Saturday, August 31, 2013

title claim tip....

If you are selling your property and your buyer's title insurance agent says there is a pre-existing lien that you need to pay and they want you to just pay for it then file a title insurance claim later, DON'T DO IT. Sometimes the buyer's title insurance agent is wrong.

The first job of a title insurance company when faced with a possible lien is to determine if the lien is valid.  If the lien is valid and it's covered by your title insurance, then they will pay it for you.  If, however, the title insurance company determines that the lien is not valid, they will explain this to the buyer's title insurance agent and help you to proceed with your transaction and close.

If you simply agree to pay for the lien and expect to recover from your title insurance and it is determined that the lien was not valid, you won't recover your funds.

We most often see this in PA with municipal services.  There is a 3 year window for filing municipal liens for things like water and sewage service.  If the municipal authority fails to file a lien in that 3 year window, they can't attach the unpaid balance to the property.  Just because they ask for the money on a lien letter doesn't mean that it must be paid.  A simple discussion with their solicitor usually resolves the matter.

We have a pending claim in our office concerning PA inheritance taxes.  In this case an attorney/title insurance agent who was representing both buyer and seller in a transaction found what he thought was a valid lien, paid it from the seller proceeds and then told the seller [our insured] after closing to recover the funds under their policy.  The claim isn't formally resolved but from the moment it hit our office and we sent it to the claims department, at every level each person who reviews it, says it isn't a valid lien and they don't understand why the attorney paid it.  He could have held the funds in escrow while his sellers filed a claim.

So, don't let the money out of the door before talking with your title insurer.

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