It’s a mistake to yawn about title insurance


Fire in Bangkok last July (Flickr photo by ToGa Wanderer)

Do you have theft insurance? Fire insurance? Liability insurance?

Surely you do. If not, don’t tarry.

Those who are well insured have in all likelihood never had to file a claim for a fire lose; certainly few readers have.  (Actually, I had a weekend home destroyed in the 80s and was fortunate to have an excellent insurance company pay for its replacement cost, though not a 17-year collection of my photos.)

At a closing, few may wonder why they need title insurance. One reason is that lenders won’t hand over the money unless the title of the property is insured. Do they know something you don’t? (“Title” defines who owns the real estate.)

They well realize that somewhere down the road can come an individual whose obscured ownership of your home or unpaid bills can cloud the title and even deprive the lender of its collateral–the place you live.

The wise homeowner is equally concerned as a mortgage lender and obtains title insurance for himself or herself in addition to the lender.

Homebuyers tend to be only vaguely familiar with title insurance, Jeremy Yohe, director of communication for the American Land Title Association, a trade group for title companies in Washington, D.C., told Mary Umberger in blog post that I recently came across.

Not incidentally, buyers familiar with title insurance appreciate that it represents a sizable commission for its provider, the insurance company’s agent. Generally, that’s the transaction’s closing agent.

The title agent will examine the history of the property in public records, perhaps going back 30-40 years.  The agent agent also may search birth and death records to see whether any unknown heirs’ rights to the property must be considered.

Any number of issues can cloud a title–a misspelled name (Smith for Smythe, for example), a tax or mechanic’s lien, a flawed will.

Would you want a misplaced letter or forgotten monetary claim to force you into court or, worse, onto the street?  I thought not.

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201
Web site

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