a title insurer, the best route is to make some calls yourself. It's okay to talk with your bank's company and your attorney's company, but call some more.

Get full written quotes so you can compare pricing. Then ask these few questions:

1. Who will perform the actual abstract?
2. How many years will they search?
3. Will you get a copy of the title commitment for review prior to closing?

You want an experienced local human abstractor, one who works in THAT county and is thoroughly familiar with local protocol and idiosyncracies.

You want a full search. In PA a full search is 60 years. In Ohio, it might be 50 years.

Yes, you want a copy of the title commitment before you complete your purchase. You and your attorney need to review it to know what you are buying.

Finally, if you can, get a survey. It's the only way to really know where the boundaries sit.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

mineral rights

I recommend reading this article. If you are truly concerned about mineral rights to a property, you'll need to order a special mineral rights search and it wouldn't be a bad idea to have an experienced mineral rights attorney give you some advice.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hope Now program info

HOPE NOW has supported a toll-free hotline, 1-888-995-HOPE, which is available 24-hours a day to provide mortgage counseling in multiple languages.

query: how to do title insurance with a bank

It's no different than any other title insurance purchase. Shop around. You will either choose your title insurance agent or your bank will pick one for you. Some banks own title agencies and remember that they cannot require that you use their affiliated title agency.

query: how to sign a cashiers check over to a title company

If you've decided to have the cashiers check made payable to yourself, you'll need to endorse it over to the title company. You do this by signing/endorsing the back and under your signature write "pay to the order of" then print the name of the title company.

Let's add another scenario. Let's say you get a cashiers check and it is payable to the title company and the transaction does not close. All you need to do is take the cashiers check back to your bank and they will void it. They'll do a void for the remitter. That's you. ;)

query: how to get a copy of my HUD-1

First, you should always receive a fully executed copy of your HUD-1 at the closing. If you lose it, your mortgage lender or title agent should be able to provide another copy.

If you are a customer of my office, we are able to pull up a scanned copy of the signed HUD and fax or e-mail it on demand. The only requirement is that we are able to identify you as a party to the transaction. We do this for privacy reasons.

Monday, February 11, 2008

query: what does a settlement statement look like

Here's a HUD-1 settlement statement. Expect it to change when the new RESPA reform is finalized.

[update:  We changed our website and that link just takes you to our new home page.  Here's a new post with a sample HUD.]

Saturday, February 09, 2008

open response to Scott J. Wilson of the LA Times

Who wrote a very nice article, Title Insurance Buying Tips. Please take a moment to read it.

There is no comment option on the web site and so I'd like to respond here.

I like the article. I believe Mr. Wilson is helping consumers understand the value of shopping. I do hope consumers would not rely on Title Wizard for more than just an opening peek at rates. Calling several title agencies or escrow agencies will allow the consumer to check more than just the title premium. You need to ask about other fees related to the closing. Get a full quote and get it in writing.

I was shocked - absolutely shocked by the advice offered by the Consumer Federation of America.

The risk of a title-related problem is so low that J. Robert Hunter, insurance director for the Consumer Federation of America, said people should think about not buying an owner's policy.

Mr. Hunter doesn't apparently understand the possibilities here. Ok, so the risk of a total failure of title of even a devastating lien are low, but do you want to be a homeowner faced with that situation and NO title insurance coverage? Come on, folks, you buy fire insurance very year. How many houses have you owned that burned down? Even with the low risk of total devastation by fire, you fully understand that buying the insurance is a wise investment. WHY? Because you don't want to face a total loss and wonder why you didn't pay a few hundred dollars for coverage. An owner policy is a one time premium and it is money well spent.

Finally, I 'd like to add that I am very concerned - VERY concerned about consumers buying property that has been foreclosed upon and allowing the seller to select the title insurer.

My office finds numerous, sometimes devastating, errors in foreclosure transactions. A seller of REO property has a motive to move the closing through without a hitch. They do NOT want professional eyes looking at their work product. Humans make mistakes, especially when they are handling large volume. There are so MANY foreclosures moving through the system that BUYERS SHOULD BEWARE and BUY YOUR OWN TITLE INSURANCE.

Hire your own professional to review the title and the work of the foreclosing attorney to make certain you are not buying problems.

I have two transactions we received just this month that are on hold while the foreclosing attorney tries to fix their mistakes.

One might go through. It's just an IRS lien that they mishandled. They SHOULD be able to get the IRS to agree to service and waive their redemption period. We are hopeful.

The other transaction is a sale of roughly $290,000. We found over $300,000 in judgments and an IRS lien that were wholly missed by the foreclosing attorney. None of these liens were divested. Our homebuyer is livid. He was so happy and so excited about buying this property and at first he was angry with us because we were the bearers of bad news. It took him a few minutes to realize how very close he came to buying a lawsuit nightmare.

From the perspective of this consumer, the statement from the seller that they were selling the property "free and clear of all liens" made him feel safe. Well, they THOUGHT the property was free and clear although how anybody could have missed these liens is a mystery to me. I think they had a less than thorough search performed and now they are going to pay big for it.

This is such a shame.

Anyway, back to Mr. Wilson. Thank you for writing a helpful article. Maybe you can do a follow-up and look at the hazards of buying foreclosed property and WHY a consumer would be well served to have an experienced professional vet title before closing.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

query: purpose of marked up title commitment

The title commitment lays out the blueprint for the title policies. Marking it up indicates to the preparer of the policies that you have completed conditional items and how they should adjust the exceptions for the policies.

For instance, Schedule B1 might say that you will subordinate a mortgage. By marking that item as "complied with" you are telling the file and anyone that needs to know, that you took care of it so they don't have to.

On Schedule B2, let's say you have an exception for restrictive covenants and the mortgage lender wants an endorsement covering any violations of covenants. You mark - or handwrite a note - on the Schedule B2 indicating which endorsement will be issued to cover that item in the loan policy.

So, basically, it's a record that you did your job and an instruction sheet for whoever will produce the policy.

outsourcing title - it doesn't end there

Read this. First American spreads the disease into other sectors of the real estate industry. Blurb:

"By offering MortgageBPO in conjunction with the MortgageServ platform, Graystone's clients now have expanded choices to tap into the benefits of First American's global offshore capabilities," said Scott Brinkley, executive vice president of First American's Global Offshore Services group. "Graystone provides a much-needed suite of specialty servicing solutions and has forged strong relationships with servicers throughout the nation. First American is pleased to extend our services to this expanded market."

MortgageBPO is part of First American's overall global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) service offerings and aggregates the international expertise developed across core First American companies to offer flexible and comprehensive outsourcing solutions to originators, servicers, default managers, insurers and investors.

query: my name on deed not on note or mortgage, now house is in foreclosure

If the mortgage lender failed to get the approval of a vested owner before placing the mortgage lien against the property, they may have difficulty with the foreclosure. In other words, they may not have a valid lien against the property.

You should see an attorney.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Which kind of title insurance agency would YOU like to work with?

LUXURY [multi-function law firm]
  • about status
  • high/over priced
  • quality varies
  • attention to detail
  • prestigious firm or location or connection
BOUTIQUE [single function title and closing specialists]
  • about value and personal expression
  • priced fairly
  • high quality
  • attention to detail
  • local & personal
COMMODITY [national agency or part of vendor management company]
  • about technology
  • inexpensive B2B/overpriced for consumer
  • low quality mass production
  • little attention to detail
  • remote & highly automated
Beware this business model. They LOOK like a boutique because they are often small offices and local but they perform no work. Their product is contracted with COMMODITY dealers.

I guess I should wind up this post by saying that THE CLOSING SPECIALISTS
® are boutique providers - the real deal. We do the work and our pricing is the most affordable way to buy title insurance and settlement services in Pennsylvania.

If you are in the market buying or refinancing a home, check out our web site at

good news - We have a mortgage fraud task force here in Western Pennsylvania!

Read this article.

The hot line is 412-894-7550.

Help us clean up the industry. If you are a victim or you have information concerning mortgage fraud, do your part and report it.

The sooner we get back guys out of the business the sooner we can get back to plain old fashioned helping people buy and finance homes.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

query: what happens if my title deed is lost

The deed should have been recorded at the count courthouse, so don't worry. You don't need to have the original so long as it was properly recorded. Contact the Recorder of Deeds and ask them to help you find it. If for some reason you cannot find it on record, then contact your attorney for assistance.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

query: how to get a copy of title policy if never received title company closed

OK, this doesn't surprise me too much. Title companies who fail to send title policies to their customers fry my brains.

Take a look at the HUD-1 Settlement Statement. You should have received this form at the closing. Look at the back page in the 1100 section. You should see the name of a title insurance company somewhere there and hopefully it isn't just the name of the agency. Google the title company and explain your predicament. If you can't find a name or get no satisfaction, contact your state insurance regulator for assistance.

Consumers should beware. If you aren 't getting a copy of the title commitment before you close, there's a good chance you are dealing with a sloppy title agent. The problem with sloppy title agents is that they may never actually issue you a title policy and they just MIGHT go out of business before you figure that one out.

Good luck!