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Unlocking The Mysteries Of Title Insurance
Why You Need Title Insurance
When you purchase your home, how can you be sure that there are no problems with the home's title and that the seller really owns the property? Problems with the title can limit your use and enjoyment of the property, as well as bring financial loss. That is what a title search and title insurance are for.
The Title Search
After your sales contract has been accepted, a title professional will search the public records to look for any problems with the home's title. This search typically involves a review of land records going back many years. More than 1/3 of all title searches reveal a title problem that title professionals fix before you go to closing. For instance, a previous owner may have had minor construction done on the property, but never fully paid the contractor. Or the previous owner may have failed to pay local or state taxes (See below for some other common title problems). Title professionals seek to resolve problems like these before you go to closing. What happens if a problem arises after you move in? Read on..)
The Owner's Title Policy
Sometimes title problems occur that could not be found in the public records or are inadvertently missed in the title search process. To help protect you in these events, it is recommended that you obtain an Owner's Policy of Title Insurance to insure you against the most unforeseen problems.
Owner's Title Insurance, called an Owner's Policy, is usually issued in the amount of the real estate purchase. It is purchased for a one-time fee at closing and lasts for as long as you or your heirs have an interest in the property. Only an Owner's Policy fully protects the buyer should a covered title problem arise with the title that was not found during the title search. Possible hidden title problems can include:
Errors or omissions in deeds
Mistakes in examining records
An Owner's Policy provides assurance that your title company will stand behind you — monetarily and with legal defense if needed — if a covered title problem arises after you buy your home. The bottom line is that your title company will be there to help pay valid claims and cover the costs of defending an attack on your title. Receiving an Owner's Policy isn't always an automatic part of the closing process, and is paid for by different people in different parts of the country. Be sure you request an Owner's Policy and ask how it is paid for where you live. No matter who pays for the Owner's Policy, the fee is a one-time fee paid at closing. The Owner's Policy protects you for as long as you or your heirs have an interest in the property.
You also have the option of purchasing a policy with expanded coverage. It's called the Homeowner's Policy and it covers more things than the Owner's Policy. Ask your local title company for an explanation of the expanded Homeowner's Policy so you can decide which policy is the best one for you.
The Loan Policy
There are two types of title insurance: Owner's title insurance, as mentioned above, and Lenders title insurance, also called a Loan Policy. Most lenders usually require a Loan Policy when they issue you a loan. The Loan Policy is usually based on the dollar amount of your loan. It only protects the lender's interests in the property should a problem with the title arise. It does not protect the buyer. The policy amount decreases each year and eventually disappears as the loan is paid off.
Prices vary from state to state. Be sure to ask your settlement or title company about pricing and whether the Loan Policy and Owner's Policy are sold separately or together
CLTA vs. ALTA title coverage,
As a safer trust deed investor you should always demand that your broker and/or title co. provide you with a "full" "extended" "ALTA lenders title policy" with "no deletions
There are generally two types of title insurance policies used. CLTA (California Land Title Association) is insuring against loss including attorney fees (up to the purchase price for as long as he owns the property) due to all matters of record, fraud and forgery, and it assures that title is being vested in the person shown on the policy.
The ALTA (American Land Title Association) policy covers the same items as the CLTA policy as well as many additional risks such as unrecorded mechanic's liens, assessments, encumbrances, encroachments, easements, water rights, mining claims, patent reservations, conflicts of boundary lines, shortages in area access to and from the land and other visible matter, as the title company actually performs a physical inspection before it issues an ALTA policy.
Some ALTA policies will list deletions. The most common deletions may exclude mechanics liens on construction loans with broken priority, I.e. any construction were started before escrow recorded. Some ALTA policies list so many deletions they begin to resemble the more limited coverage CLTA policies provide.
You can begin to see why it is so important for you as a lender to obtain the most protection available. You can also see that if your coverage is called ALTA but has deletions you may really only be getting the equivalent of CLTA coverage. Always obtain the maximum title insurance coverage available.
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