1. What is a title?
A title is the foundation of property ownership. It is evidence of the owner's right to possess and use the property.
2. What does a title company do?
The job of the title company begins well before settlement. We assemble information from many sources, including buyers, seller's mortgage companies, land records and court records. We coordinate with all parties involved in the settlement. We look for any potential problems in the transactions and clear any judgments and/or liens against the parties prior to the transaction. At the settlement table we collect and disburse funds from the transaction, transfer ownership of property and issue title insurance after settlement. The title company is also responsible for recording the Deed and Deed of Trust in land records. We also track and record the release of the seller's mortgage.
3. Are there various ways to hold title to my property?
Yes, as a sole owner, joint tenants, tenants in common, or as tenants by the entirety. Consult with us prior to closing to discuss your specific situation.
4. What kinds of problems can a title search reveal?
A title search can show a number of title defects and liens, as well as other encumbrances and restrictions. Among these are unpaid taxes, unsatisfied mortgages, judgments against the current or prior owner, and restrictions limiting the use of the land.
5. Are there any problems that a title search can not reveal?
Yes. There are some "hidden hazards" that the most diligent title searches may never reveal. For instance, the previous owners may not have revealed that they were divorced, resulting in possible claims by judgment creditors. Other "hidden hazards" include fraud and forgery, defective deeds, claims against the property, mental incompetence, confusion due to similar or identical names and clerical errors in the courthouse records. These defects can arise after you have purchased your home and can jeopardize your right of ownership to the property.
6. Wouldn't an abstract show property limitations and restrictions?
Maybe - and maybe not. An abstract is a history of the property title as revealed by the public records. Abstracts may contain errors and do not disclose "hidden hazards" that can threaten your property title if you do not have a title insurance policy.
7. What is title insurance?
There are two types of title insurance. One type of policy covers the lender. The other policy type covers the owner. The Lender's policy is a separate policy which protects the lender's interest in the property, up to the outstanding balance of the buyer's mortgage. The Lender requires that the buyer purchase a Title Insurance Policy on behalf of the Lender. The loan policy protects the lender against loss due to unknown title defects. This policy protects only the lender's interest; it does not protect the buyer. The Owner's policy protects against loss due to any of the problems mentioned above. Even a "hidden hazard" can result in a claim against your ownership. The Enhanced Owner's coverage includes coverage for zoning, subdivision, building permit and encroachment issues, as well as the coverage for certain post-policy matters such as theft of identity, forgery, and neighbor encroachment. Owner's coverage provides for legal defense and any liability or loss that may arise.
8. How does title insurance protect my investment if a claim should arise?
If a claim is made against your property, title insurance will, in accordance with the terms of your policy, assure you of a legal defense - plus pay all court costs and related fees. Also, if the claim proves valid, you will be reimbursed for your actual loss up to the face amount of your policy.
9. How much could I lose if a claim is filed against my property?
That depends on the claim. In an extreme case, you could lose your entire home and property and still be liable to pay off the balance of your mortgage. Most claims are not that dramatic, but even the smallest, or fraudulent claim can cost you time, money and aggravation. You also have to pay costs for legal defense.
10. How much does title insurance cost?
Probably a lot less than you think. Charges vary in different areas of the country, but generally the cost of title insurance (including title abstract, examination and related services) amount to about one percent, or less, of the cost of the property. And unlike other insurance premiums, which must be paid annually, a title insurance premium is paid one time only. Title insurance rates are set and regulated by the Ohio Department of Insurance.
11. How long does my coverage last?
For as long as you or your heirs retain an interest in the property, and in some cases, even beyond.