Thursday, January 26, 2017

Off to a new start

Diane (Cipa) Anderson retired June 30, 2016, and I have just recently taken over the "Title Insurance Talk" blog.

"(s)he leaves big shoes to fill, but they're pointed in the right direction."        Ed West

I was nervous at first, since blogging is new to me, but that nervousness has turned into determination and I will give it my best shot.

So welcome to the next chapter...

You should shop for your title insurance agent as you would any other consumer services, by comparing:

1. Costs
2. Convenience – when and where will you close?
3. Service & expertise – how long will it take to process and how long have they been in business?

How do you do a cost comparison?
Any reputable title insurance agent will provide a quote in writing.
The difference in cost may be negligible or significant but you won’t know unless you check it out!

Who should you call for quotes?
Start by asking friends and family for the name of someone they used. Surely you know someone who recently purchased or refinanced a home. Ask your real estate agent or mortgage lender for a recommendation. Check the yellow pages or do an on-line search. We have a title insurance rate calculator on our website, that fee will only be for the Loan and/or Owner's Policy.

To get comparable quotes, you’ll need a short fact sheet and give these essential facts to each company. Remember you need to compare apples to apples to make an intelligent decision.

Here’s a list of questions to ask before getting quotes. Write your answers down and make sure each title insurance agent you speak with considers this set of facts, as they will affect the actual costs in a title transaction:

Is this a purchase or refinance transaction?
If you are refinancing, when did you last mortgage the property?
What is the purchase price?
What is the mortgage amount?
Are you closing a second mortgage at the same time?
In what county is the property located?
In what specific municipality is the property located?

The following list includes typical title related charges. Use it as a guide as you speak with title insurance agents:

Title insurance premium
Title search
Closing Protection letter
Notary fees
Wire fees
Courier fees
Settlement fee
Document preparation fee
Attorney fee
Tax certification/lien letters
Recording fees
Deed transfer taxes/local
Deed transfer taxes/state

I suggest you verbally discuss the quote then ask each title insurance agent to send you a quote by fax or e-mail.

Make sure the quote is in writing.
Make sure the quote is itemized.
Make sure the quote includes all fees relevant to the title portion of the transaction.

Pennsylvania is a regulated state but there are unregulated fees that will affect your cost. Unless you drill down and get a full quote you can’t really compare.

What I find most interesting when comparing costs are the tax certifications and lien letters. Federal and state laws and regulations clearly prohibit padding the costs of tax certifications and lien letters. We are only permitted to collect reimbursement for out of pocket expenses. You’d be surprised how many closing statements I have seen with lien letters padded an extra $10, $20, or even $50. It’s a carefully hidden income stream for less than honest title insurance agents and attorneys. Be on the lookout for it.

Remember that actual costs may change if the facts of your case change. So keep that in mind and be sure to compare apples to apples when shopping.