In Why Shop for Title Insurance, we explained how consumers can protect themselves from inappropriate charges simply by comparing charges from various providers. Now we’d like to provide you information on how to shop for title insurance.
First, check the rates and fees
We’ve developed a Title Insurance Shopping Guide for use in Pennsylvania. This will allow you to compare quotes side-by-side. A detailed comparison will quickly highlight any glaring discrepancies such as incorrect application of the rates or inappropriate or “junk” fees.
Once you have compared the quotes from several title insurance providers, your next step is to identify the best title insurance agent for your transaction.
Interviewing a Title Agent
What’s important when selecting a title insurance provider? After performing literally thousands of settlements, we think we know what works. Here’s a quick list of important areas to consider to ensure a smooth settlement without surprises or post-closing issues.
Independence - An independent agent doesn’t risk being mired in conflicts of interest. We agree with The Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on Affiliated Business Arrangements (where a lender, real estate agent or builder owns part of a title agency):
“ABAs…also create an inherent conflict of interest…”
Experience – Real estate transactions, even “simple” refinances, require the attention of an experienced title agent. Experience can make the difference between a smooth transaction or one mired in problems and omissions.
Local Knowledge – “All real estate is local” is a tried and true maxim. Real estate laws, rules, regulations and customs, are exceptionally local. Just because someone can pass a test sponsored by the state, doesn’t mean they have the knowledge of your local area. Many post-settlement headaches and mischarged fees are caused by out of area settlement agents trying to work outside their “boundaries” Make sure your title insurance provider has a local presence.
Focus on Quality – The true test of a title agent is satisfied clients. Do they have testimonials available? Do they use employees or contractors, like signing agents to conduct key parts of the transaction? If possible, try to talk to the person who will be handling your transaction. Be concerned if the title insurance provider can’t or won’t identify who’s handling your personal information.
Ask more questions – We’ve created a helpful guide Questions for Your Title Insurance Agent so that you can better equip yourself to shop for title insurance.