Buying a home is fraught with all kinds of peril, from home inspections that go terribly awry to negotiations that seem to go on forever and hinge on every little detail. But once you’re through all of that, you’re basically in the clear, right? For some buyers and sellers, maybe not, but title insurance can smooth out the rest of the bumps.
There are two types of title insurance: the kind designed for lenders and the kind designed for owners. If you’re buying a home with a mortgage, you’ll automatically have to pay for lender’s title insurance. It protects the bank if things go really haywire. Owner’s title insurance is often optional, but it’ll protect you as a buyer or seller should a title problem appear.
Title insurance starts with a title search, which is performed by an expert in examining titles and other real estate related documents. They comb through the historical records, looking at every transaction for clues that there might be a risk that someone could claim ownership of your current or future property. Usually titles are clean, meaning there’s no significant risk that you’ll be going to court to buy or sell the property, but once in a while there’s a title cloud.
Title clouds can include things like mechanics liens, improperly executed wills and estranged spouses who haven’t signed off on a sale at some point. The point of a title search, basically, is to uncover anyone who might be able to sue for ownership.
Owner’s title insurance helps in a couple of ways. First, the thorough title search required by the underwriters ensures you absolutely can legally buy and sell the property without any hitches. That’s really important in securing your financial future. Second, the insurance itself helps make the title right if a cloud is discovered later by a different title search.
A few examples of how title insurance can fix a clouded title include:
As with anything in the real estate market, you should consult with your real estate agent, mortgage lender and closing company or attorney before you refuse title insurance, but it can be your decision to reject it in many cases. For a small one-time fee, though, knowing that you’ll be covered should something unexpected crop up during your ownership is a great relief. Create a HomeKeepr account today to find all the home pros you could possibly need to help navigate difficult homeownership obstacles like title insurance with confidence!